Efficiency, productivity, availability, quality and flexibility are decisive for a competitive edge. But to achieve optimal results, you need to do more than just deploy the best injection moulding equipment; it is all about leveraging its potential to the max. inject 4.0 – this is ENGEL's approach for facing these challenges. To this end, ENGEL already has numerous products in its portfolio today that support customers in these optimisations. ENGEL is showcasing these products at Fakuma 2015. For the first time, the entire trade fair stand has been designed as a smart factory, self-optimising production based on three core elements:

  • smart machines that boost process capability and quality with self-adapting, decentralised systems, 
  • smart production to ensure high levels of productivity thanks to horizontal and vertical data integration, and
  • smart services that improve availability thanks to proximity and the use of remote maintenance tools.

During the trade fair, all the machine data will be collected on a central computer. The ENGEL e-factory MES solution running on the computer provides features for scheduling jobs, querying the injection moulding machines' states, and creating quality reports and documentation (smart production). At the same time, trade fair visitors can look forward to insights into using the ENGEL e‑connect online customer portal to identify and order spare parts, or issuing service requests without wasting time (smart services).

There can be no doubt that also the machines at the ENGEL trade fair stand work in a smart way. For example, software solutions from the iQ product family enhance process stability by continually analysing the plasticising and moulding process and automatically adjusting in case of deviations from targets, while ENGEL e-flomo autonomously ensures a constant supply of cooling water, thus contributing towards maximising process capability.

The inject 4.0 products that lead to optimal overall results differ for each injection moulding task, each company and each location – another fact that will become clear at the ENGEL trade fair stand. The smart factory in Friedrichshafen will be presenting five innovative applications from five different industries, each of which poses its individual challenges.

Automotive: economic processing of premium woods

Premium woods in the automobile interior purvey well-being and a touch of luxury. In collaboration with HIB Trim Part Solutions in Bruchsal, Germany – an NBHX Trim GmbH subsidiary – and other partners, ENGEL has developed a process for economical manufacturing of decor elements with genuine wood veneers. Using the ENGEL clearmelt method, the veneers are back-injected with a thermoplastic in a single step and coated with transparent polyurethane to protect the surface. The method was introduced in 2009, and now the first serial application is imminent. Before the first manufacturing cell designed for production use is commissioned at HIB Trim Part Solutions, it will be producing premium wood decor elements in a 2-cavity mould at Fakuma.

The core of the manufacturing cell is an ENGEL duo 3550/650 combi M injection moulding machine with an reversing platen that supports high-volume production with short cycle times and maximum productivity. On one side of the mould, the wood veneers are back-injected with PC/ABS, while at the same time on the other side, the base elements produced immediately prior to this are flooded with PUR. ENGEL's system partner for the PUR technology is Hennecke in St. Augustin, Germany. To be able to manage the entire polyurethane process via the display on the injection moulding machine, ENGEL has fully integrated the Hennecke solution into the CC300 machine control unit.

Advances in terms of materials also help to improve the productivity of the ENGEL clearmelt method. The polyurethane used at Fakuma already includes a separating agent, thus saving an entire step. Thus far, cavity surfaces needed to be sprayed with separating agent before processing PUR.

The production cell is highly automated. An ENGEL easix console robot is located above the clamping unit on the injection moulding machine; it both insert places the wood veneer and removes and discharges the finished parts. This is the first time that ENGEL is presenting its new large-scale ENGEL easix robot at a trade fair. Thanks to cooperation with Kuka robots – headquartered in Augsburg, Germany – ENGEL is now in a position to automate its largest injection moulding machines with clamping forces of up to 5,500 tonnes throughout with multi-axis robots.

Just like with the smaller ENGEL easix designs, and the linear robots of the ENGEL viper model range, the large multi-axis robots are also integrated into the CC300 control unit of the ENGEL injection moulding machines. Plastics processors benefit from consistent control logic for the injection moulding machine and the automation solution as well as improved machine availability as the setup technician can now complete many tasks for which a programmer was needed in legacy systems. Because the injection moulding machine and robot access the same database, they automatically coordinate their motion sequences and control circuits to achieve maximum overall efficiency. In many applications, this contributes towards shorter overall cycle times.

