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Mold/tooling event highlights ways to boost efficiency

News 05.05.2016

Mikell Knights, senior correspondent at Plastics Machinery Magazine

Exhibits at the Molding 2016 conference March 29-31 in New Orleans focused on improving the monitoring of melt behavior in the tool, an easier way to handle small molds for maintenance, and a simple approach to managing components for end-of-arm tooling (EOAT). One company also offered a way to consolidate a range of tooling motions into a single control for more efficient molding.

IR sensor and fiber optics
Advance melt monitoring
Futaba Corp., a Mobara, Japan-based manufacturer of mold bases and mold components for injection molding, now is offering in the U.S. a system that utilizes a fiber optic infrared (IR) sensor for melt temperature monitoring. Futaba’s Mold Marshalling System (MMS) also can be configured using thermocouples or pressure sensors, rather than fiber-optic sensors, for use as a mold-monitoring system, said product manager Yasuo Ishiwata, MMS for Futaba Corp. of America, Schaumburg, Ill.

DieSep MMS system in LAB2

Futaba’s MMS system installed on an injection press.

Futaba offers MMS in three configurations. MMS with cavity-pressure sensing can capture data from up to eight sensors. The system can perform mold-surface temperature sensing using a thermocouple. The newest configuration, introduced to the U.S. last year, features an IR sensor for immediate and accurate melt flow detection and melt temperature reading.

MMS for melt flow detection employs an industrial IR sensor tied to a fiber optic cable. The time it takes to record data when it encounters the melt front — just 8 milliseconds — compares favorably to a direct-contact thermocouple, which can take as long as 300 milliseconds, Ishiwata said. The sensor measures the IR radiation from the melt, and can be placed directly in the cavity. It has the ability to continue capturing IR data even as the melt solidifies and shrinks away from the sensor during cooling, he said.

When configured with an IR sensor, MMS can be used to measure the shear heating effect as the melt temperature changes from the runner through the gate, Ishiwata said. MMS can be used to link a given injection speed to a recorded melt temperature, to reveal the extent of shear heating at a given injection rate. Molders can use MMS to determine the cooling rate, and whether they can decrease the level of mold cooling or increase flow rates and cool the part faster, he said. MMS will also show if the part has been at the required temperature for the correct amount of time. And MMS can monitor the cooling capability of the mold, and if that capability changes over time.

Using an IR sensor, MMS provides real-time information about temperature. The system can be configured so that data is displayed on the injection molding machine’s control screen.

The IR-based MMS unit comes in two types, flush-mounted or ejector-pin, and can be placed in the cavity for melt temperature monitoring. Users can place the sensor at the end of fill to monitor for short shots, or near the gate or in the runner system to monitor melt temperature at those locations, Ishiwata said.

The MMS saves the data from every cycle, which allows for process traceability. Molders use the data to diagnose cavity balance or mold-filling issues, and can optimize machine conditions using a template-matching function in which ideal molding conditions can be saved and recalled as a benchmark. Alarm settings can monitor a point or a zone along a process curve. MMS can be tied into the machine control of an injection unit, Ishiwata said.

Futaba said resins with carbon black pigment can affect melt-temperature readings, because the pigment can absorb IR wavelengths. MMS may show a slightly lower temperature value with a material containing carbon black versus a clear part, and the recorded temperature may appear to fall off more rapidly during the process cycle, Ishiwata said.

As machine controls have evolved, molders need to look to other ways to improve their processes, he said. One tactic is better monitoring of the process itself. “Occasionally an abrupt filling change can occur due to an issue with the material, the check ring or the gate, but it is external factors that cause most process variations and part quality issues,” he said.

Safely open smaller molds
Die-Sep Division of CLM Marketing Inc., Baton Rouge, La., a manufacturer of machines that open, tip and close molds, last year introduced Mini Die-Sep, for smaller molds.

Mini Die-Sep is designed for the opening and tipping of molds up to 3,000 pounds. It is designed to be compact at 79 inches long, yet it can move the halves of the mold apart up to 101 inches, providing up to 41 inches between the mold halves. Mini Die-Sep operates on a 110-volt power source, and is designed to clamp the mold using magnets.

DieSep minipic8

The Mini Die-Sep machine is designed for the opening and tipping of molds weighing up to 3,000 pounds.

A hydraulic system in the unit opens and tilts the mold for mold cleaning and mold maintenance, eliminating the use of pry bars, sledgehammers or manual clamps to open the mold. This eliminates much of the manual work that can cause injuries or damage to tooling, said Sales VP Louis Bowler. Die-Sep designs Mini Die-Sep for use with single-face molds and stack molds, or tools that are split-stepped or have a slide imbalanced parting line. Users move control levers to safely and securely engage and disengage the magnets and activate movements that split or join the tool.

Mini Die-Sep can be configured so that each platen supporting a mold half separates from the other, or so that one mold half moves while the other is stationary. The machine can also be designed so that one or both platens tip the mold half each supports.

Die-Sep’s basic system can handle tools weighing up to 100,000 pounds and is capable of tipping mold halves weighing up to 50,000 pounds. Die-Sep systems can now be designed with tooling to handle core pulls in three different sizes. Users can pull and set mold cores using a pendant controller.

Bowler said the company is working on integrating a mold temperature controller into the system, which would allow the molder to condition the mold prior to machine installation to save time.

Organize components for EOAT
SAS Automation LLC, Xenia, Ohio, a designer, manufacturer and maintenance provider of EOAT and end-effector gripper systems for all makes and styles of robots, rolled out a new component management system that makes it easier for molders to keep track of components used to build custom and standard EOAT.

Through its vendor-managed inventory program, SAS ensures that all necessary robotic gripper components are in stock at the facilities of participating customers. SAS provides the customer with a stocking cabinet at no charge, which is then refilled by the molder or serviced by SAS. Either party can reorder parts ahead of a new EOAT build. The program helps customers save money on inventory management costs and freight.

SAS Automation plans to introduce an app to help customers restock their cabinets with a bar-code scanner to easily search/locate parts from its online catalog.

SAS has more than 1,500 EOAT components and associated supplies, kits and systems, said GM Rob Dalton. The company’s sales involve components, as well as standard and custom EOAT dealing with insert molding, in-mold labeling, or a range of other processes.

One control for tool motions
Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd., Bolton, Ontario, has extended the capabilities of its Altanium hot-runner temperature controller line so that it can control actions within the mold.

DieSep Altanium Family Comp

Husky’s enhanced Altanium hot-runner temperature controller systems

The new H Series Altanium controllers provide additional diagnostic capabilities, as well as centralized control of actions taking place in the mold, including servo-actuated motions of the valve stem, core pull, unscrewing rack or coining plate, said Dave Morton, VP, Americas, Hot Runners and Controllers.

Integrating the controls combines hardware for reduced cost and saves floor space. Because the unit is on casters, the data can travel with the mold from machine to machine. Integrating the controls also reduces complexity, which makes the system easier to use and allows for better control through faster recognition of irregularities.

Morton said integrated control reduces process variability, which can result in faster cycle times and improved part quality. Molders may also reduce energy consumption by reducing cooling time requirements. Tighter process control means that no energy is wasted in heating the material.

Husky developed icons that guide the user through the Altanium unit’s displays showing data from the integrated units. Morton said the electrification of the mold offers the opportunity to centralize the control of those motions. The scalable system can be adjusted to suit changing needs.

Users can establish an interlock between any servo-driven motion and up to eight definable inputs, as well as the Altanium temperature control to further mitigate risk, Morton said.Operators can use the H series Altanium to track process changes and view an event log, Morton said. The H series can handle a sequentially valve-gated tool.

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