Injection Molding | 1 MINUTE READ

Automated Mold-Insert Changing Via Robot for Short Runs

At Fakuma 2018 show in Germany, Engel Austria (U.S. office in York, Pa.) is presenting three premieres in one exhibit. 


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At this month’s Fakuma 2018 show in Germany, Engel Austria (U.S. office in York, Pa.) is presenting three premieres in one exhibit: a larger all-electric tiebarless machine; a fully automated system for very fast switching of mold inserts for small-lot production; and expanded functionality of its e-flomo electronic temperature-control water manifold.

Lot sizes of less than 1000 parts present a challenge in injection molding, which is often addressed using molds with interchangeable inserts. At Fakuma, Engel will produce two components of a product with different geometries and shot weights using a system patented by German moldmaker Braunform that can switch inserts within mold bases on both halves of the mold in just 1 min part-to-part. After only three shots, the injection machine alerts the integrated Engel easix articulated robot that  the lot has been fulfilled and unlocks the mold inserts. The six-axis robot first removes the last molded part, then changes grippers and switches the mold inserts. Communication between the injection machine and robot is conducted via authentig MES software from Engel subsidiary TIG. The software provides the setup programs for the current part to both the machine and the robot.

In order to produce a usable part on the first shot after changing mold inserts, the injection machine continuously optimizes itself with the help of three intelligent software systems from Engel’s inject 4.0 program. While iQ weight control readjusts the melt volume for each shot, iQ clamp control calculates the optimal clamp force and sets it automatically; and iQ flow control automatically compensates for temperature differences in the cooling-water manifold circuit based on measurements by the e-flomo unit and adjusts the pump speed in the e-temp variable-speed TCU. A new feature of the e-flomo is automated sequential blow-out of the water-manifold circuits in the mold. This ensures that water and possible dirt left in the cooling channels is completely removed before changing the mold insert. As compared with conventional manual blow-out, Engel says this new automated function saves time and does a more thorough job.

The demonstration cell is extremely compact, with all components arranged around the robot in a star shape. One robot is responsible for handling the parts and inserts, laser marking, assembly, and removal of finished components from the cell.

The cell is based on Engel’s new e-motion 120 TL, the largest size (120 metric tons) in this all-electric, tiebarless series (previously 30 to 80 m.t.).