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MDM East 99: Focus on medical molding

May 19, 1999

7 Min Read
MDM East 99:  Focus on medical molding

If you're headed to the Medical Device & Manufacturing East 99 and Atlantic Design Engineering shows May 25-27 at New York City's Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, you'll find a lot that will interest you. First, rest assured that you will find a healthy collection of new products on display. End-market shows like MD&M have become increasingly popular for molders and their customers as a networking venue (see "What End-market Shows Can Mean to You," pp. 33-34). As such, it's also become a popular place for machinery manufacturers to show their wares.

In fact, the show has grown to assemble, in increasing numbers, a rare combination of purveyors and consumers in the injection molding food chain: machinery suppliers, auxiliary suppliers, moldmaking suppliers, CAD/CAM suppliers, material suppliers, designers, moldmakers, molders, and end-market manufacturers. For the molder or moldmaker who lives and breathes the medical market, it's a very focused event.

Bringing all of this together will be the Injection Molding and Plastics Processing Pavilion at the show. As its name implies, the pavilion, consisting of some 100 exhibitors, is a collection of molding and molding-related companies, all involved in the medical market. A list of all the exhibitors can be found on p. 130, but to prepare you for the show, IMM polled major machinery suppliers in the pavilion to find out what show-goers can expect to find featured in booths and running on the floor.

The Products

The list of injection molding machine manufacturers at the show is impressive. First is Van Dorn Demag, which is bringing the Ergo-tech 80 Modular machine (Figure 1). This machine first showed its face at K'98 last October in Dusseldorf, Germany, but this will be its first time in the U.S. Equipped with an NC4 control system, the machine will be molding products out of a mold from a major medical supplier, although as IMM went to press, details had not been ironed out.

Of particular interest will be the three-way part sorter on the Ergotech. Via the controller, the operator can specify certain critical processing setpoints. If, for whatever reason, the machine deviates from any processing setpoints, parts from that cycle are deemed out of specification and the sorter moves them to one side of the press. If the setpoints remain valid, parts are deemed in-spec and are moved to the other side of the press. And parts to be periodically inspected by QC are delivered below the press.

The Ergotech gets its "modular" label because of the variety of machine options that are available. Buyers can specify screw and barrel size; tiebar spacing; vertical or horizontal orientation; multimaterial molding; injection unit pressure; and the number of pumps. Van Dorn will also run at its booth the newly upgraded Newbury 30-ton vertical press, equipped with the Pathfinder 5000 control system. It will be molding parts for IV systems.

In the Husky booth, you'll find a new version of that company's handling system for stacking and assembling petri dishes (Figure 2). The system is designed to operate with a 5-second cycle using a 2x8 family stack mold (eight bases, eight lids) equipped with guide rails. The guide rails maintain part orientation for delivery to an enclosed conveyor section. Lids and bases are assembled four at a time by a walking beam assembly station.

Assembled parts are delivered to a downstacking station that builds four stacks simultaneously. This system reportedly saves 50 percent in assembly time over conventional automated systems. Mold open time on the press is controlled by fiber optic sensors that count dishes as they exit the mold rail guides, making sure no parts are stuck in the press. This entire system can be retrofitted to an existing machine, or supplied as part of a complete cell on a new machine.

Boy Machines Inc. is featuring its cleanroom production machine line at the show. In the booth will be the company's smallest capacity model, the 14.2-ton 12M with Procan 2 closed loop control (Figure 3). Boy's cleanroom options include a laminar flow system that can be installed on the hood of the clamping unit. Or, the freely overhanging clamping unit can be segregated with its own cleanroom enclosure and laminar flow system. The pump drive motor on this press is cooled by water instead of air, and can be equipped with an electrical ejector system. The machine can also be configured to mold liquid silicone rubber.

