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Keywords of this article:  injection molding 
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An overview of Fakuma exhibition halls.
An overview of Fakuma exhibition halls.

The 24th edition of Fakuma will be held from October 13-17 in Friedrichshafen, Germany. Elite injection molding machinery suppliers will take this chance to show not only their latest equipment, but also a vision for future production.

 

Arburg: beyond machine technology

 

Production-efficient applications indicate current trends in the plastics industry. Arburg, which presents itself beyond machine technology as a production system supplier for plastic part production, will highlight one of the hottest topics, Industry 4.0 at Fakuma 2015.

 

We have been working on the subject of Industry 4.0 for some time now. With automated Allrounders, the Freeformer for additive manufacturing and IT solutions, we are increasingly developing ourselves into a production system supplier for integrated production in the digital factory,” stressed Arburg’s Managing Partner Juliane Hehl.

 

In Friedrichshafen, Arburg is going to show how mass-production parts can be customized and traced back in a part-specific way in practice using industrial additive manufacturing with the additive manufacturing machine, Freeformer.

Arburg’s Managing Partner Juliane Hehl. 

Firstly, unique office scissors will be produced as an example.

 

An electrical Allrounder 370 E first molds plastic handles onto the stainless-steel blades, onto which a particular code is then lasered, and optionally customized 2D or 3D lettering is applied with the laser or Freeformer.

 

A Multilift V robotic system inserts the scissors into the workpiece carrier and transports them out of the production cell via a conveyor belt. A scanner then checks whether the scissors are to be issued to the visitor directly or if 3D lettering made from additive plastic is to be applied using the Freeformer in a further step.

 

As a première, Arburg is to present a highly flexible automation solution in combination with the Freeformer for the first time: a six-axis robot mounted on a mobile platform from Kuka designated “iiwa” (intelligent industrial work assistant) handles automatic loading and unloading of the Freeformer. The robot will hand out the finished, individualized 2D and 3D scissors “personally” to the visitors at Fakuma.

 

In addition to its mobility, and the associated high degree of flexibility, Arburg explained that the main advantage of this automation is the possibility of direct, autonomous cooperation between human and robot.

 

A second practical example of networked production is provided by a Freeformer enhancing injection molded rocker-type light switches with a customized symbol/name combination in large volumes.

 

Here, the product itself becomes an information carrier too with a code applied by laser. The Arburg host computer system (ALS) documents all relevant process parameters and forwards these to a web server.

 

A web page displaying all the relevant process data can be opened via the unique code using mobile devices. Each individual part can be seamlessly tracked in this way.

 

Beyond the Industry 4.0 applications, all exhibits at the Arburg booth are linked via ALS, of which visitors can experience its “live” performance with regard to logging machine and operational data.

 

Profoam for lightweight applications

 

On the application side, Arburg will present the physical foaming of thermoplastics, Profoam, a technology developed jointly with the Institute for Plastics Processing (IKV).

The latest development of Arburg's Profoam technology will be presented on a hydraulic Allrounder 630 S. 

As said, it enables significant material savings in automotive plastic parts, which also leads to shorter cooling time, reduction of sink marks, shrinkage and distortion. Conventional injection molding machines can be employed in this way and also used for other applications.

 

The latest stage of development of Profoam will be presented at Fakuma on a hydraulic Allrounder 630 S. An injection unit with normal screw geometry is used. The plastic granules are first mixed with motive fluid in a granulate lock between the refill container and material feed.

 

During plastification the propellent is dissolved in the melt and only escapes again when pressure is reduced during the injection process in the form of microcellular “bubbles”. The result is a light, robust and low-distortion component with homogeneous foam structure.

 

Other advantages of Profoam are the simple process control, the material-friendly melt temperature and the conservation of long fibers when preparing the melt, as the process requires no shear or mixing element in the melt.

 

Engel: more than a machine

 

Efficiency, productivity, availability, quality and flexibility are decisive for a competitive edge. But to achieve optimal results, simply deploying the best equipment is not enough, which is why the Engel Group is emphasizing the motto “More than a machine” at Fakuma 2015.

 

Injection 4.0 is the company’s approach towards the optimization of production systems. For the first time, Engel will design its booth as a smart factory, presenting self-optimizing production based on three core elements:

 

    smart machines that boost process capability and quality with self-adapting, decentralized systems,

 

    smart production to ensure high levels of productivity thanks to horizontal and vertical data integration, and

 

    smart services that improve availability thanks to proximity and the use of remote maintenance tools.

