LWB-Automation: Successful in-house-exhibition
From 16 – 24 August 2021, an in-house-exhibition took place at LWB-Automation in Weinheim, Germany, which was aimed at pre-invited company teams and was very well received. One of the reasons for this was the "anti-corona security concept" with pre-booked "time-slots", which limited the number of visitors present at the same time. The side effect of these measures, which was perceived as positive by both sides, was that it made it possible to provide interested parties with individual and more in-depth support.
The basic idea is to use the injection moulding machine exclusively for what it was designed for: The plasticising and injection of rubber but also thermoplastics, not however for the unproductive waiting of the vulcanisation or cooling time with the closed mould in the machine. As an alternative to this, a system has been developed that allows the vulcanisation time to be outsourced from the machine, thus unlocking capacity for additional injection cycles. It consists of an injection moulding machine, a six-axis robot and external heating stations, as well as subsequent stations for demoulding and finishing.
This system opens up the possibility of not having to switch after the prototype phase to a multi-cavity mould with the matching "large" machine for a production project, but rather to start with a small machine and a small mould designed with exchangeable mould plates. After injection, these are taken over by a robot, locked and transferred to an external heating station for vulcanization or cooling, depending on the material being processed. Since that releases free capacity in the injection moulding machine, it can be used by inserting additional sets of exchangeable plates. Their number can grow in line upon demand until a balance is achieved between plasticising and injection time and the external process times (curing or colling).
The multi-station production cell can not only "grow" in line with demand, but can also "shrink" in the event of underutilisation, i. e. individual (cost-effective) mould sets can be "decommissioned" or replaced by mould sets for different moulded parts. The system concept is modular throughout. This means that the production cell can be "upgraded" to a multi-component production cell by integrating additional machines, robots, heating or cooling stations and demoulding stations. During the in-house exhibition, the production of a mounting bearing for an automotive component was demonstrated, consisting of a metal bushing over-moulded with a thick-walled spring body made of rubber. The production cell used for this purpose featured a vertical 1,000 kN C-frame-machine, a six-axis robot, twelve heating stations and ten cavity sets.
Dominic Bauer, the sales manager for automation systems, summarised the discussions with the visitors of the in-house exhibition: "The approaches and solutions we developed during the Corona crisis went beyond what we had previously offered to our customers. In the discussions during our in-house-exhibition we have sensed that they were positively received, especially since they open up potential for an increasing efficiency and thus are contributing to a more sustainable way of production."