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By: Tony Deligio 14. November 2016

The only thing more overwhelming than the amount of information available today is the myriad means to have it delivered to you.


How do you consume media content; what types of content do you seek out; how do you use information to make important decisions in your business? Gardner Business Intelligence, the research arm of Plastics Technology publisher Gardner Business Media is once again offering its Media in Manufacturing survey.


Please take a few minutes to complete the brief survey and exert your influence over media in manufacturing. Once the completed surveys are tabulated, you’ll be among the first to see how your media opinions and practices compare to others in industry. Your responses will be combined with others and shared in aggregate only, and your contact information will be used only to send results to you. Please take a few minutes now to provide your input.


Check out results from the 2015 survey here and see its key findings on buying cycles, social media, search, mobile and more.


Tampoprint Shined at K 2016

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 11. November 2016

With its 60 years of experience in machine engineering, Tampoprint belongs among the innovators of the pad-printing industry, according to founder and chairman Wilfried Philipp.


The company went to K 2016 to introduce four new concepts for the pad-printing process, which is projected to increase in demand 4-5%/yr in the coming years.


Said to be the first of its kind is the patent-pending Continuous Circular rotation pad-printing system. This new machine enables the continuous decoration of cylindrical parts, making the printing process significantly more efficient and productive. According to Tampoprint, it is well suited for a range of applications from cosmetic packaging to writing utensils to technical mass-produced articles. Better quality and high precision are claimed and multicolored printing is possible. The unit’s output is up to 15,000 parts/hr.



Another new machine concept launched and demonstrated by the company was Module One, a semi-automated modular design developed for small and medium batch sizes. The central element of Module One is formed on a base frame, which can be assembled flexibly. Module One has eight stations and can be outfitted with up to three machine satellites. Pad printing units are selected from the company’s Series Hermetic and Sealed Ink Cup E. The remaining positions can be independently outfitted; for instance, with intermediate drying, infrared drying and part recognition.



With a maximum three-color print image and a maximum diameter of 125 mm, this system is suitable for a range of applications including toys, electronic housings, and household appliances. Construction and installation are reduced through standardization of all assemblies and ancillary options, according to the company. Significantly shortened setup times are claimed.


The company also showed the new variLEX 8130T pre-press laser system for graphics. It was developed by Tampoprint’s technology partner SPGPrints of Austria, a leading supplier of digital imaging technologies. This system is developed for direct engraving/ imaging black pad-printing plates—essentially replacing the conventional photopolymer plates. In combination with the black pad-printing plates, this system reportedly allows an optimal workflow which eliminates the use of any film-making (the photopolymer plate process), exposing, washing or drying.



The variLEX 8130T is also said to reduce tolerances and possible errors, which increasing quality. This system is capable of engraving high-quality line-counts, making it suitable for all pad-printing applications. SPGPrints says, it developed its laser system to image the needed relief-depth in one shot, resulting in smooth slopes, which in turn ensures an optimal ink release. Engraving time for three plates (100 x 220 mm) is 10 minutes with an engraving depth of 25-45 µm, both depending on imaging parameters and design, with up to 5080 dpi resolution claimed.


Finally, designed to work hand-in-hand with the cliché laser veriLEX 8130T, Tampoprint showcased the new “Do-It-Yourself” Intaglio laser cliché, said to deliver unrivaled pad printing results. The user creates the Intaglio laser cliché, fast and operator free, with the veriLEX 8130T. The user fastens the cliché on the magnetic drum, loads the print image on the PC and engraves. Here’s how it works: point by point the smallest cells are engraved in the Intaglio laser cliché. Each of them very precise, with different depths and widths. The pad printing ink can be precisely printed in different shades. Up to 30,000 prints in a contour sharpness can be achieved.

Novel On-Line Rheometer; In-Line Molding Specimen Device

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 10. November 2016

Two major suppliers of extrusion and/or in-line process testing/monitoring equipment showcased novel systems at K 2016.


• Brabender has its new SpeciMold injection molding specimen device designed for in-line continuous extrusion processing. It takes a stream of material and injects it into the mold to make nearly all of the physical testing bars, including, tensile, impact, HDT/Vicat, flexural, and spiral flow. It is also well suited to molding color masterbatch samples to make sure the colorant disperses well and for ensuring the color match is correct for the intended customer.



A key advantage is that this device provides first-pass information in thermal history and process efficiency. Moreover, in addition to Brabender extruders, it can be used with other extruder brands smaller than 30 mm. It features its own control panel, which monitors temperature and pressure.


