TCT Asia, held from 21 to 23 February 2019 in Shanghai, China, is Asia’s largest exhibition for additive manufacturing (AM). At stand D60 in hall W5, Arburg will use the opportunity to showcase additive production of functional plastic components made from qualified original materials. Two 200-3X freeformers will process medical TPE-S and flame-proof PC for applications in the medical technology and electronics industries. Several dozen components will also serve as examples to demonstrate the capabilities of Arburg Plastic Freeforming (APF).
“The market for additive manufacturing is growing rapidly and offers an interesting production technology solution to complement injection moulding,” says Lukas Pawelczyk, responsible for global freeformer sales at Arburg. “With our decades of know-how in plastics processing and our two freeformers in sizes 200-3X and 300-3X, we offer attractive solutions for both experts and newcomers to additive production using the APF process.”
Original materials for medical and electronic components
The APF process is ideally suited to the industrial additive manufacturing of functional components. This includes individual plastic parts for consumer goods, spare parts made of original materials and implants for medical technology. FDA-approved TPE-S (Medalist MD 12130H) with Shore A hardness 32 can only be processed on the freeformer. The machine at TCT Asia 2019 will use the material to produce soft medical components with the aid of a support material. The second 200-3X freeformer will process aerospace-approved PC with flame-proof properties (Lexan 940) for applications in the electronics industry.
A wide range for industrial additive manufacturing
With the 200-3X freeformer, featuring two discharge units, Arburg already covers a wide spectrum for industrial additive manufacturing. The new 300-3X freeformer is even able to process three components and therefore produce complex functional components in resilient hard/soft combinations with support structures. This is unique to date within the industry. The pair of freeformers will demonstrate the production of the desired plastic parts in reproducible high part quality. They can also be connected to an MES, such as the Arburg ALS host computer system, and be automated with robotic systems. This enables integration into IT-networked production lines. If necessary, the relevant process and quality parameters can be traced back to the specific part.
With the 300-3X freeformer, the designation 300 stands for the available part carrier surface area in square centimetres. It is almost 50 percent larger than that of the 200-3X freeformer. “3X” refers to the three axes of the part carrier movable in the x, y and z directions. The build chamber now offers space for larger small-volume batches and 50 percent wider parts with dimensions of up to 234 x 134 x 230 millimetres.
Numerous components and interactive stations
Trade visitors to TCT Asia 2019 can also gain an impression of the capabilities of the freeformer exhibits based on numerous functional parts. Exhibited parts will include gripper fingers in hard/soft combinations, cable clips made from PP, transparent test discs made from PMMA and bellows made from elastic TPE.
Two interactive stations will be available where trade visitors can test the functionality and durability of selected functional parts for themselves. These will include a very thin and elastic “spider membrane” made of medical TPE-S, screw caps made of PP and skull implants made of resorbable PLLA.
Benchmark parts for potential customers
In the Arburg Prototyping Center (APC) at the German headquarters in Lossburg, a number of freeformers produce benchmark parts for prospective customers. Further machines are used for the same purpose at the company’s subsidiaries across the world, including in Asia. Before any customer purchase, preliminary trials are conducted to determine whether the technology is actually suitable for the desired part, material and application.
LS Mtron Introduces the ONE* MuCellâ Product Line – a ‘One Stop Solution’ for Foam Molding
LS Mtron has introduced a new line of injection molding machines, each equipped with Trexel MuCellâ technology for foam molding applications.
The ONE* MuCell® product line of injection molding machines consists of 10 models (from 500~3,300 tons), with features that will help molders succeed with foam molding for a wide variety of applications. Key features include the Core Back function, which stabilizes and maximizes the foaming rates of a product, and the Servo Valve, which allows for precise position control
For more details on the advanced features of the ONE* MuCell® machines, see Table 1.
