Injection molding technology at K 2010: 
Prepare to be dazzled

By: 
September 29, 2010

Whatever you are expecting in new injection molding machine and process tech at this month’s K show (Oct. 27-Nov. 3), start raising your expectations. Supplier engineers were busy last year developing a broad array of solutions in every sector of the business. Consider, too, that Germany’s triennial plastics show is arriving just in time to help infuse life and energy into a recovering industry. We’ve brought you a glimmer here of what will be in Messe Düsseldorf’s 17 halls, but if you can’t get to the show, you can track our coverage at k.plasticstoday.com. For travel and logistics planning, visit the organizer’s website, www.k-online.de. What else could you need?

Materials outlook
Molders attending the K show will want to take in all the great new machinery, of course, but also should factor in some time to meet with material suppliers. Not only are many introducing new materials at the show, but also their stands often include collections of great applications from around the world—fodder to spark your own new project ideas. For instance . . .

The material isn’t new in this case, but the supplier is, as BASF uses the show for its official entry in long-glass-fiber-reinforced grades of polyamide (LGF-PA). The new LGF-PA grades will be marketed as Ultramid Structure LF. The company is starting with a small range of PA6 and PA66 grades with LF levels between 40% and 60% as well as various types of stabilization, with the plan to expand the portfolio in the future.

In addition to the new materials, BASF has built on its established Ultrasim simulation software so that processors of the LGF-PA can also use this software to predict parts’ performance, a service the company says is not yet available in the LGF-PA market in this form.

The supplier also is marking the K with the introduction of new flame-retardant grades for molding light-colored E/E products. Halogen-free, these new grades of  polyamide and polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) are available in light natural colors—no red phosphorous—so that processors can make electrical components in all color tones. The new grades will be part of new product lines called Ultramid FRee (polyamide-based) and Ultradur FRee (for the PBT-based compounds). FRee stands for Flame Retardant and Electrical/Electronic (E/E).

Helping molders in the automotive world meet their sustainability goals, DSM Engineering Plastics introduces a series of PA6 grades derived from postindustrial recycled material. One of them, Akulon RC, already is being evaluated by, among others, leading Tier One supplier Mark IV Systèmes Moteurs.

Following the K 2007 introduction of Stanyl Diablo OCD2100, a high-performance grade of Stanyl for underhood automotive applications, DSM will showcase two new Diablo high-heat resins at K 2010: Stanyl Diablo OCD2300 and Akulon Diablo. Both are a direct response to some of the main trends in the automotive industry, including weight reduction. Stanyl Diablo OCD2300 is a high-heat PA46 material developed specifically for long-term temperature resistance at elevated temperatures. By limiting thermal oxidative breakdown, Stanyl Diablo withstands more than 3000 hours at aging temperatures of 230°C before its tensile strength is less than half of its initial value.

Officials at Ticona promise their stand will include a collection of great applications from around the world using its materials in medical, automotive, E/E, and consumer goods. According to Maria Ciliberti, commercial director Europe, two key topics for Ticona at K 2010 will be materials for molding green E/E devices, and global trends affecting the automotive industry. In the past year the company has expanded its portfolio with the acquisition of DuPont’s LCP business and of long-fiber thermoplastics compounder FACT. It also is busy building the world’s largest POM plant.

Mosey to PA supplier Rhodia’s stand to see examples of its newest material developments. For instance, the supplier has unveiled a new PA-based high-performance composite material that complements its existing Technyl line of nylon. Other innovations will include Technyl eXten, a PA6.10 produced in part from castor oil.

For the K show, solar technology and lightweight construction are two areas of innovative applications in which plastics supplier Evonik will have plenty to discuss with processors. On the solar energy front, Evonik’s new product group Plexiglas Solar offers a range of molding compounds for all kinds of applications in lens manufacture for use in concentrated photovoltaic technology.

With processing machinery manufacturer KraussMaffei, Evonik will talk up the pair’s work on CoverForm, a system solution combining an injection molding cell with a PUR dispersing unit. The system is said to lower manufacturing costs substantially for transparent components with scratch-resistant coatings. Presented as a prototype at K 2007, it now is entering commercial use.
Polyetheretherketone supplier Victrex Polymer Solutions will highlight a number of new products and technology solutions in areas such as composites, laser sintering, wear reduction, films, and coatings. Its stand will be application-heavy as Victrex intends to introduce recent application development work with customers in the aerospace, automotive, energy, electronics, and industrial sectors.

