This year marks many important developments in injection moulding process, owing to the innovations introduced by machine manufacturers. In this sector, ARBURG (www.arburg.com) has introduced several additions to its portfolio of injectin moulding systems and these were presented at K 2022 in Germany. Arburg has adopted a clear message for its trade fair appearance: "There is only a Plan A" where it underscored the need to protect the environment. Its presence through the ArburgGREENworld pavilion in the VDMA Circular Economy Forum highlighted Arburg’s pioneering role in resource conservation combined with extensive digitalisation.
Michael Hehl, Managing Partner and Spokesperson for the Management Team at Arburg, explained that the core message of "There is only a Plan A!" represents how Arburg is breathing life into it in all areas. “Firstly, there is only a Plan A and there is no Planet B. We only have one world, and we all have to take responsibility for it! There's no alternative. Secondly, ‘Plan A’ conveys that – as already mentioned – we, as a machine manufacturer, are making our contribution with regard to the important global issues surrounding resource conservation, the circular economy and carbon reduction and that we are identifying solutions,” according to Mr. Hehl.
3-component Allrounder Cube
A particularly innovative application in terms of cube-mould technology was demonstrated by Arburg where an automated three-component Allrounder Cube 1800 produced a functional component from PP, TPE and POM using an 8+8+8-cavity cube mould from partner Foboha. The finished moulded part is produced directly in the mould thanks to assembly injection moulding. Mould filling, cooling, part removal by a six-axis robot and other assembly steps including capping in the gripper take place synchronously.
The compact Allrounder Cube 1800 three-component cube machine with a clamping force of 1,800 kN is particularly well suited to smaller cavity numbers. The exhibit works with three injection units in sizes 70, 170 and 70. At its heart is a compact cube from partner company Foboha, which is easily accessible from above. The 8+8+8-cavity tool with two index platens on each side of the cube features the new CITI technology. CITI stands for “Cube with Integrated Turning Inserts”, an index technology patented by Foboha.
The compact Allrounder Cube 1800 3-component cube machine with a clamping force of 1,800 kN
Eight functional components can each be produced with the 8+8+8 cavity cube mould in a cycle time of around 9.5 seconds. First, a frame made of PP is injected on the moving nozzle side. The cube rotates 90 degrees, then the pre-moulded parts are turned 180 degrees by the CITI technology and, after another 90-degree cube rotation, a TPE seal is applied on both sides and a functional element made of POM is moulded on.
A six-axis robot integrated in the control system removes all eight parts from the mould at the same time. Final assembly takes place directly in a gripper from Arburg's partner Kiki in a five-step process that takes just four seconds, with no effect on the cycle time. The ready-to-use products are finally deposited on a conveyor belt.
Depending on the circumstances, one Allrounder Cube can replace several conventional injection moulding machines and reduce the overall footprint by up to 75%. Innovative cube-mould technology significantly reduces cycle time. In addition to efficient high-volume production in the packaging and medical technology industries, compact cube machines such as the Allrounder Cube 1800 are also increasingly being used for the production of technical parts and smaller quantities.
Aside from the Allrounder Cube, other injection moulding systemss from Arburg were also featured. No less than three exhibits were equipped with the Arburg recyclate package: an electric Allrounder 470 A produced PP handles from post-consumer recyclate (PCR), while a hydraulic Allrounder 270 S compact used glass-fibre-reinforced PPS recyclate to make tweezers. Arburg also presented secure 5G mobile connectivity – a pilot project by Arburg and Telekom. Another networked, compact turnkey system is based on an Allrounder 375 V with a six-axis robot and Arburg Turnkey Control Module (ATCM) and produced a bicycle tool from recycled PA66/6 (GF50).
Mr. Gerhard Böhm, Managing Director Sales, Arburg
A further "smart" exhibit was a hybrid packaging Allrounder 630 H in a cleanroom design that produces around 18,000 transparent PET blood tubes per hour: the injection moulding machine communicates with the mould, hot runner controller, material dryer and automation via the Gestica control system and OPC UA. The "Moldlife Sense" computer system is integrated into the 32x tool provided by Arburg’s partner Hack and enables monitoring across the complete life cycle.
With an electric Allrounder 720 A, Arburg presented an alternative to deepdrawing. Its new size 1300 injection unit enables high injection volume flows thanks to precise AMKmotion servo motors. The machine demonstrated the manufacture of thin-walled, round IML cups.
An Allrounder More 1600 manufactured Luer lock connectors for medical technology. The application was the first to show handling with a Yaskawa robot, which can be directly programmed via the Gestica control system.
Sustainability thanks to digitalisation
The ArburgGREENworld pavilion was all about concrete sustainability measures in production and products: in other words, about what Arburg does within its own company to conserve resources and what its products do for customers. "Greenline" plugs from Fischer, one of the market leaders for fastening systems, was produced on an electric Allrounder 370 A with recyclate package and Multilift robotic system. The give-away is a prime example of a successful circular economy in the field of post industrial recyclate (PIR). The sprue is deposited directly in a mill. It is then returned straight back into the process as regrind and reused.
Market outlook and directions
At the Arburg media event during K 2022, trends in key markets were also discussed with Gerhard Böhm, Managing Director Sales at Arburg mentioning some of the market challenges: “Germany has handled the situation as expected, i.e. by adopting a cautious approach and reducing investments to core projects, an approach that Europe has followed. America has really shown staying power so far. However, with inflation and money market developments having arrived, we are seeing the first signs of braking there as well. Asia is still at a satisfactory level for us – in terms of the annual planning. However, we expect a possible decline in demand there as well.”
In terms of industries relying on plastics, the automotive industry has seen significant improvement in the area of new e-drives, according to Mr. Böhm. Medical technology, an important market to Arburg, has currently reached or somewhat passed its peak and with the COVID wave being over, the sector is developing again as usual. Arburg is also getting a good number of enquiries from the electrical and electronics sector as well as from the packaging industry. Nevertheless, the requested volume is no longer at the level it was in 2021, for example. “But in general, we can say that the consumption development in the short and medium terms will intensely influence the coming months,” Mr. Böhm explains. In his speech, Mr. Böhm also mentioned that across all markets and industries, there are three global issues that seem to affect everyone: sustainability, digitalisation and resilience.
- This article also appears in International Plastics News for Asia - December issue. To read the full issue, click here.
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