Other partners for this trade fair presentation are Schöfer from Schwertberg, Austria, and Votteler from Korntal-Münchingen, Germany.

Technical Moulding: tie-bar-less technology for best-in-class consistency

The significance of multiple component technology in LSR processing is growing. In many applications it is the prerequisite for the integrated injection moulding process that connects thermoplastics and silicone in stable layers. One example of this is diaphragms, as used to ensure functionality and safety in pumps or ventilation systems. In collaboration with its partner Schneegans Freudenberg Silicon (Losenstein, Austria), ENGEL will be producing diaphragms made of glass fibre reinforced polyamide and liquid silicon at Fakuma 2015. The machine used here is an ENGEL victory 200H/60L/140 combi injection moulding machine with an integrated ENGEL viper 40 linear robot. In each cycle, the robot takes off eight finished parts and transfers the PA base bodies to the second set of cavities in the 8+8-cavity serial mould, where they are overmoulded with silicone. While LSR processing is going on, a new set of base bodies is created. In LSR technology, Elmet (Oftering, Austria) is involved in the trade fair exhibit as a further partner.

Manufacturing two-component parts optimally leverages the efficiency potential of the tie-bar-less ENGEL victory machine. The high-volume, two-component mould reaches right up to the edge of the mould mounting platen and thus fits on a comparatively compact 140-tonne injection moulding machine. Automation is a second efficiency factor. The linear robot can access the cavities directly from the side, without needing to negotiate obstacles, and thus operate safely despite the large gripper. Finally, efficiency factor number three results from the very high level of process consistency which the tie-bar-less design of the clamping unit ensures. The patented force divider enables the moving mould mounting platen to follow the mould exactly while clamping force is building up and ensures that the clamping force is evenly distributed across the platen face. Both the outer and inner cavities are therefore kept closed with exactly the same force, significantly reducing mould wear and raising product quality. Virtually burr-, waste- and rework-free and fully automated processing of LSR is the prerequisite to producing high-tech products made of liquid silicone in an economic way.

Teletronics: consistent process integration boosts competitive ability

For the first time at Fakuma 2015, ENGEL is presenting a highly integrated, fully automated process for manufacturing thermal switch housings – from the raw material to the 100% tested and labelled metal/plastic composite parts. The core of the production cell is an ENGEL insert 60V/35 single vertical machine. Upstream of the injection process there are a strip uncoiler, a press module and processing module for tapping a thread; downstream there are quality controls, laser marking and another press module.

Thermal switches, such as those used for monitoring electric motors in automobiles or in the domestic appliance industry, are traditionally produced in a complex, multiple stage process. The metal components are typically punched and overmoulded at different locations. This not only requires a considerable logistics overhead, but also ties up a large amount of material because two independent processes need to be ramped up. This is a considerable cost factor, especially where non-ferrous metals are used.

The savings potential through process integration is correspondingly high. The system solution implemented by ENGEL in collaboration with its partner MMS Modular Molding Systems (Berndorf, Austria) guarantees the lowest possible unit costs and makes composite manufacturing economical even at locations with high wage levels.

The raw material for the brass carrier plates is fed directly from a reel and pre-punched including creating a thread. The thread is servo-electrically tapped before the carrier plates – still on the line – are overmoulded with fibreglass filled polyamide. Quality inspection occurs directly after the injection moulding process. In addition to camera-based checks, high voltage testing has been integrated into the progressive mould for the first time, thus ensuring a 100% short-circuit test during production. The OK parts are laser marked to ensure complete traceability before the sprue and sub-gates are removed in the second press module and the finished parts are taken off the line. Eight ready to install parts leave the production cell every 20 seconds. Thanks to the modular design of the MMS systems, additional processing modules can be easily integrated, for example, for resistance or laser welding, riveting, assembly or cleaning of the parts.

Where ENGEL delivers the production line as system solution from a single source, the entire process is visualised and controlled via the CC300 control unit on the ENGEL injection moulding machine. This substantially reduces complexity and simplifies operation. At the same time, consistent integration of the controls ensures complete process documentation and traceability.

