Five Star Industry Competence
“It’s your choice to be a winner!” is the motto for ENGEL at NPE2015 from March 23 to 27 in Orlando, Florida. Presenting eight innovative applications, the injection moulding machine manufacturer and system supplier will demon-strate how the specific requirements of five industrial branches—automotive, packaging, medical, teletronics and technical moulding—can be realised with efficient and economical injection molding solutions. They will show that the key to increased competitiveness can be found in both customised, highly-integrated system solutions and flexible standard machines.
Picture: The new ENGEL e-flomo supports fully-automated adjustment of flow rates.
The highlights at the ENGEL booth in the West building, hall A will include the first composite brake pedal manufactured in a one-shot process, the new high-performance ENGEL e-speed machine, the particularly dynamic ENGEL e pic pick-and-place robot, as well as innovative service tools for an even higher level of process security and machine availability.
The plastics industry in North America continues on a course of growth. In particular, there is an increasing demand for innovative techniques and economic solutions for high-performance applications. Both trends are reflected in the exhibits at the ENGEL booth at NPE2015.
One main emphasis will be on lightweight construction, which is currently one of the areas with the strongest growth. "In the next few years we can look forward to strong growth in the injection molding industry, particularly in the field of fiber composite engineering," points out Mark Sankovitch, President and CEO of ENGEL North America with headquarters in York, Pennsylvania. Directed fiber systems have long since established themselves in high-performance products—for example in the aircraft industry. For composite materials to find even wider use in high volume applications, such as in the automotive sector, the biggest challenge at present is to develop manufacturing processes that provide low unit costs despite high volumes. "ENGEL is providing ground-breaking offerings in thermoplastics solutions to provide production breakthroughs across all industries," emphasises Sankovitch. Injection moulding technologies offer great potential for this. ENGEL already fulfils another crucial success factor with its high levels of system solution and automation expertise. To promote even faster development of new processes, ENGEL established its own technology center for lightweight composites in 2012 at the site of its large-scale machine production facility in St. Valentin, Austria. The technology center was created primarily as a platform for interdisciplinary collaboration with international partner enterprises and universities. In collaboration with its system partners, ENGEL has been able to set several milestones in recent years.
ENGEL automotive: Cost efficiency for high-volume lightweight construction
ENGEL and its partner ZF-Friedrichshafen will present one of these milestones in Orlando—a geometrically optimised and stress-resistant plastic brake pedal. The concept for manufacturing a hybrid, brake pedal from thermoplastic fabric received the Composite Innovations Award in 2011, and has been consistently enhanced by ZF since then. ENGEL will be offering a glimpse into the efficiency of the new manufacturing process at its stand at the exhibition. Using a vertical ENGEL insert 1050H/230 single US injection moulding machine with an ENGEL easix multi-axis industrial robot and infrared oven, a continuous-fiber-reinforced thermoplastic semi-finished product (known as thermoplastic fabric) will be heated, preformed in a mould and immediately over moulded with polyamide. The system produces ready-to-fit components; no cutting is necessary.
Thermoplastic fabric offers offer high strength and rigidity. In addition, the product developers at ZF have adapted the layer structure to the component load when designing the brake pedal. This enabled the component weight to be reduced by around 30 percent compared to conventional steel brake pedals—without impairing load-bearing capacity. In addition, the lightweight construction method makes many conventional manufacturing process steps unnecessary, thereby increasing productivity and cutting unit costs.
The control unit of the ENGEL easix multi-axis robot is fully integrated into the control unit of the injection molding machine. As a result, besides making it easy to operate and program the robot, the movements of the machine and robot are precisely coordinated with each other. Since the robot has access to the machine parameters, the gripper can enter the mold area during the opening movement, which in turn significantly reduces cycle times. Synchronous movements are particularly important when it comes to handling pre-heated semi-finished products, because semi-finished products must not be allowed to cool too rapidly in advance of the forming process. Another factor that determines quality in this application is the high positional accuracy of the multi-axis robot.
