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Photo by Caroline Seidel Ethan Stiefel, left, and Brandon Birchmeier from Imflux at Fakuma 2018.
Friedrichshafen, Germany — Fakuma 2018 marks the first trade show where an injection press manufacturer has exhibited moulding technology from Imflux, part of consumer products giant Procter & Gamble Co.
Milacron Holdings Corp. is moulding a technical part on an all-electric Elektron EVO 155 press running a four-cavity Imflux mould during the show, which opened Oct. 16. Two people from Imflux will be stationed at the machine all week to explain the process.
Six Imflux employees are attending Fakuma 2018 in Friedrichshafen in what the P&G unit considers an important trade show debut. Imflux CEO Mary Wagner is also at the show.
"It's a seamless integration of Imflux in a moulding machine," Gene Altonen, Imflux chief technology officer said in an interview at Milacron's booth 15 Oct, the day before Fakuma began.
The injection press is equipped with Imflux software and pressure sensors inside the mould and nozzle.
Imflux uses constant, low pressure to slowly fill the mould, while simultaneously packing the melt and cooling the mould. Imflux software, linked to sensors, controls the process. Traditional injection moulding uses high pressure and high temperatures, then switches over to the pack-and-hold phase.
Imflux officials say the technology can cut cycle time, reduce moulding pressure by 50%, reduce moulded-in stress and shrink variations and allow a wider range of processing windows and shrink variations inside the mould, among other benefits.
The Fakuma demonstration is designed to show off Imflux's capabilities, such as Auto Viscosity Adjust, which automatically makes adjustments for variations on viscosity.
Altonen said the four-cavity mould is intentionally ? unbalanced. And the injection press will change materials and colors during moluding, from white high density polyethylene to red polypropylene and back.
Booth visitors can randomly turn off a mould cavity, and rather than flash the mould, Imflux gives constant feedback to make the adjustment and keep moulding good parts, he said.
Photo by Caroline Seidel Small plastic wheels made on Milacron presses at Fakuma 2018.
Andy Stirn, Milacron's director of applications engineering for advanced plastics processing technologies, said the machinery manufacturer is proud to show the first Imflux-enabled injection press.
"We're introducing it as a module of our M-Powered suite of products, and it is unique in that it's integrated into the controller. It's the first time it's been integrated into a machine controller," Stirn said.
M-Powered is Milacron's Industry 4.0 technology that the company launched at NPE2018 in Orlando, Fla. M-Powered is making its European debut at Fakuma 2018.
Altonen said the two companies have worked together to interface Imflux with the Milacron press controller. He said of Imflux: "As a company, we're moving into the direction of trying to simplify the process."
Consumer products giant P&G set up Imflux as a technology company in Hamilton, Ohio, a suburb of Cincinnati. Milacron's headquarters is in nearby Blue Ash, Ohio, and its main assembly plant is not far away in Batavia, Ohio.
Imflux leaders want injection moulding press manufacturers to offer Imflux-enabled machines as a way to spread the technology through the plastics industry. Kevin Wise, the Imflux vice president and chief financial officer, said Imflux is working with several other machinery manufacturers, including Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd., Wittmann Battenfeld Inc., Engel Holding GmbH and KraussMaffei Group.
In other injection press news at Fakuma, Milacron's Quantum 180 toggle press is making its European debut. Quantum presses are equipped with Milacron's Endura Touch control interface, which is available in presses with clamping forces from 125-610 tons.
The Quantum machine is outfitted with a Mold-Masters E-Multi secondary injection unit, a TempMaster M1 controller and an indexing rotary table. The press has a two-component mould from Wilhelm Weber GmbH & Co. KG and is moulding a squeegee used in showers and for home window cleaning. The body will be moulded from a polycarbonate/ABS blend, and the E-Multi will inject the flexible thermoelastomer component. The cycle time is 50 seconds.
Photo by North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper/Twitter North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper meets with emergency officials as Hurricane Florence strikes the coast.
Plastics operators in North Carolina and elsewhere in the South-eastern US shut down plants as flooding and high winds from Hurricane Florence made landfall 14 Sept.
Companies such as Rowmark LLC shut down as early as 12 Sept so employees could heed evacuation warnings ahead of Florence.
A manufacturer of plastics that can be engraved for awards and signs, Rowmark has a site about 25 miles from hard-hit New Bern, North Carolina, where rising waters were waist high in a matter of minutes and people were being rescued from cars and homes.
Rowmark is closed until further notice, according to an employee who answered a phone call forwarded on 14 Sept to the company's Findlay, Ohio, location.
"The safety of our employees and their families is our primary concern," she said, adding that about 10 employees work at the small site. "All of our employees are okay. Most of them evacuated the area."
The status of many facilities near New Bern were not immediately available.
New Bern, a city of 30,000 on a river inlet of the Atlantic Ocean, was hit by 10 feet of storm surge and more than 7 inches of rain by daybreak on 14 Sept.
