“Unmanned” injection molding made possible by Stäubli


“What we are showing here is a fully integrated Industry 4.0 production cell for quick mold change in the plastics industry,”said Thierry Parent, Plastics Marketing Manager of Stäubli. “We offer complete solutions for customers, from loading of the mold, to preheating, transfer and installation.”

Stäubli’s demonstration of its Single Minute Exchange of Die (SMED) technology begins with the preheating of molds and other preparation steps, of which the process is implemented in the meantime of the ongoing production. All the transportations of medium, power and signal could be realized with Stäubli multi-coupling system by One Click.

Thanks to the integrated sensor module, the connectors are able to detect the conditions of molds and to send the feedback data to the subsequent process. Therefore, any error, such as a failure to reach the correct operating temperature, could be recognized and avoided at the primary stage.

“We can manage automatically other systems like connection of the injector, temperature controllers, hydraulics, etc,” said Parent.

“The main benefit of our SMED technology is of course productivity. It is an approach strongly developed in Stäubli. What we intended to do is to lower as much as possible the changeover time. For instance, the preheating period can be shortened when changing production from one series to another, which means an increase of productivity,” Parent explained.

“In addition to saving energy, it can avoid unnecessary mistakes made by the workers, which might damage the machine,” added Robert Neubauer, Sales Manager, QMC.

The main theme behind Industry 4.0 is that all the equipment are connected together and their ability to communicate with each other.

“With advanced measuring system our magnetic clamping system can manage and reduce the clamping force automatically. The machine talks with the machine without any interference from human,” explained Neubauer.

With a range of automation design, Stäubli SMED technology diminish the mold changing time of more than 95%, simplify the operating process, expand the processing capacity of device, improve considerably the mold changing efficiency and decrease the risk of accident.

Parent noted that the company is working with different injection molding machines OEM to fully integrate its magnetic clamping system into the machines. Haitian, the largest injection molding machinery supplier in China, is one of its clients. “They don’t need extra controller because everything is integrated into the control panel of the machine.”

As a solution provider, Stäubli employs specialists worldwide to work with its customers. Around 20 of them are in China. “The purpose is that, first of all, we help them to identify where time can be saved. We make trials together and advices what they need to do to save costs,” said Parent.

The Industry 4.0 movement is gathering pace in every part of the world, including China, he observed, “and we have to follow the trend.”

“The Chinese market is growing and what we notice is that the quality is also increasing very fast,” Parent commented.

Neubauer noticed that low quality plastics parts production are moving to Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam, as China becomes too expensive. “It means the companies here have to invest to make it faster or increase the efficiency. For us it is a great opportunity because we can offer all the required tools.”

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