Graham Engineering (York, PA) opened its doors for a week in late February to show off two machine developments pursued in anticipation of market direction. During twice daily displays, the company ran its next-generation SBG 700 Shuttle, a new iteration of the company's HLD 700 shuttle-style unit, and its Mini Wheel, the wheel portion of which the company brought to Düsseldorf, Germany and the K show last October.
David Yenor, VP global business development for Graham, said that the new machines also showcase strategic supplier agreements with blow molding machinery manufacturer Sabmann Blasformtechnick (Petchaburi, Thailand) and Knödler for those companies to provide the machine base (clamp and frame assembly) and extruder gearboxes, respectively. Yenor said standardizing on machine bases and gearboxes for all machines and outsourcing those technologies allowed Graham to undertake project development of the new shuttle and wheel simultaneously.
The Sabmann carriage design for the shuttle is totally new for Graham, with linear-stroke bearings applied instead of tiebars. Yenor said this allows the mold to open wider for more daylight without the tools cantilevering out.
The company also used the open house to emphasize its investment and focus on R&D, especially in the area of container development. Graham's lab has added a Zwick/Roel top-load tester, Micro Vu imaging system, and a new microscope to measure material thickness in multilayer designs. In April, the company will replace an older wheel used for product development with a new, full-size, 6-layer, 12-cavity unit that’s currently under construction.
As part of the open-house machinery display, the new Mini wheel produced six-layer polypropylene (PP) fruit jars at a rate of 55 bottles/min. Graham feels this machine is well suited for high-growth areas such as flavored milk, organic drinks, coffees, teas, nutraceuticals, and the like. To highlight its work in container development, the 800-ml, 75-mm neck finish package was designed in house and light-weighted to 38g from 42g. It rated to a top load of 80 lb, and in spite of containing 45% regrind, it maintained good clarity.
In 2008, Graham marks the 40th anniversary of its wheel technology, and the company said this is the first time in the machine's history that it revaluated the wheel itself, redesigning how the clamp actuates so that all closing force is individually contained in each clamp station. In addition, the clamps are modular so processors can assemble them off the machine.
The shuttle machine is the next generation of Graham's HLD 700 line, and the new SBG 700 has been designed so that molds run on the HLD machines can function on the new series. In addition to greater daylight, the new machines offer options for view stripes, coextrusion, and aseptic bottle production. At the open house, the SBG produced 2-liter polyethylene handleware at a rate of 44 bottles/minute.