City of New Bern/Twitter A fiberglass decorative bear statue floats along Front Street in downtown New Bern, North Carolina. A storm surge and heavy rain have resulted in flooding throughout the community.
Hurricane Florence is expected to linger in the region, with predictions for up to 40 inches of rain in some areas.
Processors in New Bern include Carolina Technical Plastics Corp. and BSH Home Appliances Corp., an injection moulder and thermoformer, making parts of home appliances. Calls to both facilities could not be completed.
Further inland, Stephen Hasselbach Jr., the sales and business development director for CMI Plastics in Ayden, North Carolina, was keeping an eye on the thermoforming facility from afar. He said he was home watching cartoons with his daughter as well as a security system for the plant.
"So far we're doing okay," Hasselbach said. "There's a lot of wind and rain but we still have power at the facility according to the cameras. Everything looks okay so hopefully we're back up and running on Monday."
DAK Americas, which produces PET resins and polyester fibres, also shut down operations at its Cooper River and Monks Corner sites in South Carolina ahead of the hurricane.
"While we expect to resume full operations as soon as possible, we cannot determine the full impact or duration of the situation at this time," Ricky Lane, corporate communications director, said in an email Friday. "DAK Americas' primary concern is the safety of our employees, the community, and our site. We will continue to monitor this situation."
Hurricane Florence is expected to crawl near or along the coast of the Carolinas into Saturday, producing flash flooding and major river flooding. The storm's remnant is expected to linger in parts of the East into early next week.
The report identified a number of developments and trends, some presenting opportunities, others posing threats.
A recent survey of the technical injection moulding sector in the Netherlands draws a picture of a branch on the cusp of change.
A recent report from Dutch bank ABN AMRO on the technical injection moulding sector in the Netherlands explored the challenges, opportunities and trends in this industry, specifically with a view to its future commercial viability. According to this report, change is essential if the sector, which exports some 60% of its output, is to remain competitive and successful.
The Dutch technical injection moulding industry, like that of most countries in Europe, is mainly made up of small and medium-sized enterprises – an estimated 250, out of a total of 1200 companies active in the Dutch plastics industry - and producing a range of products for industries varying from consumer appliance parts and electronics to automotive components and medical devices. The majority of technical moulders are contract plastic manufacturers offering custom injection moulding services that span from a single prototype injection moulding to large series production. They have the technical knowhow and expertise to work with performance engineering plastics like PA, HMPE, PTFE, PEEK and POM.
The report identified a number of developments and trends, some presenting opportunities, others posing threats. These are not unique to the Netherlands; the situation is very similar to that in its neighbouring and other countries as well, but the focus of the present report is on the Netherlands.
The environment and sustainability, for example, are aspects that are becoming increasingly important to consider. Ever tighter regulations and legislation are being implemented regarding the use and disposal of plastic materials in an effort to combat litter – marine and otherwise – as well as to curb CO2 emissions and to fight resource depletion. Made from oil, the awareness that plastics are far too valuable to go to waste has grown, leading to more stringent rules on their re-use and recycling.
The response has been innovation: better separation and recycling technologies have been and continue to be developed to improve the quality of recyclates, research has led to the development of better materials based on renewable feedstocks of various kinds, and the push towards a circular economy, touted as the solution to the mounting problem of plastic waste and the environment by governments, industry and business, is providing the momentum needed, among other things, to establish better collection programmes and extended producer responsibility schemes.
In practical terms, however, recycling still faces a number of challenges that need to be addressed, the most important of which is the fact that plastic products tend to be made up of different types of materials – think multi-layer packaging, for example – that are impossible to separate. Promising circular solutions include Design for Disassembly, in which the end of life of the product is taken into account in the design phase; modular design, enabling parts to be upgraded as needed, thus extending product life; and product-as-a-service, where consumers pay to use a product, not to own it.
While automation has penetrated the plastics industry the degree of connectivity needed for a Smart Industry environment is still largely absent.
The push for circularity notwithstanding, technical injection moulders, have been slow to adopt the use of recyclates, citing unreliable supply and recyclate quality as the main reasons for not doing so. Demand for products made from recycled materials is likely to come from consumers. Companies like IKEA, for example, have listened to their customers - and IKEA now makes extensive use of recycled materials in a range of different products.
According to the ABN AMRO report, however, most manufacturers have assumed a ‘wait-and-see’ attitude, which may end up putting them at a disadvantage in the future if they have to scramble to adapt.
The Smart Industry – Industry 4.0 – is another development that is making itself felt within this sector. While automation has penetrated the plastics industry – in fact, robots, automated resin and parts handling systems are commonplace – the degree of connectivity needed for a Smart Industry environment is still largely absent. This is largely due to the investments required in software, simulation and sensor technology; investments that require a certain scale in production, which in turn has set off a wave of consolidation in the sector. This development is also seen internationally as well, among packaging manufacturers.
