YORK, Pa.—During the last six months, Engel Machinery Inc., the U.S. unit of Austria-based injection press maker Engel Holding GmbH, has provided four tie-barless molding machines to four universities.
Each of the Engel e-motion presses, with 85 tons of clamping force, are equipped with an Engel e-pic Z robot. The goal is to provide students with the latest in machine and processing technology so they enter the work force with the most up-to-date technologies available for both plastics and silicone molding, Engel officials said.
"Engel places a great importance on the support of universities and institutions globally," said Thomas Leng, Engel's vice president of global application engineering. "We are building the future of both our company and the plastics industry by investing in the young talent of today."
Mark Sankovitch, president of Engel's York-based unit, said the firm is committed to supporting plastics education throughout the country.
"The more complete and up-to-date education that a student receives in plastics related programs, the better it is for our industry. These graduates are the future of plastics. Training them on outdated technology is not in anybody's best interest," he said.
Each of the presses going to the schools are equipped with Engel Inject 4.0 software, Engel's version of Industry 4.0. The machinery manufacturer also provides each school with a full day of training.
The University of Massachusetts Lowell received an 85-ton e-motion press and a 55-ton e-mac machine. In addition to the two new Engel molding machines, the school's laboratory is outfitted with eight other injection presses, eight single-screw and five twin-screw extruders, two thermoforming machines, two blow molders, one injection stretch blow molding machine, two blown film lines, four micro-molding and micro-compounders and a wide array of auxiliary equipment.
Professor David Kazmer said there is a lot of interest in liquid silicone molding, and an Engel LSR press is the only machine of its type in the department.
"We believe advanced sensing and control is critical to enabling new plastics applications and thus being competitive," Kazmer said. "We want our students and industry partners to be up to date on the latest technologies."
At Pittsburg State University in Kansas, the Plastics Technology program will celebrate its 50th anniversary this fall. PSU took delivery of its first Engel machine in 2001. The new 85-ton e-motion is the university's fifth, and one of three injection presses in the school's processing lab.
"Students, even learning a new science, can tell that they are working with some of the finest equipment on the market," professor Paul Herring said.
The lab also has three extrusion lines, an extrusion blow molding machine and a reheat-stretch blow molder, two thermoformers, a rotational molding machine, an automatic compression molding press and a transfer molding press, plus auxiliary equipment.
Penn State Erie, the Behrend College, got its first Engel press, a 60-ton tie-barless model, in 1994. Engel donated another press in 2000, which was retired last year to make room for the new e-motion.
Penn State Erie's four plastics labs contain 12 injection molding machines, including two-shot, vertical and ultrasonic models; a thermoset compression/transfer press, six extruders (four single-screw, one twin-screw and One kneader), a blown film line and a cast film line, a pelletizing line, three compounding/torque rheometers, two thermoforming machines and two blow molders.
Joachim Kragl, Engel's director of advanced molding systems and processing, has participated in several of the university's conferences.
Brad Johnson, lecturer in engineering, said Penn State Erie appreciates the industry's support. "Smart machines, such as Engel's with iQ programs, are the future of manufacturing. It benefits our students to know how to adapt that technology to make more consistent parts. Many people to not implement all the options that are available on today's machines, and the best way to change that is through education," Johnson said.
Engel also provided an e-motion machine to the University of Wisconsin-Stout, which has a laboratory for plastics processing within its department of engineering and technology.
Professor Adam Kramschuster said plastics officials "jumped at the opportunity to bring a new Engel into our lab." The "smart" machine will help students get ready for future careers, he said.
The university's lab has six injection presses, equipped with a variety of RJG and Priamus process monitoring and control technologies; five extruders, including blown film, cast film, profile extrusion and twin-screw compounding; blow molding equipment and several thermoformers and rotomolders.
Engel's Kragl said it's important for Engel to support U.S. plastics education.
"Providing training to the plastics industry's next generation of workers is paramount for the future of the industry," Kragl said.