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IMI Bulgaria uses robotized solutions

Сase studies

 

Jassen Sterev, the General Manager of WITTMANN BATTENFELD Bulgarien EOOD

IMI Bulgaria has chosen WITTMANN BATTENFELD Bulgaria as their main supplier for injection molding machines and peripheral equipment. It was not only high-quality machinery that was important to IMI, but also WITTMANN BATTENFELD’s ability to provide modern, innovative solutions for getting to a cost-effective automated production process.

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Robot gripper, customized to meet the requirements of this particular application.

IMI (Integrated Micro-Electronics, Inc.) was established in 1980 as a joint venture between Ayala Corporation and Resins Inc. Today, IMI is a widely recognized expert in providing electronics manufacturing services (EMS), as well as power semiconductor assembly and test services (SATS), for diversified markets including those in the automotive, medical, solar energy, telecommunications infrastructure, storage device, and consumer electronics industries.

IMI’s global presence encompasses operations at 15 manufacturing sites and sales offices across Asia, North America, and Eastern Europe. The IMI Bulgaria plant in Botevgrad has a footprint of about 24,000 square meters and about 1,280 employees. The Bulgarian IMI branch is active in the automotive, industrial and consumer electronics markets.

IMI and WITTMANN BATTENFELD
The collaboration between IMI and WITTMANN BATTENFELD Bulgaria started in 2011 with the development of a new project for the automotive industry. The material being processed was an engineering plastic, and the parts were very different in size and shape. IMI built the respective 4-cavity mold inhouse according to their own design. In 2012, WITTMANN BATTENFELD Bulgaria delivered the first production cell consisting of an HM 300/1330 ServoPower injection molding machine with integrated Insider package, a WITTMANN W821 robot, and a material dryer with 2 drying hoppers.

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Arrival of the injection molding machine for the second production cell. This WITTMANN BATTENFELD HM 300/1330 ServoPower arrived at the IMI plant in Botevgrad in February 2014.

Afterwards, the production cell had to be equipped with very special peripheral solutions that were needed for this specific application, including custom EOAT (end-of-arm tooling/gripper). Expert technical support was also needed for the programming of the cell. Several audits had to be held, and every one of these helped to improve the installation work that was done by WITTMANN BATTENFELD. The additional technical solutions that WITTMANN BATTENFELD provided for the completion of this production cell included the following:

• W821 programming for part removal from the mold and for dropping the parts onto the integrated conveyor belt. The difficulty was to match that every time the machine had started up, the parts from the first five shots had to fall down and must not be taken by the robot.

• Designing the gripper was very difficult, because of the different height, the shape and weight of the molded parts. Also, the sprues had to stay off of the conveyor belt, so additional blowers had to be mounted on the gripper plate.

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The second (in the picture left), and already working first production cell (in the picture right), at the IMI Bulgaria plant.

•  The sprues and the bad parts that fell from the machine had to be collected, but only the sprues had to be granulated, not the bad parts. Thus, conveying equipment with sprue separation was delivered, as well as a WITTMANN Minor 2 granulator.

•  The mold had to be tempered to 60 °C, thus a large WITTMANN TEMPRO plus XL 90 temperature controller with a power of 36 kW was delivered. The WITTMANN BATTENFELD injection molding machine and the temperature controller had to communicate and had to give an alarm or shut down in case a problem occurred with the injection molding machineor the TEMPRO unit. The respective connection and programming were implemented.

After this installation had worked well for some time, IMI decided in 2013 to order the same equipment again: a second HM 300/1330 ServoPower injection molding machine for the production of similar parts. The only “little” difference was that the second production cell had to be mirrored in comparison to the first one, because the integrated conveyors of both production cells had to run into the same direction. The following additional solutions had to be executed for this second production cell:

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Two views of the first production cell: from the operator’s side (top) and from behind (bottom). The top picture shows the Insider package, the picture at the bottom the additional conveyor belt with sprue separator, and the Minor 2 granulator.

•  Instead of the W821, a W818 robot from WITTMANN was installed. This robot had to remove the parts and the sprues, put the parts on the conveyor belt, and take the sprues to the already existing Minor 2 granulator.
•  A completely newly designed gripper with more vacuum cups was needed, and this new device had to apply the SoftTorque function of the WITTMANN R8 robot control. This became necessary because in this case, the mold had been made by another manufacturer, and this mold’s ejectors were using springs.

In between these two big projects, the WITTMANN BATTENFELD experts provided IMI with two more injection molding machines for their plastic part production with 110 and 150 tons of clamping force. These machines were also equipped with proven WITTMANN auxiliaries: dryers, loaders, and temperature controllers. At this juncture, IMI runs six WITTMANN BATTENFELD injection molding machines in total.

The WITTMANN BATTENFELD service technicians are always available, and they solve any problem that may occur with the production of plastic parts to ensure the customers’ full satisfaction.

Of course, the Bulgarian WITTMANN Group branch will continue its close and successful partnership with IMI Bulgaria, providing the company with highly developed technical solutions. Currently, IMI is building a new production hall where more injection molding machines will be operated.

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The second (in the picture left), and already working first production cell (in the picture right), at the IMI Bulgaria plant.

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