At K 2019, Wittmann Battenfeld shows innovative injection moulding technologies, processes and applications in line with this year’s exhibition theme: digitization and circular economy
by Giovanni Mayer
Innovation has always been a top priority at Wittmann Battenfeld (Hall 15, Booth C06). The company’s product developments are designed to offer customers maximum benefits and simultaneously to protect the environment and preserve it for future generations in a sustainable way. Apart from further development and optimization of machinery and equipment, this is achieved primarily through the development and continuous improvement of the adaptive HiQ application and process technologies and use of advanced software systems and technologies to enable the integration of machines, robots, auxiliary appliances and MES systems via Wittmann 4.0, plus sensor systems for machine condition monitoring, abbreviated CMS.
Intelligent machines with adaptive algorithms
The main theme of Wittmann Battenfeld’s presentation at the K 2019 is to showcase intelligent machines with adaptive algorithms, which adjust themselves to the ambient conditions. This is demonstrated with an all-electric EcoPower 55/350 equipped with the software packages HiQ-Flow, HiQ-Melt and HiQ-Metering. A W918 robot from Wittmann and all auxiliaries connected with the machine, as well as the TEMI+ MES system, are integrated in the machine’s Unilog B8 control system via Wittmann 4.0. The electronic mould data sheet is also be used on Unilog B8. The production cell linked together via the Wittmann 4.0 router is thus able to check whether the connected auxiliaries are sufficient for the selected product data set, or if additional equipment is needed. At the company booth, this production cell is used to present the HiQ functions in the form of specialist lectures and live demonstrations. On the EcoPower 55/350, polycarbonate clothes pegs are manufactured with a 4-cavity mould supplied by Lechner (Austria).
Using this fully integrated production cell, the advantages of integration via Wittmann 4.0 and the TEMI+ MES system can be clearly seen. In a live demonstration, the product HiQ-Flow is automatically compensate the effect of material viscosity fluctuations, thus ensuring stable parts quality and eliminating scrap.
To avoid plastic waste, pieces of sprue and bad parts deliberately produced for demonstration purposes is re-granulated in the new G-Max 9 granulator from Wittmann, and then directly returned to the machine hopper via the vacuum conveying device connected with the granulator.
Technologies for medical applications
Another new product at this year’s K is a high-speed EcoPower Xpress 160/1100+ in a medical version. On this machine with 1,600 kN clamping force, PET blood tubes are produced with a 48-cavity mould supplied by Pass Card (Taiwan). To meet the stringent requirements for PET plasticizing, this machine has been equipped with a modified high-performance screw. In addition, a special drying hopper has been mounted above the injection unit, where the granulate is dried by a frequency-controlled Drymax 300 dryer from Wittmann. The tubes are removed from the mould and deposited in transport boxes by the new Wittmann high-speed robot. The robot controls a box exchange device, which removes every full box and replaces it immediately with one of the empty boxes held ready, to ensure uninterrupted production of the tubes.
Another medical technology application is demonstrated on a machine from the MicroPower series from Wittmann Battenfeld designed for the production of micro parts in the clean-room version. Using a MicroPower 15/10 with 150 kN clamping force, a micro retaining ring for medical miniature tubes are produced from PC with an 8-cavity mould supplied by Wittner (Austria). This product has a part weight of only 2 mg. The machine comes with a rotary unit, an integrated Wittmann W8VS2 robot and a camera for complete parts inspection. Following removal and camera inspection, the parts are transferred to transport containers, separated according to individual cavities. A novelty in the MicroPower is a further improved, 2-step screw-and-plunger injection unit now able to process shot volumes of up to 6 cm3.
Lightweight technology for vehicles
With an example from the automotive industry, Wittmann Battenfeld demonstrates at the exhibition its competence in Cellmould structured foam technology, which enables the production of lightweight parts as are required primarily in the automotive industry to reduce fuel consumption and/or increase the battery range. On a MacroPower 1100/12800 with an energy-efficient servo drive, a seat bench support for a German sports car is manufactured from PP with a single-cavity mould supplied by Frimo (Germany). The machine is equipped with the SEDE combined nitrogen and pressure generator unit developed and manufactured by Wittmann Battenfeld. The nitrogen required for this technology is taken from the ambient air and compressed to the working pressure of up to 330 bar.
