Mould Components How Wirthwein Medical halves set-up times with a new multicoupling system
Wirthwein Medical, a system supplier for medical technology based in the Odenwald region of Germany, has been using Hasco’s quality standard mould units for many years now. With the help of the new multicoupling system Z8094ff, the set-up times for the production of measuring vials has been halved.
Wirthwein Medical develops and produces customised plastic components and systems using innovative technologies and processes. The company, which was founded 75 years ago by F.-A. Riegler, became known in the 1950s through the production of hair curlers for Goldwell and has been operating successfully in the field of medical technology since 1992. The company was taken over in 2005 by Wirthwein and is now producing, with a workforce of over 330, plastic systems for customers throughout the world with a focus on diagnostics, medical and pharmaceutical technology. The company offers its customers a complete and comprehensive service from a single source, starting with the initial product idea, through 3D-printed prototypes, design and development, to the manufacture and logistics.
Most of the products are manufactured in clean rooms to ISO Class 7. The portfolio includes products for DNA analysis and blood analysis, through to PCR tubes, which are used in laboratory diagnostics among other things and also for Covid-19 tests. The injection moulding and extrusion blow moulding operations are supplemented by a largely fully automatic assembly line. The majority of the injection moulding tools are built and serviced in the in-house mouldmaking department. Many of them are highly complex, and the range extends from multi-cavity moulds with up to 96 cavities to stack moulds for contact dishes.
Fast product development
For customised plastic components, Wirthwein Medical can, if requested, also manufacture several moulds in order to keep downtimes for cleaning and maintenance to an absolute minimum.
For example, the medical technology company produces measuring vials on 64-cavity moulds. Because these products run on several machines, a mould change is needed somewhere every 1.5 weeks for cleaning and/or maintenance. These cleaning intervals are necessary to ensure optimum product quality, because the vials are highly transparent and are evaluated optically in photometers.
Against the background of this frequent mould change, the Head of Production asked for support in optimising the set-up processes. “With a 64-cavity mould with 16 cooling circuits, this constitutes a very large number of hoses that have to be detached every time, then blown out and connected up again in the right position,” says Timo Reifenberger, Head of Applications Technology at Wirthwein Medical. “That takes at least 30 minutes per mould.”
Because Wirthwein has been using quality standard mould units from Hasco for many years already, it started looking for a multicoupling solution. “The inquiry came at precisely the right time for us,” explains Frank Minninger, Technical Sales Engineer at Hasco, “because we wanted to launch a product such as this at Fakuma 2021.”
Due to the pandemic, all the technical details were clarified and the required specifications discussed in several virtual meetings between the product development and sales departments of the two companies. As a result, the first functional samples of the multicoupling system were developed within a very short time, and were subsequently then thoroughly tested at Wirthwein and further optimised by Hasco. For process-related reasons, the customer needs an open cooling system that has to be blown out completely during the setting-up process. At the same time, Hasco presented its new clean break multicoupling system at Fakuma.
The innovative and unique systems enable the central connection of cooling circuits in a single step, and also offer numerous advantages in process optimisation. Set-up procedures can be carried out quickly and easily by hand without the risk of mixing up the cooling circuits and hoses. In the case of the vial production at Wirthwein Medical, the setting-up time was halved to just 15 minutes.
Central and reliable connection
“The new clean break multicoupling system from Hasco with a flat-sealing front surface allows particularly reliable and simple locking and also prevents the leakage of cooling media when decoupling,” explains Frank Minninger.
Thanks to the modular structure and the many new variants, it is not a problem to design individual configurations and integrate them into existing systems. 6, 12 and 20-point systems are available, and it is also possible to replace individual couplings without dismantling the hoses.
The multicouplings are available with a variety of different shut-off couplings and nipples. These include versions with inner and outer thread, Push-Lok or hose nipple.
In addition to the considerable saving of set-up times, Timo Reifenberger appreciates and commends in particular the improved ergonomics. It is, after all, a tedious job to connect and disconnect a large number of individual hoses, in some cases on both sides of the machine. It is now possible to connect the cooling circuits with just one lever operation, and the possibility of getting the hoses mixed up is excluded.
For future projects, in which the machines will all be in a clean room, Timo Reifenberger is considering taking advantage of the benefits of the clean break variant in order to save the work step of blowing out.
Overall, Timo Reifenberger praises the constructive and reliable cooperation with Hasco. “I believe that, in this project, both sides have benefitted from one another. We had a concrete need with an idea behind it. Hasco contributed to the solution and is constantly aiming to further develop its products. All in all, the project was a perfect win-win situation.”
Frank Minninger adds: “We are extremely grateful for the feedback and insightful ideas from customers such as Wirthwein. The requirements and wishes of our customers motivate us to always be innovative.”