Arburg machines getting smarter with Industry 4.0 integration

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Photo by Caroline Seidel Matthias Lang from Arburg, which is using Industry 4.0 to produce a bungee cord at Fakuma.

Smart, fast and efficient are three keywords associated with the Arburg machinery on display at this week's Fakuma trade fair.

The German injection molding machinery maker is showing two large hybrid injection molding machines at its stand: the Allrounder 1120 H and the Allrounder 920 H.

"The hybrid Allrounder 1120 H — shown at K 2016 for the first time — has enabled Arburg to extend its clamping force range by 30 percent to 6,500 kN (730 tons)," Gerhard Böhm, managing director of sales at Arburg GmbH & Co. KG, said in an email to Plastics News.

Customers are able to place orders for the machine during Fakuma, he added.

Arburg's Allrounder 920 H, which has a clamping force of 5,000 kN (550 tons), features an updated design complete with a "modern color scheme and shape," Böhm said. Both of the Allrounder machines also come with the new Gestica control system.

"The innovative Gestica [control system] features a high-resolution, full HD screen in 16:9 format, industry-compatible multitouch technology and one-click ergonomic hardware keys," he explained, adding that integrative operating gestures make the new system more intuitive and efficient.

For both machines, Industry 4.0 is enabling injection molding machines and the factories they're situated in to get even "smarter."

"Arburg is presenting elastic tension straps for the first time as a practical example for Industry 4.0 [at Fakuma]," Böhm said. "These are produced in different lengths and colors and with different end pieces from shot to shot, in accordance with customer requirements."

The company's remote maintenance tool and the ALS host computer system, based on OPC UA application protocol, are also on display. For ALS, Arburg is also presenting two modules: mobile maintenance and energy visualization.

"Industry 4.0 is not an 'off-the-shelf' product," Heinz Gaub, Arburg's managing director of technology and engineering, said in an email.

"A plastics processor does not have to set up a fully networked 'smart factory' overnight in order to launch Industry 4.0 in the company," he added. "Instead, it can develop its own strategy and approach to the solution, implementing it gradually."

In 1986, Arburg developed fully automated injection molding production as well as production optimization with a host computer system.

Photo by Caroline Seidel The Allrounder 1120 H from Arburg producing a folding stool at Fakuma.

Many other small- and medium-sized companies have already started this "journey toward Industry 4.0," Gaub said, by at least having a smart machine that can monitor, control and optimize its own performance in real time with connected sensors and actuators.

"Rising costs, efficiency and scheduling pressures, greater diversity with smaller production orders and increasing automation all lead to increasingly complex processes that should nevertheless remain easy to control," Gaub explained. "The integration of IT solutions plays a key role here."

For the packaging industry, Arburg is displaying its hybrid Allrounder 570 H. The injection molding machine is producing four in-mold labeling containers in roughly 1.9 seconds during Fakuma. The wall thickness of the containers is 0.32 millimeters.

Additionally, the company is moving forward on the qualification of materials and process stability with its Freeformer machine and Arburg Plastic Freeforming, its additive manufacturing technique for melting granulates.

"One of the great advantages is that the Freeformer is an open system, allowing the user to be independent of the specified settings," Susanne Palm, team manager of public relations at Arbug, said in an email. "It offers the option of performing a number of individual product and process optimizations and to qualify dedicated materials."

The Freeformer — developed specially for the APF process — can process standard materials such as ABS, nylon and elastic thermoplastic elastomer as well as high-temperature plastic, including polyetherimide, medical polylactic acid, polycarbonate approved for the aerospace industry and polypropylene.

On display, Arburg's Freeformer is processing standard polypropylene and a new water-soluble resin Armat-12 to produce functional cable clips.

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