<Table 1> Key Features of the ONE* MuCell®
|U-shaped tie bar teeth||-Higher tie bar strength
-Improved half nut tightening
|Half nut – Simultaneous operation||-Reduced cycle time|
|Tie bar spacing construction(opt)||-Easy to change molds in low ceilings|
|Digital position sensor||-Precise position control
|KEBA Controller||-Precision control
-Enhanced user convenience
|Screw design only for MuCell® foaming||-L/D:23 (MMU:22)
-Ball Check Valve with backflow protection
|High-pressure system||-Reduced cycle time|
|Injection unit optimized for foam molding||-High floor area ratio and injection speed
-Accurate back pressure control
LS Mtron provides its ‘One Stop Solution’ for foam molding in various applications, ranging from molds and auxiliary equipment to complete turnkey machines. These turnkey packages will provide improved yield by offering customers the optimized conditions for foam molding based on LS Mtron’s accumulated know-how and experience.
LS Mtron and Trexel Agreement
LS Mtron, the largest manufacturer of injection molding machines from South Korea, signed its agreement with Trexel to license Trexel’s MuCellâ technology in 2019.
“MuCell is an outstanding technology that satisfies both light-weighting and quality of plastic products, and will contribute to customer productivity improvement and cost reduction,” said Seung-Dong Park, head of LS Mtron’s Injection Research Center. “We are pleased to now be introducing this new line of MuCell-capable molding machines to the plastics industry.”
CTO Kyung-Nyung Woo, head of LS Mtron’s Technology Development Division, said, “Through this agreement with Trexel, we will cooperate not only for current Micro cell technology but also for future Nano cell technology development to continuously strengthen lightweight technology.”
■ Inquiry: LS Mtron’s Molding Machine Division’s Website www.lsinjection.com
About LS Mtron Injection Molding Machines
LS Mtron Injection Molding Machines is a division of LS Corporation, a $30 billion USD conglomerate of companies that was founded by South Korean-based tech giant LG Corporation.
LS Mtron IMM was borne out of the Injection Molding Machinery needs of LG Corporation, one of the world’s largest plastic molders, who was producing components used in the manufacturing of LG-brand products. When LG needed more injection molding machines to keep up with its tremendous demand, they began making machines for their own use. LG originally produced their own machines using drawings licensed from Toshiba. Eventually, they created the LS Mtron brand which today produces up to 2,800 machines per year, not only for use by its own related companies (LG Electronics, LG Appliances, LS Automotive, LG Solar, etc.), but for many other molders around the world.
LS Mtron machines are premium quality, manufactured in supply-chain friendly South Korea. LS maintains total control over manufacturing its machines by leveraging the tremendous power of its founding company, LG Corporation, and its related spin-offs. This includes using Korean-made steel from an LS subsidiary, servo motors made by an LG-founded company, and more, including the ability to ship through another LG-related company, LX Pantos. This helps LS Mtron conquer the long lead times many others experience. When building a new molding machine, LS Mtron can achieve castings to cargo ready in about 100 days.
In the USA, LS Mtron Injection Molding Machines is led by Peter Gardner, Business Director. The company’s US headquarters are in Peachtree Corners, GA (near Atlanta), and its Tech Center is in Wood Dale, IL (near Chicago).
On The Road Of Pioneering Multi-Component Injection Molding Technology, FCS has a promising future
In recent years, multi-component injection molding technology has received increasing attention due to advantages such as high production efficiency, power saving and environmental protection, and high added value of products. It is applicable to a lot of industries, including automobiles, mobile phones, pens, electronic appliances, hand tools, daily necessities, construction, packaging and medical equipment. At the same time, as domestic and foreign companies are also increasing research on multi-component injection molding, new equipment and new technologies emerge one after another. For example, the technology of two-component/multi-component/multi-material/multi-angle injection molding has been developed and has made considerable progress, which has become the focus and hot spot of the injection molding industry in recent years.
