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Keywords of this article:  injection molding 
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injection mold 
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Industry 4.0 
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Prof. Helmar Franz, Board Member of Haitian International.
Prof. Helmar Franz, Board Member of Haitian International.

Flexibility is one of the biggest challenges faced by plastics processors, in addition to productivity and connectivity of machines, according to Haitian International as it presented its production solutions at K 2016.

Decreased product cycles, frequent mold changes, and demand for maximum efficiency require that those responsible for production maintain a balance between productivity and flexibility, the company says. Efficiency cannot be allowed to suffer just because low machine-hour rates and exactly stipulated delivery deadlines are required of the processors.

Today, processors using Haitian and Zhafir machines can produce a broad range of parts within a product group of similar parameters. The range of clamping force categories is being expanded continuously, with smaller clamping forces for electric models and larger ones for two-platen technology. In the future, modularity will offer the processor even more possibilities through the more flexible, application-oriented "Technology to the Point" strategy of Haitian.

Haitian also said the construction of hybrid models should not be the primary goal of development. The established base technologies of the servo-hydraulic and electric models will continue to be optimized in the future so that their core components are combinable in modular fashion.

Exhibits at K 2016

Haitian presented four exhibits – two machines each from its Haitian and Zhafir brands, which represented typical examples of the specific technological advantages of the models.

Zhafir presents a further leading type of the Venus II Series – the fastest-growing electric machine series of the past eight years – in the all-electric packaging variant called Venus "p".

The p series also stands out for its performance and broad application. Electric solutions offered by Zhafir continue to gain ground as the business figures as of December 31, 2015 show, said Haitian. In the small tonnages the sales share of the electric Zhafir machines rose from 11.1% to 14.8%. For 2016, the continued rise in the sales figures for the half-yearly account again demonstrates the strengthening of this trend.

On the fairground, a VEII3000/1700p machine produces an In-mold Labeling (IML) cup integrated into an automated cell by Sepro Robotique and Pages.

Besides, with the electric Zhafir – Zeres – Haitian has expanded the previous diversity of the electric range. The flexible machine, which has the base technology of the Venus Series and integrated servo-hydraulics, e.g. for core pull applications, offers processors a demand-driven solution.

A ZE3000 machine producing a cosmetic sealing cap removed with a Hilectro XTB 900 was demonstrated at the fair.

Due to the high quantities, Zhafir is also able to offer electric machines in larger clamping force categories with an attractive price-performance ratio, the company says. In the future, the Zeres will be an interesting alternative, particularly for the growing number of large-size precision parts with complicated removal techniques and with insert molding too.

Path to Industry 4.0

Haitian continues to pursue its development path to grow from being purely a machine builder to provider of comprehensive smart solutions. It aims to optimize the new interfaces to the system environment so as to integrate highly standardized machines into automated processes with greater flexibility.

Prof. Helmar Franz, Board Member of Haitian International, said, "At Haitian International, we are placing great emphasis on the theme of Industry 4.0 and are discussing it with our system partners and with many customers. How and when our machines can be integrated into an ‘intelligent’ environment is decided in the final analysis by what benefits and added value there are for the customer."

However, some general challenges cannot be solved without involving other parties. The key issues include data security, network accessibility and internet stability, he said.

"In addition, there is the question of what makes sense. Not everything that is already technologically feasible today necessarily makes economic sense for the individual plastics processor. Here also it's a matter of finding the 'most cost-efficient path': the perfect balance between flexibility and productivity at best costs."

Apart from new developments of digitization and automation, key issues of modern machine manufacturing remain the central focus, so as to future-proof the injection molding technology.

"With all these developments with regard to Industry 4.0, we should not forget the machine itself. Together with universities such as MIT, we are working on the issue of lightweight constructions in the injection molding machine," Prof. Franz said.

"For new materials and corresponding new forms of plasticizing concepts that will be needed, we cooperate with the universities in Beijing and Guangzhou."

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