There will be dozens of other resin suppliers and compounders eager to hear from you at K 2010. At the north end of the fairgrounds, Halls 5-8 are reserved for materials suppliers, compounders, plus processors—so you may discover a new material and meet an old friend or a potential new business partner in the same aisle.

New molding machines, 
innovative process tech
Machine suppliers had fewer orders to fill in 2008-2009, but that meant their engineers had more time for product and process development. They made the most of it. No matter how complex your project, at K 2010 you can select among a broad offering of solutions.

For example, one of the 11 molding systems on the large Engel stand is a recently launched duo pico model. During the show it will be the center of a three-robot cell making a PA steering column reinforced not with the customary steel or aluminum but with a special fabric of glass or carbon fibers. Or, watch Engel’s Multitube mold system make hollow, complex (like a labyrinth) two-component parts in one step. And there are nine more.

Besides machines, there are a number of new control systems. Keba will show the new generation of its KePlast i5000 open control system, which brings new power and a way to protect your know-how. The newest version of Arburg’s Selogica controls features the new Selogica Assistant that goes beyond machine sequences into full production systems, including all the peripheral equipment, even six-axis robots. And Arburg has a new top end to its HiDrive Series hybrids to show you, featuring adaptive accumulator tech and running a packaging mold with collapsing cores and multiple slides.

Netstal, never a slouch at control systems, is unveiling its new aXos controls at K 2010, featuring an upper screen with a patented membrane keyboard for manual operation, a lower screen showing the freely programmable sequence editor and auxiliary control definition page, and a foldable keyboard with a trackball. Check the machine’s status on the upper while managing the process on the lower using an architecture that will program any sequence the process needs, and show you any inconsistencies before you activate it.

The aXos should not distract you from the two new Elion machines (220 and 280 tons) since it is running them. Their 1.3- and 1.4-second dry cycle times will let them run production cycles on flowerpots (six cavities) and closures (64 cavities) of 2.1 seconds and sub-2-seconds, respectively.

There is IML, IMD, and other inmold tech throughout the K halls, but take a peek at the two-sided labels going on PS cups on the Beck Automation stand, with an electric Netstal Elion doing the four-cavity honors in 3 seconds. The image inside the cup is not the same as what’s on the outside. The Kurz Group has new IMD foils that provide high-quality visual and also tactile properties, with no texturing of the mold surface. Check out the tactility and metallization look of the laptop computer case on the stand.

Also found frequently around the show are examples of energy saving. Molding machine maker Chen Hsong is showing a variety of electric and hybrid machines, including the Jetmaster full-digital closed-loop servo machines with overall energy savings of about 70%-80%, compared with traditional machines. Elastomer machine specialist Desma will be showing its first Servo Gear machine, a two-pump system that cuts energy by 10%-13%, and at the same time increases positioning precision and lowers noise level.

Negri Bossi comes to K from Italy with its new “full injection” series, and that is its name, at least for now, though NB says it could be called “energy saving” thanks to its new energy-recovery system. Injection speed of up to 230 mm/sec, an innovative belt transmission, and touch-screen control are all part of this deal. Look, too, at Negri Bossi’s automation capability, some of it from the Gaiotto Automation part of NB’s parent company Sacmi Group. And don’t forget to look at Sacmi’s stand for the latest non-injection tech for making closures at very high speed.

Wittmann Battenfeld’s injection machine offerings include many novelties, both large and small (very small) of the reborn Battenfeld brand, and all under the name of Power. The new full-electric MicroPower system (5- or 15-ton clamp) with plastication screw and injection plunger handle the small stuff: shot volumes from 0.05-3 cm3 to make very high-precision parts. On the large end, the 1000-ton MacroPower marks a return to higher-tonnage machines, a mainstay of Battenfeld previously, and this new generation features a shorter reprint, higher speed and precision, and greater cleanliness. And don’t miss the EcoPower electric machines on the stand, or the integration of Wittmann automation and peripherals.

There is much more machine and process technology than we can cover here, and to give you one little teaser, the Italian company Tecnomagnete, which has developed electromagnetic mold clamping since 1970, is rolling out PressTec, its new generation. Whether you’re a fan of magnetic clamping or not, you want to see this. The magnetic platens are thinner, which is good for daylight, but more important, the surface is entirely metallic—no seams, gaskets, or resins, and therefore no friction, deformation, or infiltration, plus the magnetic components remain shielded.