Product diversification and differentiation are gradually formed
The advanced two-component injection molding machines developed by FCS include rotary type, rotating shaft type, electric type, sandwich / interval injection molding machine. After the strict test of market customers and actual machine verification,FCS has formed four series covering more than 30 specifications, and the clamping force ranges from 135 tons to 3,300 tons. They are widely applied in a wide range of industries such as automobiles, mobile phones, laptops, pens, hand tools, high-end daily necessities, cosmetics, and home appliances.
Hsiao-Chou Chen, manager of the Technical Department of FCS (Ningbo) Machinery Manufacturing Co., Ltd., said in an interview with Jufeng that the two-component injection molding technology is developed on the basis of the single-component single-material technology. It is the result of market demand for the purpose of replacing manpower with machines and improving the production efficiency of two-component parts and the quality of the combination of different materials. In the past, there were also inlaid metal material molding and twice/three-time molding. The disadvantages of these technologies lie in that they consume a lot of manpower and material resources, occupy production space, and it is difficult to guarantee the quality of recombination after cooling.
Since 2005, due to the emergence of labor, production capacity and mass customization, multi-color and multi-component technology has been vigorously developed in Taiwan. At that time, there were two well-known European manufacturers of injection molding machines in the world with outstanding strength in multi-component and multi-material injection molding technology, but their application field was also limited to the automotive industry, and they did not take multi-component injection molding technology as a key point to develop.
FCS has set the direction of special customized multi-component injection molding machines.As FCS actively explores and develops the technology, it has increased the tonnage of machines from 260 tons to more than 3,000 tons and introduced the modular concept. The clamping mechanism is taken as the core and the injection mechanism is available in the form of a package, which greatly shortens the delivery cycle time and puts forward strict requirements on the Company’s software and design capabilities.
In February 2018, FCS participated in the China Plastics Machinery Industry Association’s Group Standards Working Committee and served as the first company to draft Group Standards of “Multi-component Plastic Injection Molding Machine”. The Group Standards were officially released in the summer of 2020, which was an important milestone in the development of multi-component injection molding technology in China. It ended the chaos of standards by many manufacturers, formed unified standards and even standardized molds, reduced disorderly competition and waste of resources, and brought the development of multi-component injection technology to a new level.
Multi-component injection molding technology has gradually matured, and manufacturers of high-end products such as auto parts have fully accepted the corresponding cost input brought by the application of multi-component injection molding technology. Although temporarily it’s hard for some manufacturers of lower-end products to bear the cost, they will eventually embark on the road of replacing manpower with machines, which is just a matter of time.
In 2015, FCS began to cooperate with Colgate-Palmolive. Four years later, in 2019, the production capacity of more than 300 single-component injection molding machines applied by users before were replaced with the capacity of 22 two-component injection molding machines. The labor force was reduced from more than 6,000 in 2019 to more than 1,100 now. The effect of replacing manpower with machines is immediate and obvious. In addition, a foreign supplier who supplies IKEA, applied one production line of FCS to replace the previous six production lines, creating higher profits for customers with super high price–performance ratio. In the long run, multi-component and multi-material injection molding technology must be an important direction of the processing and development of the injection molding technology.Not just the concept of plastic will be developed in the future. When plastic and metal powder are injected and molded together, for example, the car lights of BMW electric cars are directly embedded in the bumper for integral molding, eliminating the subsequent installation steps. A type of FCS’s horizontal injection molding machines developed for this application were widely welcomed in the market and became benchmark machines in this field.
