SIPA mold refurbishing centers provide strong support for customers around the world

SIPA molds last a long time. We talk about the extension of the company’s guaranteed period for cold halves to a phenomenal 11 million cycles. Every now and then though, SIPA molds do benefit from refurbishment and maybe even an upgrade. When they come off the press, it’s important that the molds are out of commission for as little time as possible – which is why SIPA has established several refurbishing centers around the world to complement the principal operation at the company’s headquarters in Italy. That network is now being extended. Today, SIPA operates mold refurbishing centers in Vittorio Veneto, Atlanta, Los Angeles, São Paulo, and San Luis Potosi, Mexico. The company’s most recent investments in North and South America have proven to be hits with customers, with major projects being carried out for some of the most important PET preform producers in the continent. In the next few months, the company will open its next refurbishing center, in Bangkok. There will also soon be a subsidiary in Korea (initially carrying out commercial activities only, but industrial operations are programmed).

“Our customers want a reliable and competent supplier for this type of service, a partner who can provide them with a highly cost-effective way of upgrading production without having to make a major investment in completely new tooling,” says Manfred Lausenhammer, Global Key Account Manager. “That’s what we aim to provide, and I think we are doing a very good job at it!” SIPA can refurbish hot halves and cold halves made by any major mold manufacturer, not just SIPA itself. The biggest call comes from users of large molds, typically with 96 or 144 cavities.

When SIPA takes on a refurbishment project, it first carries out a preliminary inspection and presents its proposal to the customer. Once there is an agreement, SIPA carries out reverse engineering to analyze everything that needs to be modified or replaced, before quickly moving ahead with the refurbishment itself. “No customer wants an important mold out of service for any time at all, so we move fast – but with great skill,” says Lausenhammer. “When we are done, the mold is just about as good as new as you can get.”

Lausenhammer cites the case of a 192-cavity hot runner system that SIPA handled a short while ago. “At first, it looked like it was going to be a relatively straightforward wear item exchange program,” he says, “but a close inspection revealed that a complete HR refurbishment was in order.” Signs of melt leakage due to damage in the manifolds were found. “Thanks to the expertise of our engineers, the manifolds were repaired and upgraded to a more reliable engineering solution. The full scope of the work was plotted out by our engineers together with the customer and, thanks to our troubleshooting capabilities and the expertise to determine which parts could be reused and which replace, we arrived at a successful and highly cost-effective conclusion that the customer was very happy with.

“Not so long ago, we also took on a project for complete cold-half refurbishment on a 144-cavity mold. It took us less than two weeks to have the mold back up and running, performing as if it were brand new.” Wherever they are, customers benefit from SIPA’s LCS Life Cycle Service for PET preform molds. This is a comprehensive package of services aimed at increasing the overall effectiveness of their operations, through such activities as improving the reliability and availability of equipment, analyzing productivity and part quality, improving personnel performance, and collaborating on planning.

Customers have a range of options when they want to optimize a SIPA mold that has been out in the field for a few years: they can have a regular refurbishment, with old components being replaced by new ones to ensure ongoing preform quality; or they can choose to have the mold converted to produce a completely new (and quite often lighter) design of preform. The advantage of mold conversion over buying a brand-new mold lies in the lower capital investment involved. The existing mold shoe is reused, and the return of investment is faster. An extensive mold audit program supported by experts in the field is already provided by SIPA. This helps customers to assess the state of wear of mold components in their own plant; different options on refurbishing or converting the audited mold can then be proposed.

Because SIPA has expertise in injection molding and in stretch-blow molding, creative and sound packaging development programs can be bundled together with mold conversion programs. That means customers can take maximum advantage of their investment. Mold refurbishing and conversion services complement SIPA’s extensive in-house capability to develop and produce high-performance molds and hot runners in-house. It is possible to maintain components such as piston, flange O-rings and pin valves without opening the whole mold.

The range of solutions benefits from SIPA’s special focus on reducing energy consumption. With better distribution flow and higher water temperature (14-15°C instead of 8°C), water consumption is minimized and performance in terms of condensation reduction is improved. The smooth, polished, rounded profiles on SIPA hot runners reduce stress on the material, resulting in better preform quality and a reduced acetaldehyde (AA) level. Mold systems also exhibit enhanced cooling performance, resulting in high-quality preforms, maximum productivity and reduced production costs.
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