Dimensional Stability of Subtractive Manufacturing With the Design Freedom of Additive

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 7. October 2016


IKV to demonstrate additive manufacturing of materials in granular form, including highly filled thermoplastics.


Using a hybrid production strategy, the Institute of Plastics Processing (IKV) will demonstrate the potential automation of additive manufacturing at K 2016 utilizing a screw-based extruder for the application of small melt volumes.


Doing so not only makes it possible to process standard materials in granule form, but the high pressure in the antechamber of the die also makes the processing of highly-filled thermoplastics via additive manufacturing possible for the first time, according to the IKV.


As a result, mechanical properties can be enhanced while minimizing the shrinkage potential and resultant warpage. Here’s more on what show visitors can expect to see:


In a production cell, IKV researchers will show the automatic sequential production of different demonstrator parts without manual intervention. The various processes used to achieve this are networked digitally and physically into one unit. The CAD data are generated via its own pre-processing system.


The hybrid system reportedly combines the advantages of the respective manufacturing processes, such as the good dimensional stability of subtractive processing (CNC machining) and the high-design freedom of additive manufacturing.


The order-oriented individual production of “batch size 1” parts can also be implemented. For this, an innovative process is used in which a sequential change is made between the individual product processes.


This bypasses all the current issues and disadvantages associated with additive manufacturing, including dimensional stability, tolerated surfaces, integration of inserts, and multi-material aspects, according to the IKV. At the same time, the freedom of additive manufacturing— such as shaping with complex undercuts—is not cancelled out by the restrictions of other production processes.


To implement the coupling technology, the IKV team uses a drive unit with an automatic mold-changing system. Via a standardized coupling, different molds can be deployed flexibly and use the kinematic power of the drive unit. Possible molds include screw-type extruders, conventional Fused Layer Modelling (FLM) extruders, milling adapters and grippers. Via additional coupling elements, melt and fluid throughputs as well as electrical signals can be transmitted, and the energy supply of the respective tools can be ensured, reported IKV.


New Pilot Program Aims to Jump Start Automotive PP, TPO Recycling

By: Heather Caliendo 6. October 2016

The goal of the ELV Recycling Demonstration Project is to develop collection and recovery methods for PP and TPO that are technically and economically feasible.


A new project is looking to provide a boost to automotive recycling. Partnering on the Automotive End-of-Life Vehicles (ELV) Recycling Demonstration Project  are the Society of Plastics Industry (SPI), Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA), Automotive Recyclers of Canada (ARC), Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA) and a number of independent plastics and automotive recyclers. The project’s goal is to develop collection and recovery methods for polypropylene (PP) and thermoplastic olefin (TPO) auto parts in a way that demonstrates technical and economic feasibility.


Approximately 12-15 million vehicles are scrapped each year in the U.S. The average lifespan of a vehicle is estimated to be about 11.5 years, and increasingly those vehicles feature ever greater amounts of plastics. Recovery of plastic components before shredding is largely driven by the resale market, but some recovery for mechanical recycling is also occurring.


“We want to make sure that our members see the business benefit of recycling automotive plastics,” says Kim Holmes, senior director of recycling and diversion at SPI. “The way to get real buy-in is to have concrete data that build the business case for these recovery models.”


Another goal of the ELV Recycling Demonstration Project is to gather information to better guide design for recycling opportunities that can help inform future automotive design and recovery of plastics. “The automotive supply chain truly sees this as an opportunity to affect change on a number of levels, bringing meaningful change to the front and end of life,” says Kendra Martin, senior director of industry affairs at SPI.


Once gathered and analyzed, the project data and best management practices will be shared broadly with the automotive and plastic recycling industries. The goal is to predict trends in demand for recycled materials so recyclers can invest in processing capacity with greater confidence.


“As plastics continue to be a material of choice for vehicles due to their weight differences and other energy-efficient benefits, we are thrilled to play a leading role with SPI in the program and will continue to explore the benefits of recycling plastic automotive parts,” says Michael Wilson, CEO of the Automotive Recyclers Association.


U.S. Molders Warming Up to All-Electric Blow Molding

By: Matthew H. Naitove 5. October 2016

When I set out to research a feature on “What Molders Think About All-Electric Blow Molding Machines,” I thought it would be no big deal to get interviews with a handful of shops.


I’d target, say, one customer apiece from Bekum America, Kautex Machines, and Milacron, which have been the major proponents of the technology in North America. After all, Plastics Technology magazine has been reporting steadily on new generations of all-electric shuttles and injection-blow presses since at least the K 2001 show in Germany.


All three of those vendors (and probably more from Europe) are slated to bring out new all-electrics at the K 2016 show next month (see our September show preview). One of those new machines is Milacron’s M-Series (pictured), described in detail here.


