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In collaboration with partners Hekuma and Hack, Engel has developed a first-of-its-kind production process for the direct molding of an interdental brush with up to 500 bristles. The company will demo the system at PLASTEC West in Anaheim, CA, on Feb. 7 to 9.

Norbert Sparrow

January 6, 2017

3 Min Read
Engel’s brush with greatness to be showcased at PLASTEC West

A first-of-its-kind manufacturing process involving the molding of an interdental brush with up to 500 bristles will be showcased by injection molding machine maker Engel (Schwertberg, Austria) at PLASTEC West next month. It is the first time the technology will be presented in North America. PLASTEC West, co-located with North America’s largest medical manufacturing trade show, MD&M West, returns to the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, CA, on Feb. 7 to 9, 2017.

Engel and its partners—automation integrator Hekuma (Eching, Germany) and moldmaker Hack (Kirchheim unter Teck, Germany)—introduced the system at K 2016 in Düsseldorf, Germany, to great acclaim. In booth 3715 at PLASTEC West, Engel will run a cleanroom version of its all-electric e-motion 170/110 T US using an eight-cavity mold built by Hack. Hekuma’s Hekuflex system removes the brushes from the mold and inspects and packages them.

Many more advances in plastics processing technologies will be showcased at PLASTEC West, one of seven co-located events at the largest annual design and manufacturing show in North America. For more information about PLASTEC West, coming to Anaheim, CA, on Feb. 7 to 9, 2017, go to the PLASTEC West website.

The interdental brush is made entirely of plastic, including the fine bristles, which are also injection molded. The process eliminates the need for a metal insert, simplifying the production process and achieving a cycle time of 4.5 seconds and removal time from the mold of less than 1 second, said Hekuma CEO Bernhard Rupke at a K 2016 press preview event.

The scrub! interdental brush is molded directly in a single-component injection molding process, together with the core and grip.

The interdental brush, called scrub!, was developed by pheneo (Bremen, Germany) and will soon be introduced to the market. Until now, interdental brushes have consisted of three components, which are typically produced in separate processes: The grip, a wire mesh and the filaments. The technology developed by Engel, Hack and Hekuma allows up to 500 bristles to be molded directly in a single-component injection molding process, together with the core and grip. 

Completely filling eight cavities with up to 500 bristles each, at a total shot weight of only 1.93 grams, not only places significant demands on the mold, but also on the injection molding machine, notes Engel in a press release. While all-electric drive technology ensures precision for the machine movements, Engel’s inject 4.0 (iQ) suite of products makes appropriate adjustments for fluctuations in ambient conditions or the raw material. 

The automated system can produce a retail-ready package with 16 parts every four seconds.

Shot by shot, iQ weight control analyzes the pressure profile at screw positions and adjusts both the switchover point and the injection profile to the current conditions. At the same time, iQ clamp control monitors mold breathing for each shot separately and automatically adjusts the clamping force, and the new iQ flow control adapts the pump speed in the temperature control unit to current requirements. Together with the electronic Engel e-flomo water manifold system, iQ flow control keeps temperature control conditions in the mold constant, and increases energy efficiency.

About the Author(s)

Norbert Sparrow

Editor in chief of PlasticsToday since 2015, Norbert Sparrow has more than 30 years of editorial experience in business-to-business media. He studied journalism at the Centre Universitaire d'Etudes du Journalisme in Strasbourg, France, where he earned a master's degree.


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