Hybrid Athenas target all-electrics in medical applications

Athena Automation (Vaughan, ON) will target the medical market with a hybrid machine in the mid-to-high-end price range that provides superior accuracy, energy efficiency and cleanliness compared to the industry-leading electric machines, CEO Robert Schad said in an interview with PlasticsToday.

"Our machine is cleaner than the electric machines," Schad said. "We don't have a toggle system, so therefore we don't have to lubricate toggles. Most electric machines have grease under the toggle. We had one here for tests and it was very bad. Our machines have oil that is in a sealed system. You will not see one drop of oil on the floor here."

Schad is referring to a brand-new 40,000-sq-ft manufacturing, testing and demonstration plant that Athena Automation is ramping up near the Toronto airport. The company expects to start shipping machines and robots in the fall of this year, starting with 150-ton models. He said in the interview that capacity will ramp up to 300 or more per year by early 2015. The plant, located on a 20-acre acre site, will grow to 190,000 sq ft.

"Our machine is not a cheap machine," Schad said. The base price of the machines will be slightly above $1000 per ton of clamping force.

Schad and VP Sales Jim Overbeeke, who worked with Schad at Husky Injection Molding Systems, said that several features will be attractive to medical molders:

Accuracy: "We have better shot-to-shot accuracy because hydraulics on the injection side give us better repeatability over a broader range of applications," Overbeeke said. Testing done by Athena show that shot repeatability for the Athena machine is ±0.08g compared to ±0.10g for the industry-leading all-electric machine....

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