Hot runners are hot!
Ewikon has expanded and optimized its range of hot runner products specifically to meet the demands of the medical industry, both for high-volume disposables and the production of precision components where safety is a major consideration.

The company will introduce a new version of the HPS III-MH nozzle, designed for use in low-cavity applications and available with one or two tips per nozzle. The main nozzle body is taken from a standard nozzle and modified with an MH-style mouthpiece that contains the tip inserts. For deep immersion applications, the main nozzle can be extended using a slim adapter nozzle to reach the required length. The HPS III-MH nozzle also comes in an ultracompact 24-drop valve gate version for multipoint valve gating of a medical device with very short distances between gating points.

DME Europe’s hot runner product range now includes its economically priced Essential Series, recommended for all applications with commodity-grade plastics. Using the Essential Series’ components, customers are able to build their own personalized one-, two-, or four-drop system. 3D data is available and can easily be imported into the customer’s file.

The Essential Series reportedly provides excellent thermal control throughout the system and optimal heat transfer within the melt channel for part weights up to 800g. “It ensures the competitiveness of our customers even when pressure on cost reduction is high,” says Uwe Burkert, business manager Europe.

Incoe will introduce the company’s new SoftGate hot runner valve pin speed control for opening the valve gate nozzles, promising good surface quality in sequential injection molding. SoftGate is intended for large parts that demand a high-quality cosmetic appearance, although the technology can be applied to a wide range of applications. The company says its process is also cost effective and can be retrofitted to existing systems.

Mold Hotrunner Solutions introduces Rheo-Pro iVG, which the company claims is the world’s most compact back-to-back valve gate hot runner system. The new iVG is the first and only internal valve gate on the market, says MHS, and is the only valve gate hot runner that operates entirely without seals. Its design opens up new possibilities for high-cavity stack molds, swivel molds, and multimaterial injection molds, according to the company.

The compact design of Rheo-Pro iVG’s nozzles means that it is now possible to build “short stacks,” or stack molds with a tip-to-tip length of only 285 mm and a pitch or gate-to-gate distance of 63.5 mm. For molders, this means the ability to produce more parts in smaller machines with lower clamp tonnage.

Mold components make 
moldmakers’ lives easier
DME Europe says its new Quick Ship program will bring a new standard range of 27 series of mold bases at the lowest price on the market. The Quick Ship standard offers basic mold plates and alternative low-cost plates, including a range of P-plates. Off-the-shelf plates range from 156 by 156 mm up to 446 by 596 mm. Cavity plates are available in stress-relieved 1730 and Toolox 33.

The company is now an exclusive distributor for Cumsa, a Spanish producer of technical standard mold components in Great Britain. Cumsa’s products include slides, ejection, and cooling items that, thanks to their small dimensions, can easily be changed on the mold. Additionally, DME now offers four new metric sizes of its Black and Gold top interlocks and six new metric sizes of side interlocks. These interlocks ensure accurate alignment and guidance of the mold halves during mold setup and throughout mold operation.

Hasco will showcase its latest advances in standard mold units, such as its prehardened steel Toolox 33, now available as an undrilled P-plate, as a finished cavity plate in K-20 quality, or as K-252 with finish-machining allowances in the system drillings (finish-machining is possible in one setting). Using Hasco’s clamping fixture (Z8001) also reportedly reduces setup times.

Demolding parts is made easier with the company’s latch locking units, two-stage ejectors, transmission elements, and collapsible cores. Plus, Hasco’s new ejector set cover (Z1216) protects the ejector set against dust and foreign particles, reducing downtime.

Mold sensors make sense
While RJG Inc.’s eDart flx software allows processors to use in-cavity pressure and temperature sensors to see what’s happening in the mold, discover which parameters are essential to product quality, and automatically divert rejected parts, sometimes it’s impractical to put cavity pressure sensors into every mold all at once. The next best thing, the company says, is to monitor the machine and material and make corrections in a systematic way, which now can be done with its eDart conx software module. It enables users to view machine conditions and verify that a process is running to the established setup and is repeatable.

A third eDart software module called apex gives users the features of conx and flx in one system, reduces scrap and processing time, and shows how a job is operating at a glance.