It is worth noting that injection moulding is a mature production technology, in which innovation mainly consists of performance improvements, such as faster cycles, easier mould changes, more flexibility, lower energy and material consumption levels; in other words, incremental innovations, which are being driven by the large, international injection moulding machine manufacturers and mould makers. Innovative new materials and compounds are developed by the major raw material suppliers and compounders, who operate at a scale that allows for substantial investments in R&D.
Collaboration with start-ups also offers traditional technical moulders the opportunity to climb on the innovation bandwagon. According to the report, traditional injection moulders tend to be rather conservative in their approach, whereas start-up companies tend to be more forward looking.
The report found that start-ups in the plastics industry tend to be focussed on interesting new developments in recycling; new processes, such as 3D printing; and new materials (composites, materials with specific properties such as Parx Plastics antimicrobial resins). Collaboration with these new initiatives offer traditional moulders the opportunity to gain experience at an early stage with developments leading to improved material properties, enhanced processability and higher product quality, enabling moulders to stand out from the crowd and thus attract new customers. Start-ups, too, can benefit from the collaboration by taking advantage of the moulders’ technical expertise, market knowledge and sales force.
Photo by Arburg Production of a cable grommet with the help of a six-axis robot.
A key takeaway from the report is that, as a whole, the sector will need to become more focussed in order to survive in the international market. As the report writes: “Entrepreneurs ‘string’ numerous activities together as the opportunity arises and abandon these just as easily if they prove to be insufficiently profitable. Opportunism comes with entrepreneurship. But it prevents entrepreneurs from being able to differentiate themselves in the market… we expect that in the future entrepreneurs will demonstrate a far less opportunistic approach. They will have to choose. On the one hand, because of increasing investments in smart, but expensive machinery and automation, on the other because of the shortage of technically skilled personnel.“
In a few of the markets in which Dutch technical moulders are active, for example consumer goods, toys, furniture and construction products, where functionality and price are the main aspects that count, competition from abroad is massive. Activities in these areas are expected to decline, as the moulders in western Europe cannot compete on price, except if they choose to specialise, which some, accepting that they will remain small and flexible, may well do.
In other segments, customers are becoming more and more demanding, with technical moulders having to meet stringent standards and conditions regarding tracking and tracing, process control, quality control and just-in-time delivery, all of which requires investments in everything from cleanrooms to ERP and MES systems. In addition, as product life cycles shrink and new products are launched with an increasingly shorter time to market, these moulders will be required to invest more in moulds, sophisticated machinery and extensive automation and robotisation in order to keep up.
According to the analysts at ABN AMRO, the sector needs to ‘professionalise’ – without losing the positive aspects of entrepreneurship. ‘Technical moulders will need to be more selective in the opportunities they chase,’ they write.
Professionalisation will involve, for example, a more commercial approach to the market by hiring or expanding the commercial staff and investing in their technical capabilities. Also, the websites of many technical moulding companies are outdated and could be improved. Business development should be a fixed item on the company’s agenda, in order to explore and realise new commercial opportunities.
Little scope for supplier involvement
The report also distinguishes four business proposition categories available to technical injection moulders. The first, ‘build-to-print’, in which the moulder contributes nothing to the design or development of the product but simply provides the necessary production capacity, affords little scope to bind customers by offering adding value. Price/quality ratio and reliability are the deciding factors here. Once a moulder has developed the expertise needed for an application, however, the picture can change. This scenario, dubbed build-to-print+, is a growing trend in the high-tech industry: the complexity and mutual dependency is leading to single sourcing and partnership. However, in the plastics branch, far more than in other industrial sectors, big customers tend to deal with several technical moulders, thus keeping prices down, reducing dependency and spreading risk. These customers generally own the moulds, which allows them to ‘shop around’ for lower prices and better service, and to impose uncompromising margin caps.
And it is due to these margin caps that the two other propositions, known as ‘build-to-spec’, where the moulder designs the product based on the customer’s specifications; and ‘build-to-roadmap’ in which the moulder is involved even earlier, in developing the functional specifications of the product, are infrequent in the technical injection moulding sector. It has proven very difficult for the sector to leverage its technical knowhow and expertise to increase business profitability, as customers are notoriously reluctant to pay for engineering hours. However, write the authors of the report, as the scale of the technical moulding operations grows, this may be expected to change in the medium term.
In the introduction to this report, a question was asked about the future of this specialised group of Dutch small and medium sized enterprises. What was needed for their successful survival?
The authors conclude that first and foremost, in the Netherlands, the sector needs to expand the scale of its operations. Compared to, for example, Belgium or Germany, the technical moulding companies in the Netherlands tend to be smaller in size. Targeted growth is needed to finance the investments required to meet the increasingly more stringent of customers. More scale will strengthen the negotiating position towards both customers and raw material suppliers. Moulders with diverse markets and customers are better able to spread risk.
Second: start-ups are active in areas that will become the growth markets of the future. Moulders need to be part of that future and should therefore seek collaboration with knowledge centres, incubators and start-up firms.
