Heating/Cooling: Energy-Saving Mold-Temperature Control Comes to NPE
Electronic flow control is paired with a variable-speed TCU pump to achieve optimum cooling with the minimum energy required.
NPE2018 will see the North American launch of the newest module of iQ intelligent control software from Engel Machinery Inc., York, Pa. (booth W3303). “Most rejects in injection molding are the result of temperature-control errors,” says Joachim Kragl, director of Advanced Molding Systems and Processing. “This explains why processors’ focus is increasingly shifting to mold-temperature control.” It also explains the development of Engel’s iQ flow control, which is integrated into its CC300 machine control and communicates with other intelligent peripherals in a machine cell.
Engel began this development at K 2010 with its flomo electronic temperature-controlled water-manifold system, which replaces older maintenance-intensive water distributors and can monitor and document each individual cooling circuit. Partial or complete blockages due to water-borne debris or scale buildup no longer go undetected. Then at NPE2015, Engel launched e-flomo, which added the ability to actively control either the flow rates or in/out temperature difference (ΔT) in all individual cooling circuits. The advantage of ΔT control is that it automatically sets the required flow rate for each circuit to produce the desired ΔT.
K 2016 saw the next step with the introduction of iQ flow control. This software networks the temperature-control units (TCUs) and the injection machine to create a single unit that, based on the measured values determined by e-flomo, controls the pump speed in the TCU to provide the required flow. While e-flomo increases process stability and reduces rejects, automatic pump-speed adjustment with iQ flow control ensures that the pump works no harder than necessary and thus minimizes energy usage for mold-temperature control. Since the pump operates on demand, rather than at maximum output all the time, wear and tear is reduced and pump maintenance is reduced.
A key element of this system is a TCU with variable-speed pump developed by HB-Therm of Switzerland in collaboration with Engel, which sells this unit under the name Engel e-temp. It is networked with the injection machine via the OPC-UA communication protocol, which is becoming a standard of Industry 4.0 networks, which Engel calls inject 4.0.
Years of talk about observing and studying coolant flow in a clear simulated cooling channel finally becomes a reality. Here’s how it all came together, and what it all means.
For most injection molding jobs, cooling is 95% of the cycle time.
Mold-temperature control is just one of many process elements that can affect the quality of an injection molded part.