All three eDarts appear on a system overview screen, which indicates each machine’s status and how much it has deviated from the process that should be running. Once a process template is established, the eDart sends a record of any deviations in machine speeds and pressures from that template to the overview. A quick scan through the overview screen lets the user know any processes that aren’t being run to their established setup.

Thermoplay SpA will showcase its new temperature control, Th-m6, which is available in configurations of 24-48 zones in multiples of six. The control is designed for long, narrow parts in which it’s difficult to avoid mold core movement. The new control allows synchronous heating of all zones, with no delay in heating startup. It also has an alarm that announces leakage from a nozzle to avoid damage. The temperature setting and all of the control and alarm parameters can be modified at once on all the zones. Finally, the control sports a high-resolution touch-screen TFT Display and microprocessor RISC 32 bit 400MHz.

Moldmakers show off their best molds, new businesses
StackTeck, a manufacturer of molds primarily for the food/beverage packaging and medical markets, announced the acquisition of Matrix Technology Specialists of Hong Kong. The new company, StackTeck Matrix Systems, will have operations in Toronto, ON; Hong Kong; Bangkok; Thailand; and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Matrix, a relatively young startup company founded in August 2007 by a team of industry specialists, has focused its business on specific systems engineering and injection molding consulting, says Mike Gould, VP business development for StackTeck. In December 2007, Matrix became the Asia Technology Partner of StackTeck, which specializes in thin-wall molds. Its business is “complementary” to StackTeck’s: integrated solutions that can be customized for each application.

StackTeck’s Randy Yakimishyn stated, “We wanted to be able to provide more comprehensive solutions to the global market for injection molding packaging equipment. For StackTeck, Asia represents opportunity and growth. Therefore, in making this acquisition, it was key for us to have an experienced, trusted Asian partner to provide access to the technology and the supply chain in order to be the new leader in fast, flexible, innovative systems.” StackTeck will be exhibiting at the K show, with multiple systems on display and operating along with a select group of partners.

KTW (Kunststofftechnik Waidhofen ad Thaya) GmbH will showcase its high-tech molds at three stands at this year’s K show. In addition to its own stand, KTW will have production molds in the stands of machinery manufacturers Wittmann Battenfeld and Sumitomo (SHI) Demag. In its display, it’s demonstrating how it has evolved from an exclusive manufacturer of closure tools into an integrated technology and systems partner. The company provides closure development, including coordination with filling and capping equipment, performance specifications for injection molding systems, application technology consulting services, and the handling of complete turnkey installations.

Haidlmair, a packaging mold manufacturer, will display new applications beyond container production, and highlight the benefits of its mold systems for containers of all kinds. Additionally, Haidlmair will have molds in production at other stands, including Wittmann Battenfeld’s (a 500-by-400-by-193 mm stackable folding box) and Arburg’s (a thin-wall design container with a complex surface that incorporates undercuts on the inside and outside).

CAD/CAM
Missler Software, maker of TopSolid mold design software, and Simcon (Cadmould plastic part simulation software) announced a technical and commercial partnership between the two companies that includes a direct link between TopSolid and Cadmould. The new partnership offers TopSolid Mold users an optimized tool for the design of plastic parts, and can be used as a first step in determining the feasibility, quality, and cost of designing their parts and injection molds. Missler Software’s French sales director, Marc Choquin, notes that the collaboration with SimCon comes from customer needs to reduce design time and improve the quality of their mold designs by using simulation across the design process.

Robotic upgrades push 
performance envelope
Robotics vendors are descending on the K show with a diversity of new and upgraded offerings. Customized solutions will also be on display. Take the W873 robot from Wittmann, for example, incorporating numerous improvements over its predecessor the W773, including a maximum payload of 125 kg with a maximum vertical stroke of 3000 mm. The robot is also available in a configuration with 3600-mm vertical stroke and 60-kg carrying weight.

A kick stroke of 2000 mm is featured as standard, and the standard traverse axis is 4000 mm, with extension options in 1000-mm increments. The robot is equipped with the new R8 control system, enabling numerous functions and additional options. This also includes servodriven rotations in the A-, B-, and C-axis. Complex part removal can be accomplished with additional vacuum and gripper circuits.

The centerpiece of the Sepro Robotique exhibit will be the new S5 series of Cartesian beam robots. The latest model in the range—the S5-25—suits injection molding machines from 120-450 tons. The S5-25 is a midsize robot that offers a standard payload of 10 kg, a 50% increase compared with the previous G4 model. The 700-mm demolding or strip stroke is 16% longer than the maximum available on the current G4 unit. Other sizes, for smaller and larger molding machines, are scheduled to debut in 2011.