Focus on the future – as labour shortages increase, customers will look for more supplier involvement. Technical moulders with specialist knowledge will be in demand.
Ongoing automation will impact on the number of low-level jobs, while the number of highly-skilled employees is likely to increase. The sector should anticipate these future higher wage costs, write the analysts.
It is a tall order, and one that requires a change of mindset throughout the branch, from management level down. Yet, if done right, the technical injection moulding sector presents a bright economic growth prospective.
Global plastic auto parts producer Novares plans to invest €6m to extend the capacity of its production site in the Zrenjanin Free Zone in northern Serbia.
The French group, formerly known as Mécaplast – Key Plastics, launched a plant at the site north of the capital Belgrade in 2012 and now employs a 170-strong workforce there. Its local output was originally aimed at supplying Fiat Serbia, which is located in the Kragujevac Free Zone, which now accounts for most parts production.
Today, the plant also serves the French automotive group PSA in Slovakia and Iran, Dacia – Renault in Romania and the Jaguar Land Rover group in Austria.
Rising demand has prompted the Paris-based moulded component supplier expects to add a new 3,200m2 production hall costing around €2.2m with the remains of the project investment going on new moulding machinery and other equipment.
Initially, Novares will employ a further 25 workers at Zrenjanin and expects to have 280 by 2020, according to Serb media reports.
Novares is to take advantage of additional development space in the Zrenjanin zone’s newly open East business complex. The firm’s new facility will provide it with an additional site of more than two hectares of land.
The Serb free trade zone not only enables companies to import and export freely, but exempts it from payment of taxes and customs duties and allows it free profit transfer. Resident companies are reported to be able to save up to 40% of their business costs.
Novares group is in 21 countries and operates 42 production plants, five technical centres, seven skill centres and 17 customer service units worldwide. In 2017, it attracted revenue worth around €1.2 billion.
As the digitalisation process increasingly gains ground in plastic processing, a key issue for processors everywhere is what to do about older machinery that functions perfectly well but lacks the digital power required today.
An important element of Industry 4.0 is the ability to apply digitalisation to the production environment by adding more intelligence into the existing process. While converters often assume that effective implementation can only be achieved with expensive upgrades of existing production lines, this is not necessarily the case, said Howard Forryan, Product Market Specialist at Harting UK, speaking to Plastics News Europe at the recent PDM event in Telford, UK.
Harting, a Germany-based family-owned connectivity & networks solutions company with offices and production plants around the world, has come up with a digital retrofit approach that makes it possible to “smarten” up existing processes for minimal cost over a short period of time, resulting in a fast return on investment and immediate productivity gains.
According to Forryan, digital retrofit provides four different ways to improve production processes, increase cost savings and extend the lifetime of different types of machinery: legacy machine protocol conversion; condition monitoring / energy measurement; asset management; and predictive maintenance.
“Central machine monitoring and process optimisation offer the best way to ensure that production lines and their various parts operate more effectively and economically. Many machines in well-established production lines, which may be between 15 and 30 years old, can still perform their main functional tasks successfully,” he said.
“But they are much less efficient than newer machine, as they lack the computing power, memory capacity, and the ability to communicate with their modern equivalents that are all required today.”
Injection moulding machines with the Euromap 15 protocol, for example, cannot be directly connected to a Manufacturing Execution System without expensive annual custom software licensing charges, and in many cases still require time-consuming individual programming by an operator.
“MICA Euromap 15” variant converts the legacy Euromap 15 TCP/IP machine operating communications protocol into OPC UA.
Harting has developed an edge computing device in the form of a digitally retrofittable IP67 package with Linux-based open-source software, called MICA (Modular Industrial Computing Architecture).
Specifically for injection moulding machines, the company has developed the “MICA Euromap 15” variant, which converts the legacy Euromap 15 TCP/IP machine operating communications protocol into OPC UA. In addition, it offers the potential to provide IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) web enablement and access to “Cloud” services for Big Data analysis or virtualisation, via an optional downloadable MQTT container.
As a result, the “MICA Euromap 15” provides a customisable interface to the plant MES/ERP, configurable with any specific operational software.
Forryan said that Harting UK first implemented the devices across its own in-house production injection moulding lines. Integrating IIoT/MES accessing edge computing devices directly with legacy machine allowed machine process parameters to be remotely monitored and modified more quickly via centralised factory control stations, reducing downtime and enabling manpower to be much more effectively employed. Machine operators could even monitor and affect the process of the production line from off-site, via a smartphone or suitable tablet device. “The return-on-investment payback period was 6-12 months,” he asserted.
Gary Powner, managing director at Omega Plastics (L)
UK plastics manufacturer Omega Plastics has invested in an all-electric injection moulding machine from Sumitomo (SHI) Demag, in a bid to save energy costs and the environment.
