Sustainability continues to gain momentum in the plastics manufacturing industry, a trend that KraussMaffei has long been part of. The company can look back at more than 30 years of experience in the research and development of recycling technology and can supply equipment suitable for mechanical, solvent-based and chemical recycling. Thus, the circular economy can be considered a pillar of the company's strategy, Von Varchmin said.
"We consider ourselves a solution provider for high-quality recycling facilities. Within our technical innovation center at Laatzen, [Germany,] we constantly conduct trials for different forms of mechanical or advanced recycling," added Franz-Xaver Keilbach, global product and application owner, circular economy/recycling. "Our single- and twin-screw extruder systems, whether used in combination or separately, achieve high quality and high throughput for polymer waste streams."
For KraussMaffei, recycling will definitely remain an area of focus. It views the upcoming legislation on mandatory recycled content in products and packaging as an opportunity for further development, Von Varchmin said.
"It is important that our plasticizing units and screw designs are able to handle even low-quality material, as, when the demand for recycled materials rises in the future, good-quality material is likely to become scarce. We need to ensure that no matter the quality of the recycled material, our customers can still produce quality products," he said.
For now, however, the overall economic situation has also noticeably affected the progress toward the circular economy.
"The pace has slowed down, and the time required to make decisions for projects has increased," Keilbach said. "We do see some positive progress, such as PureCycle's achievements with its solvent-based recycling facility. We are at a point where recyclates are becoming available, also in high qualities. We are convinced that such applications will have a very positive impact on future projects within the transition toward a circular economy."
One of the best and newest examples of KraussMaffei's ongoing focus on sustainability is the new lifecycleValueCalculator. This digital tool allows plastic processors to determine the economic and ecological impact of a machine and digital or life cycle service product over its entire product life cycle. The user must follow six intuitive steps to quantify the as-is situation and improvement potential for a specific application. The lifecycleValueCalculator is available free of charge in the customer portal pioneersClub from KraussMaffei.
Aside from this, in the injection molding machine space, KraussMaffei has launched a new HPS-Physical Foaming universal screw for MuCell applications with 30 percent higher plasticizing performance, which is on show at the booth in Friedrichshafen, Germany.
"In addition, we advanced the topic of MuCell and recyclate in a research project with the Schmalkalden University of Applied Sciences," he noted.
Another area in which the machinery manufacturer is collaborating with academic and other partners is on such issues as the processing of recyclates with higher viscosity.
"Our DCIM [direct compounding injection molding] technology, for example, is the right choice when it comes to challenging materials. The DCIM process combines injection molding and compounding in one process. A single-screw extruder takes over the material preparation, which makes the process economically attractive, especially for smaller components with a shot weight of 50 grams to 2,000 grams. Material savings of up to 50 percent per kilogram can be achieved. Recyclates can be easily processed," Von Varchmin said.
What about customization, another important theme in the industry today? At KraussMaffei, the modularization of the product portfolio is an ongoing effort, and this makes it possible to adapt flexibly to different customer demands. But Von Varchmin emphasized: "Flexibility is something the company has always striven for with our focus on holistic turnkey solutions aimed at maximizing the efficiency of the whole production cell."