How can challenging small parts be produced with the maximum cost effectiveness? How can production cell availability be boosted with very little effort? Visitors to Expo Plásticos 2021 from 10 to 12 November in Guadalajara, Mexico, will find answers to these and other competition-critical questions at the Engel Stand no. 600. The injection moulding machine manufacturer and system solution provider is demonstrating the new opportunities opened up by digitalisation in combination with solid machine technology.
During the three days of the fair, an Engel e-victory 170/80 injection moulding machine will be producing needle holders for safety syringes in a 16-cavity mould. The delicate polystyrene parts have an individual shot weight of just 0.08 g. They include a predetermined breaking point that makes it impossible to reuse disposable syringes.
The filigree needle holders have an individual shot weight of just 0.08 g. They require an extremely precise injection moulding process
Smart assistance compensates for process variation
The very thin and different wall thicknesses of the needle holders require extremely precise process control. Fluctuations in the melt volume immediately lead to rejects. Two smart assistance systems by Engel are being used to prevent this. One of them is iQ weight control, which autonomously detects fluctuations in the melt volume and material viscosity and compensates for them in the same shot. The other is iQ flow control, which ensures constant mould temperature conditions by automatically adjusting temperature differences in the cooling water manifold circuit.
In addition, the design of the e-victory machine ensures a high level of process consistency. This is due to the excellent parallelism of the mould mounting platens, which is also maintained during clamping force build-up and injection. Added to this are the force dividers, which distribute the clamping force evenly over the mould mounting platens.
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 multiple-cavity moulds can be mounted on relatively small injection moulding machines, which in turn keeps the investment and operating costs low and enables compact production cells.
Further benefits of tie-bar-less technology include fast mould set-up 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 also demonstrates this. The e victory machine is equipped with an Engel viper 12 linear robot that transfers the needle holders to the integrated pipe distribution system. The small moulded parts are automatically packed in bags separated by cavity in order to support batch tracking right through to the level of individual cavities. The pipe distributor developed by Engel is made entirely of stainless steel and contributes towards reducing particulate emissions in the cleanroom.
Condition monitoring boosts availability
"Our customers are increasingly leveraging the potential of digital solutions," as Emilio Lopéz, Managing Director of Engel de Mexico reports. "Smart assistance systems from the iQ product family are often the first step on the way to the smart factory." The modular structure of Engel's inject 4.0 program makes it easy to get started with individual, smaller solutions and then further develop the digitalisation strategy in line with needs.
Visitors to Expo Plásticos will also be able to discover at the Engel trade fair stand how digitalisation also boosts efficiency in service and maintenance. The challenge is to guarantee high availability of the production cells while at the same time reducing costs. Engel's answer to this is e-connect.monitor. The condition monitoring solution checks the condition of process-critical machine components in order to reliably predict the components' remaining service life. In this way, unplanned production cell downtime can be avoided, and the service life of the components fully utilised. e connect.monitor is available for plasticising screws among other components.
Abrasion on the flights of the screw impact on quality. e connect.monitor determines the condition of the screw without needing to dismantle the plasticising unit.
In classical maintenance, the plasticising screw is a black box. Its condition can only be assessed by interrupting production and removing the screw. A time-consuming and resource-intensive process that is therefore too seldomly undertaken in many companies. In contrast to this, e-connect.monitor checks the condition of the screw without having to dismantle the plasticising unit. The measurement system can be very easily installed on the outside of the barrel. The measurement only takes a few minutes.
e-connect.expert view extends online support to include live videos
With e-connect.expert view, Engel is presenting a second innovative service topic at Expo Plásticos. Some three quarters of all urgent service cases can be resolved remotely by using live videos for online support and remote maintenance. Troubleshooting times are reduced by 70 percent.
Video telephony is supported on both smartphones and tablets and using augmented reality (AR) glasses. The only pre-requisite is an internet connection. The Engel service technician sends the customer a link to the e-connect.expert platform to start the collaborative work immediately. Even a slow data transmission rate of 300 kbit/s or more is sufficient for interruption-free video calls.
“We are increasingly becoming a partner for our customers over the entire life cycle of our injection moulding machines and system solutions," as López clarifies. To this end, Engel has further strengthened its presence in Mexico in recent years. In addition to Querétaro in central Mexico, there is a second sales and service location in the Monterrey region in the north of the country. Machine technology centres and virtually networked meeting rooms are available for training and workshops at both locations.