Cleanroom applications will be the focus of the exhibit at the Krauss-Maffei booth. The KM80 machine is a special cleanroom version that permits the clamp end of the press to remain in the cleanroom during processing (Figure 4). The clamping unit is fitted with two additional metal plates that seal off the cleanroom during processing and maintenance. Capable of Class 10 cleanliness, the room is on casters and can be rolled away from the clamp for mold changes. The machine is a two-platen C-design press, available in sizes ranging from 30 to 800 tons with a cantilevered clamping unit. It uses an MC4F control that can be operated inside or outside the cleanroom.

If you're hoping to catch a glimpse of Battenfeld's popular, new Microsystem 50 injection molding machine at the medical show, keep wishing. Battenfeld reports that it's selling the miniature presses as soon as they're manufactured. It couldn't bring a Microsystem to the show if it wanted to. Still, the company will be in the pavilion at MD&M molding parts in a 44-ton hydraulic machine from its CDC Series.

Nissei, Toshiba Machine, and Milacron are each bringing all-electric machines to the show. Nissei's ES Elject Series ranges from 22 to 297 tons and uses a-c servomotors. Toshiba will run a 45-tonner from its new line of all-electric presses. In the Milacron booth will be a 110-ton Roboshot all-electric machine. For the first time ever at a trade show, the machine will be molding a liquid silicone (LIM) medical grade part. The system includes a water-cooled, jacketed barrel and nozzle, and an integrated mold temperature control system. Injection repeatability is reportedly accurate to within .0005 inch.

On the small end of the spectrum is the AB-150-4 benchtop injection molding machine from A.B. Machinery (Figure 5). Equipped with a lever-operated hydro-pneumatic clamping unit, the machine is designed to help eliminate operator fatigue during long shifts. Its small size also allows it to be integrated into an assembly area for on-the-spot molding. The clamp on this press goes up to 2 tons; the maximum shot is 6g. Novel Biomedical is also introducing a small press, the Model 6010, designed for prototyping and short runs. This unit weighs 230 lb, uses a pneumatic ram, can generate up to 10,000 psi on injection, has a maximum shot size of .25 oz, and a hydraulic clamp capable of producing up to 5 tons of force.

On the assembly side is Branson Ultrasonics Corp., introducing its new 2000d ultrasonic welder. On exhibit will be a 30-kHz version of the welder, which the company says allows for finer control, less noise, and a smaller stack size than a 20-kHz model. Also, it offers more power, can handle larger parts, and has the ability to weld more difficult materials than a 40-kHz model. The welder offers up to five operating modes: time, energy, peak power, collapse, and absolute distance.

Further down the processing chain is the V140-GK Autoload microwave gas plasma system from Plasmatech Inc., designed for high-volume bulk treatment of medical device components (Figure 6). Applications include polymer surface modification (increased wettability or hydrophobicity) and plasma thin-film coating. This rotating drum system ensures uniform part treatment, can be fully automated, and features stored recipe capability. Cleanroom versions and chamber sizes up to several hundred cubic feet are available.

Naturally, this is just a sampling of the molding-related products you're going to find at the show. Any molder or moldmaker interested in the medical market will get an eyeful of dryers, blenders, feeders, conveyors, granulators, mold temperature controllers, robots, resins, pad printers, assembly equipment, CAD/CAM packages, mold bases, mold components, rapid prototyping systems, inspection devices, materials, and other products and equipment.

Show Details

The show runs from Tuesday, May 25 to Thursday, May 27. Show hours Tuesday and Wednesday are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday's hours are 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The headquarters hotel is the Grand Hyatt New York on Park Ave.

If you're headed to the show to get an education as well as see the latest in medical manufacturing, MD&M offers a healthy dose of molding-related conferences. Topics include metal replacement, injection molding under cleanroom conditions, PVC replacement, part design, packaging process validation, design review, transportation testing for medical devices, process control, thin-wall molding, and others. Conferences run all three days, Tuesday and Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., but plastics- specific ones are on Thursday. For more information on MD&M East, see the box below for contact options.

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