Injection 4.0 is Engel’s approach towards smart production. 

All the machine data will be collected on a central computer. The Engel e-factory MES solution running on the computer provides features for scheduling jobs, querying the injection molding machines’ states, and creating quality reports and documentation.

 

Engel’s software solutions from the iQ product family enhance process stability by continually analyzing the plasticizing and molding process and automatically adjusting in case of deviations from targets, while Engel e-flomo autonomously ensures a constant supply of cooling water, thus contributing towards better process capability.

 

Automation, process engineering and process optimization will be demonstrated through five applications for the automotive, technical molding, teletronics, packaging and medical industries.

 

Automated processing of metal/plastic composite parts

 

For instance, the company is going to present an integrated, fully automated process for manufacturing thermal switch housings - from the raw material to the 100% tested and labeled metal/plastic composite parts.

Engel will demonstrate the manufacture of thermal switch housing. 

The core of the production cell is an Engel insert 60V/35 single vertical machine. Upstream of the injection process there are a strip uncoiler, a press module and processing module for tapping a thread; downstream there are quality controls, laser marking and another press module.

 

Raw material for the brass carrier plates is fed directly from a reel and pre-punched including creating a thread. The thread is servo-electrically tapped before the carrier plates - still on the line - are overmolded with glass fiber reinforced polyamide (PA).

 

Quality inspection occurs directly after the injection molding process. In addition to camera-based checks, high voltage testing has been integrated into the progressive mold for the first time, thus ensuring a 100% short-circuit test during production.

 

The OK parts are laser marked to ensure complete traceability before the sprue and sub-gates are removed in the second press module and the finished parts are taken off the line. Eight ready to install parts leave the production cell every 20s.

 

Where Engel delivers the production line as system solution from a single source, the entire process is visualized and controlled via the CC300 control unit on the Engel injection molding machine.

 

KraussMaffei: productivity PLUS

 

Better injection molding productivity can often only be achieved with lots of small steps which add up to create a great effect. That is the belief of KraussMaffei, who will illustrate how intelligent plasticizing, control and automation solutions can improve productivity under the motto “Productivity PLUS”.

KraussMaffei has reworked its CX small machine series with clamping forces from 350kN to 1,600kN. 

Resources are limited and raw materials are becoming ever more expensive. That makes reducing the amount of energy, oil and material we use worthwhile in the long run. That is why, for example, the drive concept of the new CX has been energy-optimized, giving the machine an intelligent memory management system needing 10% less power,” explained Dr Hans Ulrich Golz, Managing Director of KraussMaffei and President of the Injection Molding Machinery segment of the KraussMaffei Group.

 

Further significant savings potential can be found in the new machine function APC (adaptive process control), which allows the injection molding machine to restart quickly and to process even difficult batches of material with high proportions of recycled materials into high quality components.

 

FiberForm for substantial weight saving

 

One of the applications KraussMaffei highlighting at Fakuma is the manufacture of airbag housings for the automotive industry, using its FiberForm process. It combines injection molding with thermoforming of composite sheets to further improve the strength of fiber reinforced plastics.

 

The FiberForm process makes an important contribution to lightweight construction suitable for series production with thermoplastic fiber reinforced plastics. Compared to conventional metal components, these represent a weight saving of around 40%,” said Jochen Mitzler, Head of Strategic Product Management at KraussMaffei.

 

In this process, endless-fiber fabric or textiles impregnated with a thermoplastic matrix are heated, then shaped in the injection mold and finally overmolded. Like injection molding, the FiberForm process is easy to automate and can be used in fully automated production with compact manufacturing cells.

 

At Fakuma, a hydraulic CX 300 injection molding machine will be producing airbag housings in cycle times of 42s. The exhibit is equipped with an LRX linear robot of the TwinZ version. The multiple kinematic system is integrated into the standard housing.

 

Wittmann 4.0 from Wittmann Battenfeld

 

Connectivity is one of the keys for smart production. On the way to Industry 4.0, the answer of Wittmann Battenfeld is called Wittmann 4.0, and will be demonstrated at Fakuma.

 

Via the machine’s B6P control system, several machines as well as robots and peripherals connected to them can be linked together and operated via the uniform Windows user interface, which enables interaction between the individual appliances.

