A 65-strong delegation from moulding companies in Britain were wowed by a range of new and more efficient plastic parts manufacturing technologies from ARBURG last week.
The group were part of more than 5,900 guests from 49 countries who attended the Arburg Technology Days 2015 event from March 11 to 14 2015 in Lossburg, Germany.
One of the largest vendor events of its kind in the world, the show focused on production-efficient processing technology, from one-off parts to high volume production, from a range of plastic forming technology, from the new Freeformer for additive manufacturing to the wide product range of Allrounder injection moulding machines.
A purpose-made Efficiency Arena had demonstrations of Industry 4.0 machine-to-machine communications and production efficiencies. Visitors could also attend expert presentations, inspect a special machine service area and take tours of the plant.
There was a strong emphasis on the customization of parts to individuals, aka “mass personalisation”, and a focus on micro components and energy efficiency, at the Lossburg expo.
“This was one of the best Technology Days we have attended to date,” said Colin Tirel, managing director of Arburg Ltd in Warwick. “The depth and diversity of the UK-based companies we accompanied was very impressive and perfectly illustrated our capability as a supplier to meet the demanding and polarised requirements of our industry in terms of processing technology.
Five Freeformer machines presented progress in the development of Arburg Plastic Freeforming (AKF), showing new possibilities for product design and mould technology, as well as the individualisation of high volume items.
One Freeformer demonstrated how new functional samples of scissor handles could be produced in the shortest time and how the parts could be optimally designed for additive manufacturing. Another system produced a scissor holder in an additive manufacturing process, as an alternative to conventional fixture construction.
Visitors also witnessed the combination of injection moulding and additive manufacturing, making use of Industry 4.0 technologies to link the Allrounder and Freeformer machines.
Micro-moulding and lightweight focus
A special micro production cell built around an electric Allrounder 270A was demonstrated with the new Euromap size 5 micro-injection unit.
Together with a linear Multilift H 3+1 robotic system, this formed a flexible system solution for the high rate production of micro components, in this case micro counter wheels weighing just 0.004 grams. The new micro-injection unit combines the precise regulation of short strokes with high filling dynamics.
Arburg has collaborated with the Institute for Plastics Processing (IKV) in Aachen on research and development of the Profoam process and presented the latest results at the expo.
In this process, the plastic granulate is mixed with liquid propellant upstream of the injection unit. An electric Allrounder 820 A was used to demonstrate how this method could be used to produce strong, lightweight, low-distortion parts with a homogeneous foam structure based on the example of a physically foamed airbag housing made from fibre-reinforced PP.
“We were highly impressed by the Arburg facility and the people,” said David Haswell, general manager of Thredgards, a visiting company. “The fact so much is manufactured on site and not reliant on a larger supply chain gives us great confidence in not just the Arburg product but also the support network which is so vital in our industry.
Packaging, medical applications
Thin-walled items, screw caps, flip-top and multi-component closures were examples of the products on view in the packaging area. A hybrid Allrounder 570H ‘adapted for packaging’ demonstrated the cost-efficient production of tin-walled tubs.
For medical applications, one of three exhibits was a stainless steel version of an electric Allrounder 370 A, was used in a class 7 clean room to produce ampoule holders on a four-cavity mould. Particle contamination in the production environment was also measured and analysed as part of the exhibit. Other specialist applications are detailed in the main release.
“It has been 16-years since my last visit and I was very impressed with the new range of machines on offer as well as the new processes developed over this time,” said Mike Stone, General Manager of Allthread Plastics who visited the expo with Managing Director Colin Pryor. “The technology has come a long way in those years and I can see that Arburg is going to carry on investing in the future of our industry. A very worthwhile visit.”
Around 2,600 visitors attended the technical presentations, delivered in German and English. Subjects covered were unit cost reduction, Arburg Plastic Freeforming (AKF), foam injection moulding, turnkey systems and a success story telling how one company managed to achieve technical change with Arburg as a strategic partner.
Approximately 45 per cent of visitors travelled from abroad. The largest groups came from Europe: Switzerland with around 280, France with around 210 and the Czech Republic with around 160.
“Once again this year we have put together a very interesting range of technologies and services for our international guests, presenting our innovative and production-efficient solutions and offering an insight into the future of efficient plastic parts production,” said Michael Hehl, Managing Partner and spokesperson for the Arburg Management Team.
Steven Taylor of subcontract engineers Hilcrest Design, summarized: “Innovative, Efficient, Reassuring. I am convinced it was the correct decision for Hilcrest to go visit Arburg’s Technology Days.”
Arburg Ltd will launch the new Freeformer to the UK and Ireland markets in early autumn 2015.
Joint CEO of ARBURG Helmut Heinson spoke at the ‘Meet the Mittelstand’ conference held at JCB Visitor Centre in January 2014.