The material processed is a type of PP suitable for automotive applications supplied by Borealis. It is the type ME225SY, which contains 25 post-consumer recycling material and 25% talcum. The parts are removed and deposited by a WX152 robot. On this machine, the CMS condition monitoring system from Wittmann Battenfeld has been installed, too, which ensures continuous condition monitoring of the most important machine parameters.
The current condition of the MacroPower 1100 can be read out from a CMS info and control station placed directly next to the machine. Beside this machine, there is also an Airmould/Cellmould info stand, where visitors can get detailed information about the processes being demonstrated.
A second application for the automotive industry is presented on a machine from the SmartPower series in XL configuration. With a SmartPower 240 XL, a module for a car headliner with a functional surface is produced with a single-cavity mould supplied by Georg Kaufmann (Switzerland). The module consists of an operating section mounted at the center and lighting sections on each side. For the production of this module, the IMD Varioform process developed by Leonhard Kurz is used. In this process, a partially translucent decoration sheet is combined with a functional sheet with a printed-on sensor structure on the inside of the moulded part. The poly TC sensor demonstrates the touch operation of light on/off and dimming functions as well as setting of the color of the LED light source behind it.
The machine is equipped with an automation system from Wittmann Battenfeld Deutschland in Nuremberg. It consists of a WX142 robot with a C axis and an infrared radiation heater on the Y-axis to heat the continuous sheet used for this application. The WX142 inserts the functional sheet with sensor structure into the mould. The next step is to pull the IMD Varioform sheet through, heat it and then thermoform it using a vacuum. During the same production step, both sheets are overmoulded. In this application, the sensor sheet can be optionally selected via a touch button. In this way, it is possible to injection-mould parts either with or without sensor sheet.
A special automation package
At K 2019, Wittmann Battenfeld is also show its latest further development of the vertical machine in PowerSeries design in the multi-component version. On a VPower 120/130H/210V, a plug made of PA and TPE for the automotive industry is manufactured with a 2+2-cavity mould. The complete automation system for the machine is designed by Wittmann Battenfeld Deutschland in Nuremberg. In this application, a Scara robot and a WX142 linear robot from Wittmann are used, which insert the wrap pins, transfer the preforms, then remove and deposit the finished parts.
Recycling economy in the packaging industry
Circular economy is a strategic focus of Wittmann Battenfeld. At the fair, cosmetic jars with lids are manufactured from a material completely based on natural ingredients on an EcoPower 240/1100H/130L Combimould using a 4+4-cavity mould. This material can be recycled without any loss of its functional properties. The jar is injected by the machine’s main aggregate, the lid by the L aggregate.
The machine is equipped with a fully integrated W842 pro robot from Wittmann, which takes a round paper label from a magazine and inserts it on the clamping side for the bottom of the jar. Next, the W842 pro removes the parts from the nozzle side and passes the jars on to a W818 robot, which inserts them into a screwing station. The W842 pro then transfers the lids for the jars to the screwing station, where they are screwed onto the jars and deposited.
One of Wittmann Battenfeld’s main application technology themes at K 2019 is silicone injection moulding. The company demonstrates its expertise by producing a valve for medical technology from an LSR formulation on a machine of its all-electric EcoPower series, an EcoPower 160/350, with a 16-cavity mould supplied by Nexus (Austria).
The injection unit in open design enables easy integration of the LSR metering unit. The Nexus Highline metering unit comes with a new servomix metering system with OPC-UA integration. In the mould, latest cold runner technology is used including Timeshot needle shut-off control. Parts removal and depositing are handled by a WX142 robot from Wittmann.
Plasticizing systems and central material supply
The plasticizing system of an injection moulding machine is the central unit determining the quality of a plastic component. Wittmann Battenfeld supports its customers with tailor-made solutions in terms of geometries, materials and surface finish. The machines at the company booth are supplied mainly via a central material handling system from Wittmann. In addition to a drying system for PET, mobile Aton dryers and Gravimax gravimetric blenders is used. Feedmax central material loaders and stand-alone material loaders complete the picture.