Wittmann 4.0 constitutes an important component for integration. 

In this way, the entire manufacturing process, including material feeding and blending, temperature control, automation and injection molding can be optimally coordinated and tracked.

 

Another important point is having all parameter settings, automation processes and formulations centrally recorded in a mold catalog and distributed from there to the correct appliances when a mold change takes place. Just as important is the central recording of error signals and machine status of all appliances linked together under Wittmann 4.0.

 

SmartMonitoring is a process data acquisition software which provides access to a universal database.

 

With SmartMonitoring, Wittmann Battenfeld uses the monitoring module of authentig with an integrated online overview of the corporate machinery visualized on the UNILOG B6P machine control system.

 

Through this simple integration into the system of the MES software market leader, Wittmann Battenfeld offers the option of a plant overview via the machine’s control system, too.

 

With the help of the WiBa QuickLook app, it is possible to check the status of injection molding machines and robots with a Smartphone. The new app links up with the most recent software versions of Wittmann R8.3 robots and Wittmann Battenfeld Unilog B6P control systems.

 

In this way, WiBa QuickLook enables quick and easy viewing of the process data and the status of the most important appliances operating in a production cell.

 

SmartPower 350 makes maiden appearance

 

Making its debut for Wittmann Battenfeld is the SmartPower 350/2250,  equipped with an efficient servo-hydraulic drive as standard and utilizes the available deceleration energy via KERS for barrel heating.

The SmartPower 350 is the newest model in the series. 

The SmartPower 350 comes with generous mold fixing dimensions of 800x720mm distance between tie-bars, with a simultaneously compact overall machine footprint.

 

The exhibit will be producing an “organic sheet” component with a single-cavity mold from Georg Kaufmann. The mold is equipped with a hot runner with needle shut-off, an edge folding slider for in-mold forming of the organic sheet and a punching die to punch out an aperture in it.

 

The automation system developed by Wittmann Robot Systeme is custom-made for this application and comes with a station to feed the organic sheets cut to size, a heating station to heat the organic sheets with heating elements supplied by Krelus, CH, and a multi-functional gripper with a needle gripper to pick up the heated organic sheet, and a suction unit for finished parts removal.

The elite plastics trade fair for Europe’s “golden triangle”

 

Friedrichshafen, a university city on the northern shoreline of Lake Constance (the Bodensee) in Southern Germany, has been the base of Fakuma since its inauguration in 1981.

Fakuma is being held in Messe Friedrichshafen in Southern Germany. 

Surrounded by Austria and Switzerland, the trade show originally aimed at serving the injection molding sector in this “golden triangle”.

 

Back in 1981, only 48 exhibitors participated in the first edition of Fakuma. This year, more than 1,700 exhibitors from 35 countries and regions are expected to show their latest plastics and rubber technology in the tiny German city.

 

As has traditionally been the case, Germany is represented by the largest number of exhibitors (925 companies) followed by Italy (102), Switzerland (97), Austria (63), France (43), China (41), Portugal (27), the Netherlands (25), the Czech Republic (20) and Turkey (17).

 

All available halls and ancillary floor space at the Friedrichshafen Exhibition Centre are once again fully occupied,” said Fakuma Project Manager Annemarie Lipp. “Due to the fact that Fakuma is held twice every three years and will thus not take place in 2016, many manufacturers and distributors wanted to take advantage of the opportunity.”

 

From a specialized injection molding trade fair, Fakuma has grown to become a comprehensive exhibition for the plastics processing. Nowadays, several other sectors of the industry are involved in the exhibition. For instance, a few halls are dedicated to the extrusion sector.

 

This year, a special show will be held in the West foyer which has been conceptualized as a “Thermoforming Island” and will provide information in a compact format concerning thermoforming technology.

 

Another exhibition segment worthy of special attention is additive and generative manufacturing, which is represented at Fakuma 2015 in tool and mold making as well as in parts manufacturing itself.

 

In 2014, the 23rd edition of Fakuma hosted 45,689 expert visitors from 117 countries and 1,772 exhibitors from 36 nations. 33% of the officially counted visitors total came from foreign countries.

 

Fakuma 2014’s exhibitor advisory committee, Ulrich Eberhardt, described the show as “a marketplace for innovative solutions covering all aspects of injection molding, thermoforming and extrusion, as a trend barometer for the industry and as a lastingly important trade fair for suppliers and users of plastics technologies.”


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