Dual technology integration opens new horizons for quality
Process integration leads to greater efficiency, safety and quality. Using an ENGEL duo 2550/610 US injection moulding machine with an integrated ENGEL viper 20 robot, ENGEL will demonstrate the fact that not only can process steps upstream or downstream of the injection moulding machine be combined, but also different process technologies. To produce center console components of PC-ABS, ENGEL will combine two technologies: ENGEL foammelt, the MuCell® foam injection molding process developed by Trexel of Wilmington, Massachusets, USA, and the variothermal injection molding process from Roctool (Le Bourget du Lac, France). The goal is to produce thin-walled parts with very high surface quality along with the excellent reproduction of fine structure using just a single injection moulding step.
To demonstrate the versatility of this combination of processes, the part being moulded will have varying wall thicknesses and surface structures. Thanks to ENGEL foammelt, the cavity is completely filled, including the undercuts, and the component has no sink marks after cooling. At the same time, the Roctool technology provides a high-gloss finish in piano black. Apart from applications aimed at car interiors, this dual technology integration opens up new horizons for efficiency and quality in white goods and household products.
On exhibit for the first time in North America, this system solution introduces the new design of the ENGEL duo injection moulding machine. Users will benefit in particular from improved ergonomics thanks to a lower operating height providing easier access to the mould and nozzle area. Other features of the new machine generation include roller rail systems for the moving platen, energy-efficient mould movement and a much cleaner mould area thanks to the removal of central lubrication.
ENGEL medical: Higher productivity with a smaller plant footprint
In the Medical section of its display at NPE2015, ENGEL will be producing drip chambers with an integrated filter for blood transfusions. An ENGEL e-victory 310H/80W/50V/180 combi US three-component injection molding machine with ecodrive and a cleanroom design will be used in this highly integrated production process. The drip chambers will include one ABS and one PP component; in a single work step they will be injection moulded, fitted with the filter, and joined by means of over moulding with additional polypropylene. This unprecedented level of integration significantly boosts efficiency in the manufacturing of multi-component hollow bodies with inlays. Conventionally, the two hollow body components are individually injection moulded, with the inlay fitted and bonded in subsequent process steps. However, this leads to longer cycles, a greater logistical effort including a greater risk of contamination, and markedly lower productivity per square foot as production usually requires several independent manufacturing cells. “Drip chambers are mass-market products that need to be manufactured economically while maintaining the stringent demands on product safety and cleanliness,” says Mark Sankovitch, underlining the great significance of the one-shot process. Other industries could also profit from this leap in efficiency. For example, fuel filters are also hollow bodies with an integrated inlay.
For this exhibit, the mold manufacturing partner Hack Formenbau (Kirchheim, Germany), provides a key prerequisite for the high level of integration with the use of servo-electric drive technology for all movements of the index plate mould. This allows the synchronous control of commonly independent movements.
An ENGEL easix multi-axis robot is also integrated into the manufacturing cell for handling both the filter and finished parts. The robot presents the drop chambers to a 100 percent quality control check before they are discharged.
High performance with maximum safety
In order to increase productivity, the field of medical technology is moving more and more to the use of multi-cavity molds along with the larger injection moulding machines they require. As a result, ENGEL has designed the ENGEL e-motion all-electric machine series to meet the requirements of high-performance applications, with no compromise to process stability and part quality, even when used with high clamping forces. Together with automation specialist HEKUMA (Eching, Germany) and mold manufacturer Braunform (Bahlingen, Germany); ENGEL will be presenting the highly automated cleanroom production of needle holders for insulin pens at the NPE.
The cores of the 96-cavity mold have a diameter of just 0.3 mm. To counter deformation of cores effectively, the electric injection unit of the ENGEL e-motion 440/240 T US is equipped with a direct drive, which provides highly dynamic injection movements and injection speeds of up to 500 mm/s. If, however, there is a problem with a manufactured part, the camera-based monitoring system registers it immediately. Thanks to cavity specific handling, reject parts are automatically separated and the injection moulding can carry on producing without deactivating the cavity. Despite the delicate mold cores, the all-electric machine achieves exceptionally short cycle times of around 3.5 seconds.