Imagine my surprise, then, when I was given the name of exactly one U.S. molder to contact for this article, plus one in the U.K. and one in South Africa. It turns out that after 15 years on the market, all-electric shuttles and injection-blow presses amount to barely more than a half-dozen machines installed in North America.


The situation is very different in Europe, where all-electrics account for 80% of the shuttles Milacron sells. Bekum is selling a smaller but still significant fraction of its shuttle machines in all-electric versions, and Kautex has sells smaller shuttle models only in all-electric form. Milacron sources say they also have customers in Asia and South Africa that buy only electric machines.


While European bottle molders have jumped at the chance to cut their high electric utility bills, their U.S. counterparts are a more conservative lot and most of whom don’t pay as much for electricity. Even more, a lot of them have had plenty of available machine capacity and had resisted making major capital investments—at least until recently.


There are signs the tide may be turning. The number of all-electric machines on order now by U.S. customers appears roughly equal to the number installed—including the first electric injection-blow unit from Milacron. Kautex expects to see some bigger customers get into the act next year with 10 machine orders. Bekum is putting its hopes on its first electric shuttle equipped with U.S. components such as servo motors, actuators, and controls.


Blow molders looking for new machines should take careful note of the comments on all-electrics by the one U.S. bottle maker interviewed for my November story—and of the corroborating testimony from the South African molder. (The British molder did not respond to a request for an interview.) These molders know hydraulic presses well—and they’re sticking with all-electrics for the future.


Bicycle Saddle Can Be Locally Reinforced From One Shot to the Next

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 4. October 2016

At K 2016, IKV to demonstrate production of a sports bicycle saddle molded from LGF-PP foams bolstered by UD laminates, with visitors able to personalize parts.


Once again, exciting developments can be expected as at every K show from the Institute of Plastics Processing (IKV) and the Skilled Crafts at RWTH Aachen University. With the aid of two production cells, IKV’s main research topics; namely, lightweight construction, additive manufacturing, Industry 4.0 and integrative plastics technology will be demonstrated live at Hall 14/C16.


With its 13 partners from different areas of the industry, IKV will demonstrate the implementation of Industry 4.0 in plastics processing via production cells customized for the production of foamed, continuous fiber-reinforced plastic hybrid parts. The entire production is networked in line with the principle of Industry 4.0 and reportedly allows continuous documentation from the input of the original order, via the production data to the subsequent quality assurance, which can be viewed by the respective customer.


A sports bicycle saddle which can be locally reinforced from one shot to the next, depending on the customer’s specs, is the demonstrator part in this project. The saddle is a molded long glass fiber reinforced polypropylene (LGF-PP) foam that can be optionally supplemented by unidirectional (UD) laminates on the top and underneath. The ProFoam technology used in this foam injection molding process is said to allow for gentle, stress-free processing of the LGF-PP. This reportedly makes it possible to attain large residual fiber lengths in the part.


In addition, it will be shown with the aid of the demonstrator how thermoplastic continuous fiber-reinforced laminates can be fully integrated automatically into the reproducible injection molding process. IKV says its approach allows the weight-specific mechanical properties of FRP materials to be combined with the automation potential of the injection molding process. As such, the economical use of the individually acting reinforcing inserts in injection molding will be demonstrated for the first time.


IKV is inviting visitors to actively control the production process and select a personalized part from the variants, and then have it made. The production parameters of shot volume, part thickness and type of fiber reinforcement can be varied from one shot to the next.


The project partners are: Arburg, ASS, Georg Kaufmann Formenbau, gwk, Hasco, HRS flow, IOS, Kistler, Krelus, Motan, SABIC, Sensopart and Staubli.


Design With Molding In Mind

3. October 2016

Everything that’s molded has obviously been designed, but not everything that’s designed can be molded.


From Oct. 11-13 at injection molding machine maker Arburg’s Technical Center Midwest (2585 Millennium Dr., Elgin, Ill.), scientific molding expert and Plastics Technology columnist will offer his Design for Moldability course, starting at 8:30 on Tuesday the 11th.


Described as a basic-to-intermediate course, the three-day seminar aims to give attendees:


“A basic understanding of plastics with respect to part design, piece-part design requirements and rules for the injection molding process. Emphasis will be on plastics and part design in conjunction with an overview of tooling and processing. 


The “foundation” of the course has been developed and honed by more than 50 years of production tested designs by fellow plastics experts Glenn Beall and John Klees, according to Bozzelli. Specifically a sample block will be provided to all students that will help them better understand more than 35 design, processing and tooling issues, including:


  • Fill pattern
  • Non-uniform walls
  • Shrink
  • Sinks
  • Ribs
  • Gussets
  • Warp
  • Venting


Bozzelli says anyone interested in producing a successful plastic part that meets quality, production and performance criteria at an internationally competitive price is encouraged to attend, including design engineers, project engineers/managers, flow simulation analysts, and product development engineers or managers.


Register today, enrollment is limited.


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