Plastics Technology Product Alert, Jun. 19, 2020

The latest technology from Star Plastics, Clariant, and Laserax


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Materials: Cold-Temperature Impact PC Copolymer

Star Plastics’ new addition to its StarPrime line is a PC copolymer which boasts improved impact at extreme temperatures.

A cold-temperature impact PC copolymer, available in injection and extrusion grades in all colors, has been newly added to the StarPrime product line of custom compounder Star Plastics, Ravenswood, W. Va. . This new offering opens the door for Star Plastics, creating more opportunities in the outdoor enclosure markets, particularly related to 5G, solar energy, electric vehicles and weather monitoring stations.

According to the company, this latest innovation is a UL certified, Reach and RoHS compliant, PC siloxane copolymer that can withstand extreme temperatures and provides superior impact when compared to general-purpose PC. It also features elevated RTI’s (Relative Temperature Index) and flame retardancy levels necessary for outdoor electrical applications. Said director of sales Chuck Hoop, “With our technical formulation capabilities, we saw the opportunity to create a UL certified product to satisfy the growing demand for cold temperature impact products, which are used in the 5G and solar markets, just to name a few.”

The new product features an improvement in processing parameters, allowing Star to support complex part designs previously not possible with thermoset plastics, which are the materials traditionally used in these target applications. The improved flow of the material results in less stress in complex molded components, enhancing the overall performance.

Star Plastic's new material also provides a more environmentally friendly solution than traditional materials, as it is recyclable. “This technology is non-chlorinated and non-brominated, Reach and RoHS compliant, and can be reused—unlike thermosets (fiberglass) that are not able to be re-compounded. Any scrap created in the thermoforming process becomes unusable, and many times goes to landfill,” said Hoop. 

Automation: Plug-and-Play Screwdriver for Cobots

OnRobot’s screwdriver features built-in smart features—including precise torque and embedded axis control—that simplify programming and boost productivity.

OnRobot (U.S. office Dallas) a Danish manufacturer of tools and add-ons for collaborative robots, has introduced a new screwdriver that can be deployed and redeployed for different applications in minutes onto cobot arms. The screwdriver will help manufacturers eager to automate repetitive, unergonomic, and often inconsistent manual screwdriving processes, as well as aid plants that haven’t been able to integrate and program automated screwdriving systems.

OnRobot says to program the screwdriver, users only need to enter the appropriate screw length and torque value into the control interface that is integrated into the teach pendant of any leading robot. With precise torque control and embedded axis, the OnRobot Screwdriver automatically calculates the speed and force required for consistent, accurate screwdriving. The Screwdriver can detect incorrect screw length, improving quality and reducing scrap.

OnRobot screwdriver

Smart features on the new OnRobot screwdriver include embedded torque and axis control.

The Screwdriver’s “z-axis” allows screws to be retracted inside the tool and driven automatically once the robot arm moves into position. This cuts down on robot arm movement and additional programming. Screws up to 35 mm in length are retracted completely inside the screwdriver when moving until the process is safely initiated, making it human friendly in collaborative environments.

The screwdriver can handle a wide range of screw sizes and lengths, from M1.6 to M6, and up to 50 mm in length. Simplified programming and an interchangeable bit system, allow the screwdriver to quickly switch over to a different screw size, length or product line in minutes.

Screwdriver features include:

  • Embedded axis for accuracy and easy programming
  • Precise torque control from 0.15Nm to 5Nm
  • Screw sizes from M1.6 to M6, and up to 50mm long
  • Available screw feeders
  • ESD safe for electronics assembly
  • Mounting via OnRobot Quick Changer

The Screwdriver is compatible with OnRobot’s One System Solution platform that provides a unified mechanical and electrical interface between leading robot arms and any OnRobot product. The One System Solution has been newly expanded to include integration with robots from ABB Robotics and Hanwha Precision Machinery. Users of those robots can now also take advantage of the unified mechanical and electrical interface of any OnRobot product, for easier integration and faster ROI.

