German partners address micro and precision moulding inefficiencies

In a new strategic partnership, Sumitomo (SHI) Demag has announced its cooperation with Fraunhofer Institute for Production Systems and Design Technology IPK in Berlin. The aim of this strategic partnership is to develop an economical inline inspection process that achieves 100% control of micro and precision injection moulded parts in the shortest possible cycle time.

For any fully automated high-precision plastic production line, quality control is critical. Yet, achieving this level of precision can also cause production, machine, automation and tooling bottlenecks. Producing optical plastic injection moulded components in particular typically encounters inefficiencies as a result of
performing continuous checks. In turn impacting the entire output through significant loss of cycle time.

"With fast-running processes, every fraction of a second saved in cycle time counts. The innovative approach of the Fraunhofer IPK based on established X-ray and CT measurement techniques is extremely promising in our eyes. That is why we are supporting the project both with machine hardware and in the technical cooperation," announces Thorsten Thümen, Senior Director Technology at Sumitomo (SHI) Demag in Schwaig.

In support of this research initiative, Sumitomo (SHI) Demag is supplying Fraunhofer IPK with a fully electric, high-speed injection moulding machine IntElect S, equipped with automation and a conveyor belt. The company’s Speed series of all-electric machines, currently available with clamping forces of 50 ton to 180 ton, is designed specifically for high-speed applications with short cycle times of less than 5 seconds. Deployed widely in the medical technology and electronics industries, as well as in other markets requiring high precision, the high-speed series perfectly complements the institutions’ investigative research and development program.

"Our all-electric drive technology provides an immensely strong foundation for process optimisation, with the potential to achieve greater process consistency, as well as more energy efficiency and reducing cycle times. Additionally, the measurement technology also plays an essential role in the performance of the entire moulding system. We are very confident that Fraunhofer IPK's research project will enable the process in micro and precision injection moulding to be holistically optimised, especially for optical parts," states Thümen. Apart from contract research, Fraunhofer IPK also conducts pre-competitive research projects to develop innovative concepts for tomorrow’s production, working closely with likeminded partners to transform innovations into marketable products.