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Gerhard Böhm, Managing Director, Sales, Arburg GmbH + Co KG (right) and Tong Zhao, Managing Director of Arburg China. Behind them is an Allrounder 920 S hydraulic injection molding machine with package with assembly automation.
Gerhard Böhm, Managing Director, Sales, Arburg GmbH + Co KG (right) and Tong Zhao, Managing Director of Arburg China. Behind them is an Allrounder 920 S hydraulic injection molding machine with package with assembly automation.

Globally leading plastics injection molding machine manufacturer Arburg GmbH + Co KG presented its technologies relating to Industry 4.0, injection molding and additive manufacturing at the CHINAPLAS 2018 this April.

Benefitting from the exhibition’s move to the new and bigger venue this year, the German company had more floor space of around 600sqm to showcase its wide-ranging portfolio, including a complex turnkey system for the packaging industry, a major industry that Arburg serves.

This system was comprised of a hydraulic Allrounder 920 S machine, a 1 + 2 + 2-cavity family mold, a Multilift V 40 linear robotic system and a separate assembly station. With this system, Arburg demonstrated the automatic production and assembly of a five-part, ready-to-use folding crate on its stand.

“This year, we use the chance of having more floor space to show one of our biggest machines, the 920,” said Gerhard Böhm, Managing Director, Sales, Arburg GmbH + Co KG. “It represents our capabilities in packaging solutions.”
The hybrid Allrounder 570 H machine.
During the demonstrative production of the folding crate, the five individual parts were initially produced by the 5,000kN injection molding machine and mold in a cycle time of 32 seconds. These were then removed by the linear robotic system and positioned in a separate assembly station where they were automatically assembled within the injection molding cycle to form the folding crate.

As far as the packaging industry is concerned, Arburg saw a growing demand for high volume production. “In the packaging industry, we have solutions for high volume production as we see that high volume parts are needed. It is a demand which is growing more and more,” said the Managing Director, who quoted, as a not-displayed example, their special Allrounder Cube machine series that applies the cube mold technology to realize “really high volume” production of caps and closures.

In addition to packaging, automotive and medical are also two major user industries of Arburg machines. At CHINAPLAS 2018, the company presented its ProFoam physical foaming technology for the first time in China with the demonstrative production of a passenger car engine compartment component on a hybrid Allrounder 570 H machine.
The live demonstration of flexible LSR cases for the iPhone 8 on the Arburg stand.
“With the foaming process, we touch the automotive business, lightweighting business, electric mobility and so on,” said Mr Böhm, as the process provides benefits of reducing part weights and improving mechanical properties and part quality.

He further said, “The automotive industry is driven by precision and by changes in regard of e-mobility and autonomous driving. This changes a little bit the interior of a car, so we have another look and feel inside the car. For example, we have more touchable screens, fewer switches, and so on. Autonomous driving also makes electric wiring an issue on a car, so plugs and connectors are coming up.”

Regarding medical applications, an electric Allrounder 370 E Golden Electric was displayed to demonstrate the precise production of medical technology parts.

In response to China’s good demand for Liquid Silicon Rubber (LSR) applications, Arburg showcased a hydraulic Allrounder 420 C Golden Edition, which produced flexible LSR cases for the iPhone 8 on the stand, to demonstrate that hydraulic entry-level machines are particularly suitable for processing LSR in Arburg’s view.

As additive manufacturing is growing in China, a Freeformer system was also on display to demonstrate how Arburg Plastic Freeforming can be used for prototyping and industrial additive manufacturing.

Six efficiency-enhancing software packages for Industry 4.0

Coming to the topic of Industry 4.0, Arburg, which is a leading company in this aspect with over 30 years of experience in digitally networked machines, developed six different efficiency-enhancing software packages for providing set-up, start-stop, optimization, production, monitoring, and service assistance earlier this year.

“It’s like having a driving assistant in a car,” explained Mr Böhm. “We have six of those software packages that a customer can buy to enable his operators to get faster to the first part, to have a safe, quick and accurate setup, and so on.”

According to Arburg, the company’s central component of Industry 4.0 is the ALS host computer system. It enables complete traceability of orders, batches and individual parts and machines and peripheral components can be networked in a simple, standardized way by means of interfaces based on the OPC UA application protocol.

Tong Zhao, Managing Director of Arburg China, added that they had received a lot of enquiries about this part in the past year.

Many Chinese customers are building up their ERP system and MES system and so they talk with us about our ALS. We also have implemented several systems already,” said he. “By using the ALS, you can get a very clear view of your production status and a very clear picture of the efficiency of the team. Our Chinese customers appreciate that very much.”

He remarked that, with subsidies from the government, Chinese companies are moving fast towards Industry 4.0 implementation.

Mr Böhm emphasized, “A solid trend is that more and more Chinese companies – not just global players coming to China, but also the original Chinese companies – are looking for quality and production efficiency. With the increasing labor costs and so on, it is very natural that they also have to have high efficiency machines and, you know, that’s what we’d like to supply to the market.”

They [Chinese companies] are definitely increasing their investment in equipment for an upgrade of their production, especially in the automotive, medical and packaging areas. Only by using high-end solutions, machines and molds, you can obtain high efficiency and high quality. This is actually how you can gain the most money for your company,” echoed Mr Tong.

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