Injection Molding: Economical Electric Press, In-Mold Coating, LSR Process Control, and More Fakuma News

New size of economical electric press, in-mold PUR coating of automotive exterior components, new developments for medical and LSR molding.

Among the new developments to be presented next month at the Fakuma 2017 show in Germany will be a new size of all-electric press from Engel Austria (U.S. office in York, Pa.). The e-mac 280 is a 280-metric-ton expansion of the economically priced, general-purpose e-mac line, which previously topped off at 180 m.t. Engel says this series is well suited to technical parts and electronic components—two areas in which the trend is toward larger molds with higher cavitation. Engel will be running this press (pictured) with a four-cavity mold for 40-pole connector housings of glass-filled PBT. It will demonstrate three software packages for real-time process control: iQ weight control (introduced in 2012), which maintains constant shot size and compensates for changes in the material or environmental conditions; iQ clamp control (2015), which continuously adjusts clamp force to save energy and protect mold life, while minimizing flash; and the new iQ flow control (2016), which regulates mold temperature-control units according to the needs of the process.

For automotive, Engel will present the first applications for exterior components using in-mold coating with clear liquid PUR. Up to now, these high-gloss, scratch-proof coatings have been aimed at interior decorative elements and electronic functional components. Engel’s clearmelt process first molds the thermoplastic substrate and then coats it in a second cavity. The process can easily be combined with IML to avoid any post-mold finishing or decorating. The integrated two-component PUR mixing/dispensing system comes from Hennecke in Germany (U.S. office in Lawrence, Pa.).

For the medical market, Engel has further refined its stainless-steel pipe distributor (introduced two years ago) for cavity separation of small parts from multi-cavity molds. It now fits completely into the expanded safety gate of the injection machine (photo). It will be shown on an Engel e-victory 80-m.t. electric tiebarless machine, molding PS needle holders for 1-ml safety syringes in a 16-cavity mold. The parts will be extracted by an Engel viper 12 linear robot and transferred to the distribution system, with 16 bags hung in a cart directly beneath the pipe distributor. Individual shots can be extracted for QC purposes. For unmanned cleanroom operation overnight, two carts can be alternated in sequence, with a buffering system to enable the fully automated switchover—handled by the CC300 machine control. Thanks to shared data storage, the CC300 can precisely coordinate the movements of the press and robot. And to provide flexibility, the pipe distributor and bag-packing cart are supplied as a single unit that can be moved from machine to machine.

For LSR, Engel will demonstrate real-time shot-size control with its iQ weight control software on a tiebarless victory press running LSR in a 16-cavity mold. This will also be the first presentation at a show of a victory machine with a next-generation injection unit. Last fall, Engel reorganized the sizes of its hydraulic injection units and upgraded the performance specs for injection speed and pressure and plasticating capacity (see January’s K show report).