ENGEL packaging: the best of two worlds
High-performance applications have traditionally been the domain of the packaging industry, and the trend in that sector is energy efficiency. The new ENGEL e-speed 720 US injection moulding machine, presented in North America for the first time at NPE2015, brings together the best of two worlds. The new ENGEL high-speed machine relies on the all-electric technology of the high-performance ENGEL e-motion and ENGEL e-cap series while possessing the benefits of the ENGEL speed series; uniting highest injection speeds with maximum energy efficiency.
The electric clamping unit of the 720-ton hybrid machine utilizes a completely new drive solution. In order to avoid the power peaks when short cycle times are combined with high clamping forces, a flywheel acts as an electrical power reserve. It stores the braking energy from the platen movements and transfers this energy back to the motor when it is required for processes such as the reacceleration of the clamping movements. When the storage capacity is reached, excess energy from the generator is fed back into the grid—not just converted into heat by the braking resistance, which has been the case until now. This allows the ENGEL e-speed 720 US to run with a relatively low and above all constant connected load.
On the injection unit side, the time-tested ENGEL inline injection unit is used. Its particularly high injection dynamics and an electric plasticizing drive enable injection speeds of up to 800 mm per second to be reached.
In addition, its particularly long opening stroke allows the new high-speed machine to work with large stack molds. An ENGEL e-speed 720/90 US with a 4+4-cavity mould from StackTeck (Brampton, Ontario, Canada) will be producing 1.5-liter containers. Thanks to the high-speed automation from CBW automation (Fort Collins, Colorado, USA), the machine only needs a very short 0.5 seconds to remove the containers from the mold.
ENGEL technical moulding: efficient multiple component injection moulding using standard technology
While process integration offers advantages for many multiple component applications, it is not necessarily the most efficient solution. In addition to the requirements of the part being produced, the planned lot size, conditions on site and the existing machinery are also important when choosing the best fabrication process. One alternative to production with a multi-component mold and an integrated manufacturing cell would be to utilizing a transfer process to link two, or more, injection moulding machines with a linear robot. The transfer process is advantageous when standard technology satisfies the production requirements, as opposed to making customised specialty machines necessary. ENGEL demonstrates what this can look like in practice with the production of double-ended wrenches on a system using two ENGEL e-mac 170/55 US machines with four-cavity moulds from Roembke (Ossian, Indiana, USA). The wrenches are made of carbon-fiber-reinforced polyamide which is over-moulded with silicone between the two ends for better grip. The part is injection moulded on the first machine in the cell, removed by an ENGEL viper 12 linear robot and immediately placed in the mould of the second injection moulding machine which is situated opposite. During the processing of the liquid silicone, the first machine has begun production of the next wrench.
The compact size of the all-electric ENGEL e-mac machines provides a space-saving solution for the production of technical parts with high demands on precision. As a result, the productivity per square foot of production space increases, which has become a key figure for efficiency in an increasing number of businesses.
The ENGEL e-mac injection moulding machines provide extremely high repeatability, and reduced cycle times with parallel movement of the different drive axes. From injecting and metering to mould and ejector movements, all drives in the ENGEL e-mac are servo-electric. This guarantees the best possible precision and process stability while maximizing the effectiveness of the machine as a whole. The drives are operated by a modern axis system solution involving a stabilised intermediate circuit in which the braking energy is recovered and fed back into the grid, thereby achieving very high energy efficiency. The ENGEL e-mac achieves a very high acceleration of up to 20 m/s² on the injection axis, setting new standards around the world.