In an 18 April statement, the company, which has sites across North East England, said pressure is mounting on plastics processors to carefully consider what equipment to invest in for the future.
According to Gary Powner, managing director at Omega Plastics, the investment makes sense despite a premium of 20% compared to hydraulic machinery.
“When you then subsequently save between 40% and 70% on energy costs, it doesn’t take long to recoup the additional cost and start making further savings,” he noted.
This is Omega Plastics’ second all electric machine from Sumitomo (SHI) Demag and it will replace an older hydraulic machine at its factory in Blyth, one of three facilities the company operates.
The company bought its first Sumitomo Demag IntElect machine three years ago.
In addition to that, Omega Plastics has also invested in clean tech, all electric machinery at its factory in Hartlepool.
In June last year, it installed a new 50-tonne injection moulding machine manufactured by Fanuc at the Hartlepool site, to increase medical production by 25%.
Sumitomo (SHI) Demag has reported a significant shift in the market over the last three years as its customers move from traditional hydraulic machines to more environmentally-friendly alternatives like its Systec ‘Servo’ hydraulic option and the IntElect all-electric machine.
With 11 exhibits at the significantly enlarged BOY’s booth and additional 6 BOY injection moulding machines at the booths of its partner companies, BOY willpresent more machines than ever before at K 2019.
Also BOY makes use of the K 2019 platform to present its new technologies and developments to a large audience. For example, BOY is going to present its new plastification technology Servo-Plast for the first time at the K 2019 as well as a new alternative positioning option for its successful Linear-Handling LR 5 on an injection moulding machine. The result is the saving of valuable footprint.
Bernd Fischer, BOY Area Manager Application Technology and Service, pinpointed the prospects for the upcoming highlight of the plastics industry: "During the eight days of this trade fair, our focus is on the increasing automation and networking of injection moulding machines and peripherals.”
“To demonstrate these digitization possibilities, we will present a 2K hard / soft application. With the active participation of the trade visitors the interaction of injection moulding machine, Handling, other peripherals and a Cobot with collaborating robot technology is rounded off in an impressive barista show. Both, the production data as well as the individual key data of the ‘delightful’ trade fair application can be traced back at any time according to Industry 4.0. The ‘Internet of Things’ is thus increasingly finding its way into our plastics processing industry.”
The issue of sustainability will be another focus of the BOY-trade fair presentation in Dusseldorf. Bio-based and recycled materials are processed on BOY injection moulding machines in five different applications.
In addition to the technical innovations, the specialist for injection moulding machines up to 1250 kN clamping force based in Neustadt-Fernthal, will demonstrate its core competencies in the overmoulding technology, in micro-injection moulding as well as in the processing of Elastomers and Silicones.
At CHINAPLAS 2019, WINTEC, a member of the ENGEL Group, highlights and showcases two machines that exhibit how high quality combines with the high efficiency. Customers can witness WINTEC’s product lines of a servo-hydraulic and an all-electric injection moulding machines which cover a broad spectrum of applications.
t-win: High energy efficiency and sensitive mould protection
The servo-hydraulic injection moulding machines of the t-win series are offered with clamping forces from 4,500 to 17,500 kN, which means they are particularly ideal to produce large or three-dimensionally complex components.
During CHINAPLAS, a t-win 13500-7000 injection moulding machine with a clamping force of 1350t impressively demonstrates the performance of the series by producing auto lamp housings made from polypropylene. The shot weight is 1,200 grams in a 2 cavity mold, while each cycle takes less than 70 seconds.
The t-win machines are equipped with the servowin servo-hydraulics as standard, which reduces energy consumption by more than 60% in comparison with conventional hydraulic injection moulding machines.
Other advantages that ensure a high degree of energy efficiency include operating point optimisation and the dual-platen design of the clamping unit with low moving masses and exposed tie-bars.
The dual-platen clamping unit was developed in Europe and guarantees precise mould guiding and maximum platen parallelism throughout the machine’s long service life, which leads to sensitive mould protection, outstanding dynamics and short dry cycle times. Parallel auxiliary movements such as the ejector, core pulls, or jets, are optional features.
The t-win 13500-7000 at CHINAPLAS is equipped with a viper 40 from ENGEL's linear robot series. The viper removes the finished parts from the mould and places them on the conveyor belt.
All-electric e-win for high precision and process stability
In the injection moulding machines of the e-win series, all machine movements are servo-electrical driven. The precision of movements ensures stable processes and a consistently high component quality, guaranteeing a fast return on investment.
The e-win series also allows for shorter cycle times. These are realized by the parallel movements of the drive axles as well as the breath-taking acceleration, up to 22 m/s2, of the injection axle.
Additional factors that contribute to efficiency are the low power consumption and the compact design. With clamping forces from 500 kN to 2,800 kN, the machines are used in a wide range of applications, where clean, high precision and quality processes are required.
At CHINAPLAS, an e-win 1000-170 with a clamping force of 100t is used to produce flip-top caps from polypropylene with a cycle time of 8.5 seconds.
