Athena Automation, a company founded by Robert Schad (founder and former majority owner of Husky Injection Molding Systems), has formed a partnership with SIPA of Italy to supply injection molding systems for PET preforms. Athena, based in Vaughan, Ont., has been working for three years to develop a preform system that, the company says, “will raise the bar in terms of reliability. Features that make the Athena machine stand out are fast cycles, improved accuracy, increased uptime, smaller footprint, lower power consumption, and design simplicity.” Athena and SIPA have been working together for several months on fine-tuning the system.
SIPA (U.S. office in Atlanta) specializes in one- and two-stage stretch-blow molding machines for PET bottles, as well as molds and preform injection molding systems. Starting last month, SIPA is handling sales, service, and integration of Athena preform machines on an exclusive worldwide basis. Athena developed a hybrid electric/hydraulic press (100 to 400 metric tons) with an integrated high-speed, four-axis, side-entry robot. It has servo-driven hydraulic gear pumps to power plasticating, injection, clamping, mold break, nozzle pressure and opening, ejector assist, and auxiliary motions. Only a small amount of oil is used. Electric servo motors drive mold stroke and the ejector. Intended markets include packaging, medical, and technical products.
Available features include a stack-mold carrier, dual injection with in-mold assembly, integrated hot-runner controller, real-time energy consumption monitoring and logging, machine remote control and remote notification, and one-touch auto shutdown and startup. Several prototype models have been tested for millions of cycles and have demonstrated energy consumption similar to all-electrics, but with “much better shot-to-shot accuracy.” Athena says 150-ton machines will be available in the second quarter and 300-ton machines in the third quarter.
Athena’s PET preform system to be sold by SIPA includes post-mold cooling and reportedly offers the smallest footprint in the industry, one-hour mold change, best-in-class mold protection, and ability to accommodate legacy molds.