ENGEL teletronics: maximum precision for plastic/metal composites
It is often useful to make use of gravity for insertion applications. During the trade show, ENGEL will be producing connector housings on a vertical ENGEL insert 500H/110 rotary US injection moulding machine. In order to overmould the metal pins directly, an ENGEL easix robot will take four sets of metal pins from the feeding unit and place them in the bottom half of the four-cavity mould, which has been provided for demonstration at the exhibition by Capsonic (Elgin, Illinois, USA). Once again, with this application the multi-axis robot demonstrates its high positioning accuracy. The precision of the robots movements is crucial for final product quality in many insertion applications.
The injection moulding machine operates with a rotary table equipped with two work stations. The metal pins are put in place parallel to the injection process, which not only makes for short cycle times, but also ensures high energy efficiency. Since all part handling takes place outside of the clamping unit, the mold only remains open for a very short time during rotation of the table, eliminating unnecessary heat loss.
The complete automation of the manufacturing cell was designed and built by the ENGEL automation team in York. In order to pose a challenge to the flexibility of the ENGEL easix robot, two different and independent feeding systems have been integrated, and will be in operation on an alternating basis at the exhibition. The robot must repeatedly adapt itself to the changing demands of the process and yet still fulfill all its tasks with consistently high precision.
25 tie-bar-less years—a success story with future potential
"25 tie-bar-less years"—ENGEL will be celebrating this anniversary at the NPE with an ENGEL victory 330/85 tech US machine, which will be producing fittings for drain systems.
Since the first single-screw injection moulding machine was developed in 1956, it was regarded as an unshakable design principle that an injection moulding machine had to have four tie bars. When ENGEL unveiled a tie-bar-less machine at the K 1989 international plastics trade show in Düsseldorf, Germany, the innovation made by the Upper Austrian Company was greeted with astonishment by some, but with ridicule by others, and many arguments were raised against it. Today—25 years later—tie-bar-less injection molding machines are one of ENGEL's biggest sources of revenue. So far, more than 60,000 tie-bar-less machines have been delivered worldwide, underlining the outstanding success of this design principle. With their large platen faces and free access to the mold area, the machines meet the need for high efficiency and cost-effectiveness in injection moulding production better than any other design today, and will continue to do so in the future.
The production of fittings makes optimal use of the tie-bar-less technology. Although the mold provided by ifw-Kunststofftechnik (Micheldorf, Austria) for the production of the fittings at the NPE is of substantial size, it can still be mounted on the 85-ton machine quickly and easily. “If we were using a traditional machine with tie-bars, we would need a much larger machine with a clamping force of at least 150 tons in order to fit the bulky mould. We would also have to remove a tie bar or disassemble core-pulls to set up the mould," says Mark Sankovitch. With no tie bars to interfere with the mould in the ENGEL victory, the mould mounting platens can be used right to their edges. Therefore, very large molds can be mounted on relatively small injection moulding machines. At the same time, overall efficiency is enhanced. The costs for a smaller machine are lower both for purchase and operation, and it also requires less floor space.
Automation: From a simple pick-and-place to a turn-key solution
From the dependable standard machine to the highly integrated and automated manufacturing cell developed under one roof, ENGEL provides solutions with maximum economical efficiency for its customers around the world. In the turn-key business, the processor has only one contact partner for the entire system right from the start, which can markedly reduce the time needed for project planning and commissioning. Even when individual components are provided in collaboration with partners, ENGEL bears the overall responsibility.
"The segment of system solutions is steadily increasing in our business," says Mark Sankovitch. "ENGEL is delivering more and more injection moulding machines with handling included." Automation is increasingly becoming an integrative process component which not only makes production processes more efficient and economical, but also makes it possible to realise totally new manufacturing methods, component characteristics, design solutions and product qualities.
In order to also be able to offer a very economical, dynamic and compact solution for simple pick-and-place applications, ENGEL has developed a new compact robot for horizontal and vertical part removal with a load-bearing capacity of up to 2 kg.
