Fakuma 2021 Smart process monitoring and solutions for micro injection moulding

Editor: Alexander Stark

The international full-range supplier of hot runner systems Ewikon, will be showcasing its novelties and product upgrades at Fakuma 2021. New developments include a control system that enables networked injection moulding production.

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The smart Control dashboard provides information on the current system performance at a glance.
The smart Control dashboard provides information on the current system performance at a glance.
(Source: Ewikon)

At Fakuma, Ewikon is presenting the second generation of the smart Control assistance system. Compared to the previous version, it offers new performance features and can now be fully integrated into the networked injection moulding production via OPC UA. In addition to the comprehensive monitoring of all relevant process data of the hot runner system, communication with the machine, peripherals and higher-level software systems is now also possible, and thus the recording and monitoring of all relevant injection moulding parameters.

An novelty is the optionally integratable Virtual Rheology function for live simulation of the melt flow in the hot runner system. It enables real-time calculation of shear rates and residence time based on the material and geometry data stored in the system for the respective application as well as the hot runner temperatures and injection parameters of the injection moulding machine recorded for the current shot. This offers the possibility of targeted process optimisation, especially when processing shear-sensitive or residence time-critical materials, thus guaranteeing optimum part quality.

The system can be integrated into company networks via the Ethernet interface. The browser-based user interface provides user-friendly visualisation of the data and enables worldwide availability and secure access via mobile devices without additional software installation. The first user level — the smart Control dashboard — provides information on the current system performance at a glance with an integrated productivity display and the most important temperature data of the system components. Detailed information can be called up at further levels. Depending on the requirements, smart Control is available in two versions. In the “Mould package”, smart Control is permanently assigned to a mould and monitors the injection moulding process over its entire life cycle. For this purpose, the system is supplied as a fixed component of a hot side or drop-in system. The “Machine package” enables flexible use of smart Control in injection moulding production cells. In this case, the system is supplied as a compact unit for installation directly on the injection moulding machine; for monitoring, a selection can be made between several moulds used on the machine.

For the micro injection moulding sector, the L2X-Mikro high-performance hot runner system has been expanded to include a compact valve gate version. This is available exclusively as a 4-drop manifold module with screw-in nozzles. The valve pins are actuated synchronously via a very compact synchronous plate design. As for the open version, the hot runner nozzles are equipped with direct heating and are individually controllable. This means that the system can be used not only for processing standard materials, but also without restriction for engineering plastics with narrow process windows. Depending on the material used, shot weights from 0.01 g per nozzle can be realized. The fully balanced manifold has an edge length of 59 x 59 mm. This reduces the total flow path length and the melt volume to be exchanged in the system. According to the manufacturer, this offers advantages when processing residence time-critical materials in applications with small shot weights. For use on small injection moulding machines, the system is only available as complete hot half in 4-drop version. The nozzle grid is 30 x 30 mm. In order to realize higher-cavity systems with standard moulds, several of the 4-drop valve gate modules can also be used in combination with a common synchronous plate and a bridge manifold. A 16-drop system can thus be produced with a compact mould size of 256 x 346 mm. Since the bridge manifold can be kept simple, the general advantage of short flow path lengths remains even with such a configuration, the company states.

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