Switch to Centralized Vacuum Supply Saves Molder Energy, Boosts Production
Choosing the right vacuum supply can lead to huge productivity gains in plastics processing. Take the case of custom molder Mar-Bal Inc., which two years ago went through a critical review of its existing vacuum supply for injection molding when moving to a new plant. The end result was a collaboration with Busch LLC, Virginia Beach, Va., that has yielded savings in energy and maintenance, as well as increases in production.
Mar-Bal was founded in 1970 by Jim Balogh and is now run by Balogh’s sons, Scott and Steven. Headquartered in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, the molder sells proprietary products as well as a range of custom molded parts for electrical distribution and control devices, plus a gamut of components for appliances. It runs a 24:5 operation in Ohio, employing more than 130. Mar-Bal also has molding plants in Virginia and Missouri, and just recently opened a facility in Shanghai, China. Mar-Bal’s molding is supported by a state-of-the-art laboratory in Ohio where a material engineering team compounds materials to customer specifications.
Replacing the local vacuum pumps at each molding machine with the new central system has reduced energy consumption by a whopping 75%
In the early years, Mar-Bal facilities had 30 individual oil-lubricated, rotary-vane vacuum pumps installed directly at the injection molding machines, which delivered the vacuum necessary for evacuating the mold cavity. Each pump required regular service, and Mar-Bal had to shut down presses whenever the pumps needed tending. But when Mar-Bal moved to a new Ohio facility in 2016, it huddled with vacuum specialists from Busch and developed a new concept to find a more efficient solution to supply vacuum to its presses. The team quickly agreed that a centralized vacuum supply would eliminate the disadvantages of the previous setup.
The new central vacuum system has been in operation since March 2017. Its main components are two Busch R 5 rotary-vane vacuum pumps located in a room outside the production floor.
The two pumps deliver vacuum to 23 injection machines, with capacity to serve up to 10 more presses. There are buffer tanks between the central vacuum system and the molding machines to ensure the required vacuum level is constantly available.
Vince Profeta, Mar-Bal’s v.p. of product engineering and manufacturing technologies, says the new system is far superior to the previous vacuum supply when it comes to the level of maintenance and susceptibility to failures. What’s more, replacing the local vacuum pumps at each molding machine with the new central system has reduced energy consumption by a whopping 75%. According to Profeta, Mar-Bal has also seen an increase in quality since the system was installed.
Flashing of a part can occur for several reasons—from variations in the process or material to tooling trouble.
Start by assessing the status quo, as well as defining future needs. Develop a five-year projection of materials and required capacities. Short-term solutions very often prove to be more expensive and less satisfactory after a period of time. Most of all, know your options.
Take the time to do the viscosity curve on new molds. You will learn more in that hour than many learn in years about the process for this tool.