Insights into intelligent manufacturing
As a member of the ENGEL Group, WINTEC is committed to the advanced concepts of the group. During CHINAPLAS, its exhibits operational data from the booth is transferred online and displayed in a manufacturing intelligence room in a remote location.
Via internet connection with real time machine data, WINTEC presents its leading concepts of future factory automation and Industry 4.0 readiness and demonstrates the benefits brought by digitization in manufacturing.
Rapid on-site service for high availability
WINTEC machines are designed and engineered in Europe and produced in China. Opened in 2014, the plant in Changzhou is tied into the global quality management of the ENGEL Group. Consequently, the same strict quality standards apply there as in all ENGEL plants worldwide.
In addition to quality, service performance is a decisive factor and affects the availability of the injection moulding machines. With a local dedicated service team and an in-house spare parts supply, WINTEC offers industry leading after sales support.
WINTEC’s Changzhou plant is currently being further expanded by doubling the manufacturing footprint to allow and cater for the steadily increased demand of their successful injection molding machines. The impressive construction works started end of 2018 and will be completed this year.
During the run-up conference held for K 2019, ENGEL unveiled its focuses of appearance at the upcoming trade show. One of these is circular economy. Dr. Stefan Engleder, the CEO of the ENGEL Group, emphasises the huge importance of this topic: “It is my personal concern to contribute to establishing a circular economy for the plastics industry, which bears a global responsibility that can only be met by companies working together. I therefore welcome the focus on circular economy at the most important international industry event. K will give this subject even more impetus.” According to Engleder, one of the priority tasks on the way to the circular economy is to open up a broader range of applications for processed plastic waste. At K 2019, five exhibits at three locations will demonstrate ENGEL's contribution as an injection moulding machine manufacturer and system solutions provider. The focus is on processing recycled material, improving process stability, and the trend towards design for recycling. Greater process stability, wider use of recycled materials “The stability of the injection moulding processes is key to being able to use recycled materials also for higher quality products,” explained Günther Klammer, Head of Plasticizing Systems division and Circular Economy expert at ENGEL. Recycled material is naturally subject to greater batch variations than virgin material. In order to significantly reduce its influence on the process, the intelligent iQ weight control assistance system will be used at ENGEL's stand to process 100% recycled ABS. The software from ENGEL's inject 4.0 program ensures a constant melt volume during injection and thus a consistently high product quality, even with strongly fluctuating raw material quality. Increasing recycled materials in sandwich-moulded components One further approach to using recycled materials more widely is sandwich components with a core of recycled material embedded in virgin material. The aim is, on the one hand, to design increasing numbers of products for this type of two-component production, while, on the other, increasing the proportion of recycled material in the sandwich structures. The proportion of recycled material that can be used in the core is essentially determined by the geometry of the moulded part and the flow pattern in the cavity. The transport boxes that ENGEL will be producing at its stand using the ENGEL skinmelt process pose a particular challenge in this respect. Despite this complex component geometry, ENGEL still succeeds in achieving a very high level of recycled content of over 50% with the skinmelt process. What is also important is the grade purity ensuring that the sandwich-moulded products can also be easily recycled at the end of their service life. ENGEL is exclusively using polypropylene for the manufacture of the transport boxes; the recycled material here originates from post-consumer collection. ENGEL collaborates with Der Grüne Punkt (The green dot), Duales System Deutschland (DSD, Germany), to this end. Considering recycling as early as in product development “Designing for recycling” means that the subsequent recycling process is taken into account as early as in the development of a new product. Further examples where this is already working well can be found in the packaging industry and in composite lightweight design. Wherever look in composite lightweight design, thermoplastic-based solutions point the way to the circular economy. In the ENGEL organomelt process, fibre-reinforced prepregs with a thermoplastic matrix such as organic sheets and tapes are overmoulded with a thermoplastic from the matrix material's material group. The entire composite component consists only of thermoplastic and glass fibres, and has the potential to be recycled at the end of its useful life. At its stand, ENGEL will be demonstrating the production-ready process with a demanding automotive application. Giving fishing nets a second life Meanwhile, in the outdoor exhibition area between Halls 10 and 16, post-consumer waste will be converted into miniature waste containers on an ENGEL victory injection moulding machine. Erema's recycling pavilion will be located in the immediate vicinity. Another victory machine will produce card boxes from recycled fishing nets there. The polyamide recycled material comes from Chile, where three American machine manufacturers have set up collection points for end-of-life nets. In Chile, the nets are recycled on an Erema system and processed into skateboards and sun glasses on ENGEL injection moulding machines. The project proves how interdisciplinary and international interaction can also be used to close material cycles where there are no comprehensive collection systems to date. “Circular Economy is a worldwide challenge with different regional focuses”, pinpointed Engleder. “With our experience from Europe, we can contribute to people taking the first steps towards circular economy in other regions of the world, such as South America or Asia. The closer enterprises cooperate along the value chain, the better this works,” he concluded.