When the reporter mentioned the gap between FCS’s multi-component injection molding technology and the international advanced ones, Hsiao-Chou Chen believed that there is almost no gap.The core competitiveness of FCS lies in the ability to quickly adapt to the market and meet the needs of customers, for FCS can provide more models for users to choose and better meet the diversities of molds so that the expandable space is greater.These strengths are not achieved overnight. Instead, FCS has experienced long-term experience accumulation. Special technologies require more technical reserves, and FCS has been striving for them. For example, the integrated car light project, in fact, has been prepared for 10 years. In addition, the equipment developed by FCS now is also actively prepared for the market in the next 5 years or even 10 years. As Hsiao-Chou Chen said, the R&D expenses of FCS accounts for as much as 20% of the Company’s output value, which is unparalleled in the industry. The mission of FCS is: “To lead the development of China’s multi-component injection molding technology, constantly promote the application of multi-component injection molding technology, become the best alternative brand for imported machines and create higher benefits for customers.”
Hsiao-Chou Chen predicted that a major trend in the plastics industry in the future is that there will be more demand for large-scale personalized customization. If expecting to achieve rapid production, the industry needs multi-component injection molding production.It is an inevitable trend to input requirements for different colors and different materials in the front-end computer to change colors and appearance.
The state of full-load production of FCS has lasted for 5 years. In the future, the Company will change the multi-component injection molding technology from the rough type to the more refined and specialized one, and develop the products in the direction of “large-sized and electrified”, to lead the industry to standardization development.
He said that the FCS’s new production base in Hangzhou Bay is prepared for intelligent production of “large-sized and electrified” multi-component injection molding equipment, and has reserved a model factory that will apply 5G technology to organize modern production. On the road of pioneering multi-component injection molding technology, FCS has a promising future
Arburg to have a presence at AM trade fair in Shanghai
From 26 to 28 May, Arburg will be exhibiting at AM trade fair tct Asia 2021 in Shanghai, China. At stand G70 in hall 7.1, the company will showcase the great potential offered by its open system Arburg Plastic Freeforming (APF). Two Freeformers will produce functional parts live, including a two-component closure in a unique material combination of original PP and TPE. Visitors can also expect a wide range of parts, and will be able to test the quality of selected APF parts for themselves at interactive stations.
“The response at Chinaplas in April was very good and showed that everyone is happy that they can again find out about new products and highlights live and in person at trade fairs. Many new projects have also been initiated,” said Zhao Tong, Managing Director of the Arburg organisations in China. “We’re expecting the same from tct 2021 in Shanghai, the big AM event in China. Customers and interested parties will be able to benefit from our comprehensive expertise in plastics processing and meet our experts on site for detailed advice on the potential of our APF process.”
Freeformer 300-3X: resilient flip-top closure
“With two Freeformer exhibits, we will be presenting innovative and sophisticated applications,” explained Wei Yen Lim, APF expert from Arburg China. “Our large Freeformer 300-3X will produce a functional flip-top closure from semi-crystalline PP and elastic TPE at tct Asia 2021. This is a unique and challenging combination of materials in the AM industry.” Prototypes like this with film hinges can be opened and closed several thousand times and can therefore be subjected to full functional testing. The Freeformer 300-3X can process up to three components, thereby enabling the industrial additive manufacturing of complex functional parts in resilient hard/soft combinations with support structure.
Freeformer 200-3X: flame-retardant electronics housing
The second exhibit, a Freeformer 200-3X with two discharge units, will additively manufacture an electronics housing for Hongfa from flame-retardant materials PA6 and ABS. In addition, many part examples will be on display at the Arburg stand and visitors will be able to test the functionality and resilience of various demo parts for themselves at interactive stations.
Know-how in plastics processing
The plastic granules processed in injection moulding can also be used in Arburg Plastic Freeforming (APF). The open system is suitable as well for very soft and certified original materials, and is perfect for demanding applications, for example in medical technology and the automotive industry. The Freeformer is particularly interesting for users who want to produce and test individually customised parts or functional prototypes made from exactly the same material as in large-scale production of the end product. The real added value fully comes into its own when innovative applications, integrated functions, and completely new geometries and designs can be realised additively. In China, Arburg operates a Prototyping Center where Freeformers produce benchmark parts around the clock. This allows potential customers to check exactly which APF process is actually suitable for their desired component, material, or application before considering a purchase.
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