Packaging: IML with maximum flexibility

Flexibility is the focus of ENGEL's Packaging exhibition area at Fakuma 2015. An ENGEL e‑motion 440/160 will be producing 155-ml round containers with an integrated tamper-proof seal using a 4-cavity mould by Otto Hofstetter (Uznach, Switzerland). Thanks to in-mould labelling the production cell will be outputting ready-to-fill packaging. IML automation was implemented by Beck Automation (Oberengstringen, Switzerland). The new BECK-FLEX system will be celebrating its global premiere at the ENGEL trade fair stand.

The partner companies are collaborating to demonstrate how IML packaging can be produced with maximum economic efficiency despite small batch sizes. BECK-FLEX supports flexible use with various moulds – for both containers and caps –, labels and injection moulding machines with a clamping force of up to 420 tonnes.

As cycle times, in addition to flexibility, are decisive for a packing manufacturer's ability to compete, ENGEL has designed its all-electric ENGEL e-motion injection moulding machine for high-performance operation throughout. Cycle times of well below 3 seconds and injection speeds of more than 500 mm per second are achieved. ENGEL e-motion machine's combine best-in-class performance with maximum energy efficiency and hygiene. The closed system for toggle levers and spindles guarantees optimal, clean lubrication of all moving machine components at all times, thus complying with the strict cleanliness requirements of the food industry.

Medical: even more safety in the clean room

The centerpiece in ENGEL's medical exhibition space at Fakuma combines no less than three premieres at the same time: the all-electric and tie-bar-less ENGEL e-motion TL machine in the new 80-tonnes variant; and ENGEL is setting new standards in consistent GMP-compliant clean room production with the new stainless steel pipe distributor and gripper housing.

During the five days of the fair, an ENGEL e-motion 170/80 TL will be producing needle holders for 1-ml safety syringes in a 16-cavity mould by Fostag Formenbau (Stein am Rhein, Switzerland). The filigree polystyrene parts – the shot weight is just 0.08 g per part – are designed with a predetermined breaking point that makes it impossible to re-use disposable syringes. This is an important safety feature, especially in emerging countries.

The very thin and different wall thicknesses require extremely precise process control. Too high a clamping force, or fluctuations in the melt volume immediately lead to rejects. To prevent this, two software solutions from the iQ product family by ENGEL are used. One of them is iQ weight control, which automatically detects fluctuations in the melt volume and material viscosity and compensates for them in the same shot. The other is iQ clamp control, the new ENGEL software, which continuously adjusts the clamping force to match the current process parameters based on the mould breathing.

In terms of design, too, the ENGEL e-motion 80 TL ticks all the boxes for constant process control. The innovative frame concept of the all-electric tie-bar-less machine guarantees particularly high platen parallelism and ensures that the clamping force is evenly distributed across the mould mounting surface.

ENGEL introduced the all-electric and tie-bar-less small-scale machine at K 2013, and is now extending the model range upwards with the 80-ton variant. Because there are no tie bars in the way, the mould mounting platens can be fully used up to their very edges. This means that large moulds can be mounted on relatively small injection moulding machines, which in turn keeps the investment and operating costs low and enables particularly compact production cells. In the clean room in particular, productivity per floor space has already become an important efficiency metric.

Further benefits of tie-bar-less technology include fast tooling processes and efficient automation solutions because the robot can reach the cavities directly from the side without having to work around any obstacles. The trade fair exhibit will also demonstrate this. The ENGEL e‑motion 80 TL is equipped with an ENGEL viper 12 linear robot that hangs over the needle holders to the pipe distribution system. The moulded parts are packed in bags separated by cavity in order to support batch tracking right through to the level of individual cavities. To avoid interrupting production when changing the bags, the distribution system is equipped with a buffer. The pipe distributor developed by ENGEL, in contrast to systems previously available on the market, is made completely of stainless steel and thus contributes towards reducing particulate emissions in the clean room.

The robot gripper housing, also developed by ENGEL, achieves something similar. Thanks to its move, easy to clean surfaces, the housing enables the use of standard grippers in the GMP environment.

As a system provider, ENGEL is continually expanding its portfolio of GMP-compliant peripherals. For example, conveyor belts are also offered in a special clean room design. From a single source, ENGEL supplies highly integrated and automated production cells for medical technology and also handles the entire GMP documentation for its customers, on request.

ENGEL at Fakuma 2015: Hall A5, Stand A5-5204