OnRobot screwdriver

The screwdriver is compatible with OnRobot’s One System Solution platform that provides a unified mechanical and electrical interface between leading robot arms.

Additives: NIR-Detectable Black Masterbatch Technology Make Dark Colors More Recyclable

Clariant ColorWorks develops dark colorants without carbon black for PET, HDPE and PP. 

In its continued quest to develop new technology that improves the recyclability of plastics while offering packaging and product developers more color options, Clariant (U.S. office in Charlotte, N.C.) has launched a family of proprietary deep, dark colorants that typically would require use of carbon black pigments that makes them undetectable by the near-infrared (NIR) sensors used in automated polymer sorting systems at recycling centers.

However, the new Clariant colorants developed in its ColorWorks design and technology center near Milan, Italy, now makes it possible to explore a darker and more mysterious color space entirely without the use of carbon black. Development is well underway for  PET, HDPE and PP in both virgin and post-consumer recycled (PCR) forms for use in all the various packaging applications, including trays, bottles and caps.

In most automatic sortation systems, infrared light is beamed onto plastic materials and, because different polymers reflect that light differently, the system can sort the different materials. Unfortunately, carbon black pigments typically used to make black and other deeply dark colors absorb all or most of the NIR light shone at them and, as a result, the sensors cannot even “see” the black packaging, much less sort one polymer from another.

In late 2019, Clariant introduced Cesa IR, a masterbatch range that makes black plastics visible to NIR radiation. This effect was confirmed by testing conducted by TOMRA Sorting Recycling, a Norwegian company that is a leader in the field of instrumentation for recycling solutions.

But designers want more choices than pure black, according to Roberto Romanin, a Clariant ColorWorks designer, “There are very definite trends in this direction. Some exclusive, high-end facial treatments, nutrient serums and oils are being packaged in these rich dark colors. However, most of them still use carbon black and so they have recyclability problems.” To address this issue, the ColorWorks team undertook a project, to use Cesa-IR technology to develop colors that could be dark without the use of carbon black. Three colors – a dark umber, a deep velvety green, and a regal dark blue – have been created initially. All three are really saturated so they are almost black but the colors come through, bringing to mind elegance, exclusivity, heritage and boldness.

Decorating: Laser Marking with Nearly Seamless Integration and Remote Support

Laserax’s LXO Fiber Laser Marker series reduces integration time and cost and facilitates collaboration between system integrators and laser experts. 

A new laser marker series said to redefine how easy and accessible laser system integration can be was recently introduced by Laserax, Quebec City, Canada.  After two years of development, new LXO Fiber Laser Marker series is also said to facilitate collaboration between system integrators and laser experts—a key factor for quick and easy laser integration.

To break the barriers of laser expertise, the system has a remote connection capability that can grant control of the system to a Laserax expert or partner anywhere in the world. Relying on a secure cloud VPN, this allows laser experts to better support integrators and end-users through remote services such as installation, training, after-sales support and live demos.

Said company president Xavier Godmair, “In the aftermath of COVID-19, our capacity to provide support regardless of physical barriers will be ever more important. We will be able to do this through remote support and with a local presence ensured by system integrators and partners. The LXQ Series will foster close partnerships between Laserax and integrators. It will make their lives easier by bringing our laser expertise to them, regardless of where they are.”

Key features that make system integration straightforward include:

 ▪  A web-based HMI can be displayed in any web browser for a quick control of the laser without programming.

 ▪  The system’s interfacing can be done using the most standard industrial protocols

 ▪  Fully configured peripherals are ready to be used. Among them, a Cognex camera for barcode validation, an air-knife for lens protection, and 3D-Autofocus sensors for automatic adjustments.

Apart from laser marking, LXQ fiber lasers can treat any metal surface with laser cleaning, laser texturing, and laser hardening. This is a game changer for system integrators who no longer need to go to one supplier for laser marking, and another one for laser cleaning. They can integrate the same laser regardless of the application.