Ford prototype sub-frame
Canadian-headquartered automotive parts supplier Magna has opened a new European composites centre of excellence in Esslingen near Stuttgart, Germany for development of lightweight structural parts and exterior components in “advanced materials” for European automotive OEMs.
Equipment in the centre includes a new 2,300-tonnes clamping force V?Duo vertical version of the V-Duo 2-platen injection moulding machine from Engel Austria that can compression mould fibre reinforced thermosetting plastic materials and sheet moulding compounds (SMC).
Magna refers specifically to applications such as under-hood sub-frames, door panels and vehicle hoods. These applications have been so far developed at Magna’s composites centre of excellence set up in 2010 in Concord, Ontario. They can now be additionally developed for European OEMs in the new Esslingen centre.
One example of such applications mentioned by Magna is the carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) hood of the 2016 Cadillac ATS-V coupe and CTS-V sedan, produced at Magna’s Polycon Industries subsidiary since August 2015 on a Siempelkamp press in Century Tool & Gauge tooling.
Barrday Advanced Material Solutions supplied the unidirectional (UD) CF epoxide prepreg used in the hood’s production. The application received the body exterior category fourth place in the SPE Central Europe autom0tive awards.
Another example mentioned by Magna is ongoing investigation with Ford into feasibility of mass production of CFRP vehicle under-hood sub?frames.
Among “several European automakers already pursuing joint development projects at the new centre”, Magna says that while one is considering sub-frames and another rear vehicle modules, there is also OEM interest in developing Class A paint-ready surface quality “body-in-white” exterior panels.
Plastics News Europe has seen Magna displaying an example of the Cadillac CFRP car hoods in Europe at e.g. the IAA 2015 automotive industry fair and the 2016 VDI plastics in automotive engineering congress.
Andrew Swikoski, composites global product line director at Magna Exteriors told PNE at IAA 2015 that the hoods are compression moulded in epoxide (EP) resin impregnated preforms (prepregs) with overall 10min cycle time including 8min cure. The hoods weigh 25?30% less than aluminium hoods, while providing increased stiffness and improved aerodynamics, Swikoski told PNE.
In the prototype CF-SMC sub-frame prototype developed by Magna with Ford in 1Q 2017, 45 stamped steel parts have been replaced by two adhesively bonded and riveted moulded parts and four metal parts, reducing weight by 34% (9.3kg) and saving 30-40% on tooling costs. The sub?frame would typically provide a place for attachment of the engine and wheels, while contributing rigidity and crash management.
The CF-SMC part has been made from 25mm long chopped 50k industrial grade Zoltek Panex 35 carbon fibre in a modified version of Magna’s EpicBlend CFS-Z SMC vinyl ester resin based SMC.
Six EpicBlend CFS-Z pre-preg fabric patches, placed between the SMC charges and compression co-moulded to the CFS-Z SMC, provide for additional tailored reinforcement to selected areas of the sub-frame where higher mechanical properties are needed.
Swikoski also revealed that the SMC is also used to overmould stainless steel sleeve inserts at body mount locations, that the part includes integrated composite crush cans and that energy absorbing front horns are also produced in CF-SMC. Undirectional (UD) fibre reinforced laminates applied on both sides of the sub-frame provide additional selective reinforcement.
The Bioplastics Award ceremony, which will take place this year for the twelfth time, is an annual highpoint in the global bioplastics calendar. Fondly known as the “Bioplastics Oskar”, the Award is presented each year during the European Bioplastics Conference in honour of the latest achievements, innovations and successes of manufacturers, processors, brand owners, and users of bioplastic materials. This year’s conference will be held on Nov 28-29 in Berlin, Germany. The Awards are an initiative of bioplastics Magazine and presented by that publication’s founder and editor, Michael Thielen.
Entries were submitted from around the world for careful evaluation by the five judges hailing from the academic world, the press and industry associations from America, Europa and Asia, who have now announced the shortlist of finalists for the Award.
To be eligible for consideration, the proposed company, product, or service must have been developed or have been on the market during 2016 or 2017.
This year’s final contenders, in no order of ranking, are:
TU/e Eindhoven University of Technology (the Netherlands): Fully biobased pedestrian bridge
A fully biobased pedestrian bridge has been installed at the TU/e campus in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. The bridge, the first of its kind, spans the Dommel river and is wholly made from biobased materials. Strength is provided by the flax and hemp fibres which are used to reinforce the biobased epoxy resin, around an internal core of PLA bio-foam. The PLA foam is used as lost formwork for the structural biobased composite skin. Weight was an important consideration, as the bridge was transported in its entirety to its final location and put in place in one piece.
After a successful load test for the building inspection of the city of Eindhoven (5,0 kN/m2), the bridge was installed during the Dutch Design week in October 2016. The project was the result of a research collaboration between the universities in Eindhoven and Delft, the Centre for Biobased Economy and NPSP, a specialist producer of sustainable composites. Using High Tech Glass sensor technology, the bridge is now monitored during use.