• Dynisco has expanded its online rheometry portfolio with the launch of a novel, simplified and lower price-point rheology device—the new ViscoIndicator online rheometer. It is specifically designed for the thermoplastics compounding and processing industry. It provides continuous measurements of the melt flow rate, apparent viscosity, or intrinsic viscosity directly on an extruder.



The unit sells for about $32,000 vs. larger units which range from $71,000-$108,000. The main differentiation between this compact unit and its larger counterparts is that it only provides an indication of whether the process is going off specification. It includes a control box that's mounted on the outside of the extruder and a sensor, which is about the size of a shoebox.


The ViscoIndicator’s single plug-in-power connection and ability to screw into an existing 1/2-20 process connection reportedly allows users to be up and running in no time without modifications to an extrusion line. This, in combination with its simple-to-use Windows 10 IOT HMI is said to minimize the learning curve.

Now That’s “Collaborative”!

By: Matthew H. Naitove 8. November 2016

Pick-and-place product handling … simple assembly tasks … sure, or why not serving a cold beer?


So-called “collaborative” robots, or “cobots,” are gaining interest and adherents among plastics molders, who welcome the idea of robots working safely side by side with humans, unrestricted by “hard” guarding.


They also entertained and refreshed visitors to October’s K 2016 show in Dusseldorf. Among several examples at the show, Universal Robots USA, Inc. (E. Setauket, N.Y.) put one of its six-axis cobots to work at the Boy Machines Inc. exhibit, handing out freshly molded drink cups digitally printed with the recipient’s name and, on request, filled with beer. Direct transfer of the cup from the robot’s gripper to a visitor’s hand was a vivid illustration of safe collaboration.



Among new cobots on display was the two-armed, tabletop assembly model, dubbed YuMi (pictured), which is the first cobot from ABB Automation (ABB Inc. Robotics Auburn Hills, Mich.). Fanuc Automation (FANUC America Corp., Rochester Hills, Mich.) also showed off one of its new “CR” six-axis robots. The accompanying photo shows how human contact safety interrupts its operation.



And In addition, Kuka Robotics Corporation (Shelby Township, Mich.) showed off its seven-axis cobots, designated LBR (lightweight robot) IIWA (Intelligent Industrial Work Assistant), first seen at Fakuma 2015.


In addition, suppliers showed how to make conventional robots more “collaborative”—focusing on allowing technicians access to robots without shutting them down altogether. Both Sytrama USA, sister company of Negri Bossi North America (New Castle, Del.), and Staubli Robotics (Staubli Corporation, Duncan, S.C.) demonstrated robots that use compact laser scanners to sense the presence of humans.


When a technician approaches within a certain distance, the robot continues its cycle, but at a much reduced speed, which Staubli calls Safe Limited Speed (SLS). Coming even closer can cause the robot to slow further and finally stop completely (Safe Operating Stop, or SOS). It starts up again instantly when the person moves away a certain distance. Staubli’s new generation of TX2 six-axis robots (pictured) use the same principle to define a Safe Zone around the end-of-arm tooling to prevent collisions with inanimate obstacles. These models also have a sensory skin, which when touched immediately brings the robot to a halt.



Sources at both Sytrama and Staubli agree that even with the laser scanner, some sort of physical barrier is still necessary to prevent accidental encroachments from hindering robot operations, but full-height guarding may no longer be needed with this safety feature. One maker of the laser scanners is Sick AG in Germany (U.S. office in Minneapolis). It is the yellow object at the bottom of the photo with the Staubli robot.


All Work & No Play at the K

By: Matthew H. Naitove 7. November 2016

I had sore feet at the end of every day—all eight of them—at the K 2016 show. But there were chances to relax at numerous hospitality events.


One of them, which I gather is a K Show tradition, is the Viking-themed after-show booth party thrown by Rapid of Sweden (parent of Rapid Granulator, Inc. in Cranberry Township, Pa.). Horned helmets, shots of akvavit, and little fishy snacks topped off a day of booth-hopping interspersed with innumerable press conferences. (Pictured, left to right: Jackie Dalzell, district sales manager, Plastics Technology and Moldmaking Technology; Rick Kline Jr., group publisher Plastics Technology; Ryan Delahanty, publisher Moldmaking Technology and Composites World; and Heather Caliendo, senior editor, Plastics Technology and Composites World). 


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