"We were very pleased with the outcome of the NPE. Our exhibition stand was well frequented on all five days of the exhibition and the quality of the discussions was extremely high," summarised Friedrich Kanz, Manager of Arburg's North American subsidiary. Visitors were particularly impressed with the five high-end exhibits. With its fully electric machines, wide variety of automation solutions and broad range of applications, Arburg had precisely judged the demand in the market for high-quality and cost-efficient solutions for specific production requirements.
The Allrounder Alldrive (A) electric series is much in demand in the USA. Accordingly, visitors to the NPE demonstrated enormous interest in the Allrounder 720 A, the currently largest in the series with a clamping force of 3,200 kN (360 tons). This electric machine offered impressive proof of its capabilities with a high-speed packaging application. Four lids were produced in a cycle time of 5.6 seconds: fast, precise, and energy efficient.
Reflecting the importance of the electric Alldrive machine series, two more exhibits from the electric series were on show in Chicago: As the centre-piece of complete production cells and with sophisticated applications, both demonstrated the great flexibility of the electric Arburg machines with the Selogica controller.
The Allrounder 520 A with clamping force of 1,500 kN (165 tons) attracted a lot of attention with the combination of the innovative in-mould labelling and assembly injection moulding processes and the production of a high-quality racing car in a single production step. The application was implemented using the cube mould supplied by American mould makers Electroform, which was also used for the assembly process. The picking up of the labels from the Electroform pickup station, their precise insertion and the removal and setting down of the finished moulded parts, were all handled by a vertically operating Multilift V robotic system.
A two-component moulded part made from thermoplastic and LSR was produced on the Allrounder 570 A with a clamping force of 2,000 kN (220 tons). A Multilift V robotic system handled the removal of the four moulded parts, their transport to the downstream assembly and leak check stations, and the setting down of the finished parts. This exhibit impressed visitors for several reasons: the perfect implementation of combined LSR and thermoplastic processing with regard to temperature separation in the mould, simple LSR injection moulding thanks to the appropriate equipment package, the integrated UV light irradiation in the mould for better adhesion of the LSR, the integration of downstream production and quality control processes and the central Selogica control system, which also enables complex processes to be managed reliably. Thus, this system was a perfect example of customer-specific production cells. This is designed and implemented by Arburg, as main contractor, through its project department at the Lossburg headquarters and the project engineers at Arburg USA.
Two other exhibits from the project department were to be found on the Arburg stand. The smallest Allrounder 170 S with a clamping force of 125 kN (14 tons) showed its capabilities in a micro-injection moulding application. The machine was equipped with a 12 millimetre screw for processing the special micro granulate. Micro gear wheels were produced weighing just 0.001 grams. Visitors were astonished by the level of precision shown in the production of the delicate micro components, which were hardly distinguishable from grains of granulate at first glance. A specially designed horizontally operating Multilift H robotic system was used to remove these from the mould by means of vacuum and to set them down in glass tubes in accordance with their cavities.
Thus, the NPE afforded Arburg an opportunity to prove not only the extreme flexibility of its Allrounders, but also of its Multilift robotic systems. These can be fully integrated in the central Selogica control system, so that even complex processes can be programmed with great ease.
The production cell built around the Allrounder 375 V with a clamping force of 500 kN (55 tons) vertical machine showed that the familiar convenience of the Selogica user interface was available even with six-axis robotic systems. In this application - involving the production of a buggy - a six-axis robot placed the metal axles in the mould and removed them again after they has been encapsulated with plastic wheels, along with the roof, chassis and sprue. After the sprue was discarded, the six-axis robotic system assembled the four individual parts on an assembly table and then removed them via a chute. The complex movements of the six-axis robot required for this purpose can be programmed with ease and in the familiar way thanks to the Selogica control interface implemented on the robotic control system and the teach-in function. This exhibit made it clear just how small an area was required for automation purposes. At the same time, the six-axis robotic system also offers great flexibility in the face of continuously changing production requirements. This means that new processes can be created quickly and, most importantly, without special programming knowledge. The individual steps are carried out manually and the various positions are confirmed with the "Teach" button. After automatic checking and implementation of all the necessary parameter entries, the entire robotic sequence is created automatically.
"The aim of our appearance at the NPE was to demonstrate Arburg's potential and product range - with the emphasis on fully-electric injection moulding machines and turn-key-automation. Visitors to our stand have unanimously confirmed the fact that we have succeeded in doing this," says Friedrich Kanz. According to the feedback from visitors, each exhibit had been a highlight in itself, while Arburg had succeeded in catering for all interests with its broad range of applications. "Visitors were measured in terms of quality rather than quantity at this year's NPE. Accordingly, there were many high-quality specialist discussions, as well as discussion of the preliminary stages of concrete projects," says the subsidiary manager, summarising the very positive outcome of the exhibition, which far exceeded cautiously optimistic expectations prior to the event.