Sepro and Sumitomo (SHI) Demag will team up at K to promote their recent partnership, which has Sepro producing robots specially designed to be sold with Sumitomo-Demag machines. One of the SDR robots will be demonstrated on a 160-ton Systec injection molding machine, with the robot’s Visual 2 control fully integrated with the Demag NC5 control.

Waldorf Technik is also teaming up with Sumitomo (SHI) Demag at K to demonstrate a modular production cell producing pipette tips in a 32-cavity mold. The automation unit can readily be adapted to 64-cavity production. Demolding and cavity-oriented deposition of parts will be demonstrated.

A camera unit safeguards complete control in this rather open system; 100% product quality including pipette geometry is a high priority. No matter what additional functions may be required—such as filter attachments, more quality surveillance checks, or the addition of packaging capability—they can be added or supplemented according to individual customer specifications.

Auxiliaries assisting from all angles
Whether it’s temperature control, drying, conveying, blending, granulation, or inmold labeling, processors will find an abundance of products on offer at K. The following is a selection of highlights.

A new dosing unit for injection molding machines will debut at this year’s K show that claims to guarantee total accuracy in dosing the smallest quantities, irrespective of external influences. The Exako from Werner Koch Maschinentechnik is fitted with scales that register the actual weight and compare the value with the calculated set weight using a new control system.

The Exako combines the highly accurate chamber-volume-based method of dosing with a gravimetric system. Minute quantities (1-55g) can be added to a main component. The enclosed chamber volume means that it is possible to add quantities that are accurate to +3 granules in 1000.

Used for feeding colorants and additives into plastics processing machinery, the Maguire MGF gravimetric feeder provides more than double the throughput of the original system but has the same compact size and offers the same substantial price advantage over competing gravimetric units, according to Maguire Europe. The MGF system is driven by a motor that is smaller than the one in the earlier feeder but delivers material at rates of up to 36 kg/hr, compared with the previous top hourly throughput of 13.6 kg. Nevertheless, the feeder still costs the same as conventional volumetric feeders and is nearly 40% less expensive than competing gravimetric models.

The WFC 100 mold temperature control from Wittmann combines a water flow regulator and flow measuring gauge, and up to eight circuits can be controlled. The system can prevent blocked channels or bent hoses due to mold changes, while the flow range is 2-40 liters/min per circuit, the maximum operating temperature 100°C, and the maximum pressure 10 bar. Furthermore, a high measuring precision of 1.5% FS (full scale) limits the maximum deviation to just +0.5 liters/min over the typical temperature range. In addition to the water flow, the temperature is recorded for each circuit.

Control of color quality on the shop floor is made facile with the latest multiangle spectrophotometers from X-Rite Europe GmbH. The MA94 and MA96 models will debut at K this October. Weighing approximately 1 kg and covered with a soft overmolded case for two-handed use, all of the instruments are designed for frequent and comfortable measurement by shop floor personnel.

The modular design adopted for the Werth VideoCheck-IP 400 multisensor coordinate measuring machine (CMM) allows users to incorporate various types of probes as required, while the constant tension guide way system of the X-Y measuring stage provides precision and long-term stability. Debuting at K from Werth Messtechnik GmbH, the apparatus is equally at home for inspection on the production floor and in the measurement lab.

The VacTrac Series 24/128 control from AEC Inc. features enhanced graphics and control of up to 24 vacuum conveying pumps, 128 loading stations, and 128 purge valves. The 24/128 control uses a DeviceNet distributed I/O network, with standard features that include an Allen-Bradley CompactLogix control with 10-inch color touch-screen operator interface.

With a 16.5-inch cutting circle, scooped rotor, and forward offset design, 1600X Series granulators from Cumberland Engineering accept a wide variety of plastic parts for size reduction. Additionally, a broad range of infeed and discharge options enable the 1600X granulators to work with many different applications.

Larger granulators in the HB Series from Herbold Meckesheim GmbH are capable of size reduction of bulk injection molded parts in a single step to the required granule size. The HB Series features a grinding chamber directly linked to a feed hopper. A PLC-controlled ram forwards material directly to the rotor. For many materials, two-step size reduction by a shredder and a granulator is thus no longer necessary. [email protected]

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