Biobrush - Bioplastic toothbrush made of wood scrapsBiobrush turns wood scraps into toothbrushes. The handle, as well as the packaging, are made from bioplastics based on cellulose made of the wood waste from sustainable forestry. The bristles are made of 100 % renewable polyamide: the main component is castor oil, without harmful emollients, the colour masterbatches are tailored for use with bioplastics. The toothbrushes are clearly designed and, in line with the company’s ambition to make sustainable products accessible to as many people as possible, are available at a fair price. The toothbrush body and packaging are biodegradable; the bristles are not.
MAIP (Italy): I am NATURE: the first Bio-Technopolymer
I am NATURE is a special PHBH based compound, available in tailor made grades and suitable for high temperature applications. It offers a sustainable solution preserving the technical properties of a traditional thermoplastic material. For a new series of switch cover frames, ABB was looking for a bioplastic material that could replace engineering polymers such as ABS or PC/ ABS. In a joint development, ABB and Maip created a special I am NATURE grade able to meet all the requirements of the component. The new compound exhibits properties such as high dimensional stability, thermal resistance (about 130 °C), superior UV and light resistance, easy colourability and easy mouldability in multi cavity moulds. Easy processability and specific electric features such as, for example, a glow wire of 650 °C at 2 mm. Exceptional scratch resistance was obtained, even for matte textures. The outstanding mass colourability of the new I am NATURE compound allows the painting step to be eliminated, thus dramatically reducing the carbon footprint of the component.
Adidas and Amsilk (Germany): Futurecraft Biofabric shoe
The adidas Futurecraft Biofabric shoe features an upper made from 100% Biosteel fibre, a nature-based and completely biodegradable high-performance fibre, developed by the biotech company AMSilk (Planegg, Germany). The material offers a unique combination of properties that are crucial in performance, such as being 15% lighter in weight than conventional synthetic fibres as well as having the potential to be the strongest fully natural material available.
According to AMSilk, the fibres are made of 100 % nature based biopolymers, are 100 % vegan and biodegradable. The company’s process uses genetically engineered E. coli samples to express silk protein derived from the DNA of the European garden cross spider, and can generate about 20 different silk grades from four silk varieties
ICEE Containers (Australia): Foldable, reusable insulating box
Since commercial production of expandable polystyrene in 1952, the industry worldwide has been attempting to mould a durable, living hinge in particle foam. ICEE’s patented innovation means insulated boxes are no longer disadvantaged by their bulk as they can now be economically stored and transported flat, making them easy to return for reuse or recycling. ICEE has successfully moulded a living hinge in various particle foams including BASF’s ecovio a plant based compostable biofoam. The superior insulating and cushioning properties of particle foam makes them ideal for the expanding ecommerce grocery market, paddock to plate and the traditional markets such as pharmaceuticals, fresh produce and seafood. ICEE’s fold flat insulated boxes are 98% air, 100% recyclable and now available in compostable plant-based biofoam.
Photo by Caroline Seidel KraussMaffei CEO Hans Ulrich Golz at Fakuma.
KraussMaffei Technologies GmbH is introducing a new manufacturing execution system called MaXecution at Fakuma 2017.
The new software offering is "tailored to the requirements of small injection moulding companies," KraussMaffei said.
The company said the software provides greater transparency in manufacturing through productivity indicators regarding overall equipment effectiveness, mould and resource management, and statistics on machines and rejects.
"In total, using this software means better capacity utilisation of the machinery pool, fewer rejects and higher overall equipment effectiveness," the company said.
The new offering features three versions, allowing processors to decide what features they want to utilise in their MES.
MaXecution is based on MES Hydra from MPDV Mikrolab GmbH of Mosbach, Germany.
"The increasing digitalisation does not stop on account of minor plastics processors. However, the procurement of a complete MES system often involves excessive expenditure. With the new MaXecution, we offer our customers, in addition to the appropriate injection moulding machine, a compact solution tailored specifically to their processes," said Hans Ulrich Golz, president of KM's injection moulding machinery segment, in a statement.
MaXecution, the company said, "offers reliable real-time data throughout the production phase, thus facilitating the ? planning, control and monitoring of the entire production process."
"With the new MaXecution, we support our customers in the long term on their path to digital, paperless production and offer them a tailored system to improve the capacity utilisation of their machinery pool and to increase their overall equipment effectiveness," Golz said in the statement.
Creation of MaXecution, the company said, adds another offering in KraussMaffei's portfolio of Plastics 4.0 products.
KraussMaffei, with partner MPDV, is presenting live demonstrations of MaXecution for the first time ever at Fakuma 2017.
"Visitors can experience live how manufacturing data for the injection moulding process are collected and evaluated. In addition, in several brief presentations each day KraussMaffei will provide information on useful MES functions in plastics processing," the company said.