At NPE2015, the ENGEL e-pic will be presented to the American audience for the first time. Thanks to its completely new kinematics, combining linear movements with a swivel arm, the ENGEL e-pic unites maximum performance with maximum economic efficiency. In order to keep the moving mass as low as possible, the robot arm was designed using weight-optimised parts. This ensures the shortest possible take-out cycles and low energy consumption. In comparison with linear robots of the same size, the ENGEL e-pic requires less than half the amount of energy.
The compact design also contributes to its excellent economical efficiency. When utilised on injection moulding machines with an integrated conveyor belt, the robot works inside the machine's safety gate without requiring additional space.
Equipped with its own control unit, the ENGEL e-pic robot can be used not only on ENGEL injection moulding machines, but also on third-party machines. In combination with an ENGEL injection moulding machine, the robot can be easily integrated into the CC300 machine control unit. The robot and machine then access a shared database, thereby enhancing process security and operator convenience while achieving optimal efficiency in production sequences. The control unit converts the rotary motion of the robot swivel arm into a linear movement. Therefore, those who have experience working with linear robots have no need to learn new skills.
With this new development in handling, ENGEL can now cover the complete spectrum of requirements in this area even better, from simple part removal, depositing, and sprue separation, to sophisticated insert-placement and take-out, and to the combination of various process steps in a highly-integrated production cell.
A new generation of the ENGEL viper linear robot will also be presented in Orlando. Thanks to the update, the speed, flexibility, compactness, energy efficiency and ease of use of the robots have all been improved. Also new is the C70 seven-inch hand-held touch terminal, one of the lightest on the market weighing in at only 950 grams. Additionally, to ensure a consistent operating system, the layout of the robot control pages has been adapted to the new design of the CC300 control unit for ENGEL injection moulding machines.
ENGEL plus: a new service portal for even greater customer benefit
Training and service are integral features of the ENGEL system philosophy. Under the ENGEL plus brand name, ENGEL offers not only fast hotline and on-site support worldwide, but also a wide range of optimisation tools that ensure greater efficiency and process stability, increase machine and production cell availability, and help optimise processes. ENGEL plus is being presented at the NPE in several expert corners, featuring ENGEL e-flomo, the ENGEL oil maintenance system, and the new customer portal, among other things.
Mould temperature control has a significant influence on the productivity of the manufacturing process and on the quality of the moulded parts, but despite this, it is usually not given enough attention. ENGEL prompted a change in thinking when it developed ENGEL flomo in 2010. The compact temperature control water manifold with electronic flow monitoring, which can be adjusted manually and integrated into a machine, increased process reliability and simplified process optimisation—in more than a thousand new machines to date. ENGEL is now completing the step from process monitoring to process control. The newly developed ENGEL e-flomo features electrical control valves, which allow the flow rates to be adjusted and controlled in a fully-automated process. “ENGEL e-flomo keeps the temperature in the mould constant throughout the production period, even when water pressure varies,” says Mark Sankovitch. “This results in greater efficiency, process reliability and consistently high product quality.”
The ENGEL oil maintenance system ensures lower costs for upkeep and increased machine availability. Impurities cause 80% of all hydraulic system failures. The ENGEL oil maintenance system tackles this problem at its roots. A cellulose cartridge with a 3 μm fine filter removes solid particles, condensed water, and oil degradation products in one single step. The result is up to 55 % less downtime and a reduction in maintenance costs of 60 %.
A special highlight is the new customer portal that ENGEL will be presenting for the first time worldwide, at NPE2015. Now customers can make service requests and order spare parts even more easily and quickly than before. Another positive aspect is the high level of transparency. The customer can for example track the status of a service request, which makes it possible to plan more reliably. The new customer app opens the doors to the world of ENGEL, as well as one's own manufacturing facility, anywhere and anytime. A concise overview of the current status as well as the availability of all machines can be displayed in the app. "Our innovative strength at ENGEL is demonstrated not only in products and technologies," says Mark Sankovitch. "It is also our goal to continuously increase the benefit customers have from our service."
ENGEL at NPE2015: West Building, hall A, booth W1303
(Engel Austria GmbH)