HRS Flow/ Fakuma

Spotlighting custom-made hot runner solutions inline with Industry 4.0

| Author / Editor: / Briggette Jaya

Flex Flow technology is a solution for large and small applications, also difficult-to-process thermoplastics.
Flex Flow technology is a solution for large and small applications, also difficult-to-process thermoplastics. (Source: HRS Flow)

The focus at hot runner specialist HRS Flow's booth at Fakuma will be universal applications of its Flex Flow technology of servo-electric driven valve gate solutions to produce complex, high-quality parts in co-operation with its partners.

Parts on show produced with the hot runner solutions from Flex-Flow, jointly developed with global partners, range from technical parts for the automotive industry to very thin-walled laptop housing and ultra-light tool boxes. All these will show how Flex-Flow technology can individually control the pressures and flow velocities at each gate, making it an optimal solution for large and small applications as well as thermoplastics that are difficult to process, HRS Flow notes.

As the first step, for the integration in the injection moulding machine (IMM) as per Industry 4.0 requirements, the company will present the option of using a touchscreen of the IMM to control the Flex-Flow settings, which have only recently become available.

As of June this year, the Flex-Flow technology can be visualised via VNC (Virtual Net Computing) – displaying the control unit of the hot runner system on the touchscreen of the corresponding injection moulding machine and is thus completely autonomous in terms of settings and functionalities. As a result, the use of a second screen can be dispensed with, which also optimises the workplace ergonomically, while offering a smarter user interface.

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Flex-Flow One technology has been adopted to produce an automotive engine cover, in co-operation with tool specialist GK Concept and IMM manufacturer Yizumi. The system is programmed with an external Smart Interface, combining precision with a broad process window and cost efficiency. To produce the large-sized component, a 0.2-mm-thick aluminum foil is first inserted into the mould and punched into shape during the closing process. Subsequently, the foil is thermoformed during over-moulding with a glass fibre-reinforced polyamide using a Flex-Flow hot runner system and physical foaming technology. During this back injection phase, in-mould graining takes place, in which the fine texture of the mould is transferred both to the foil and the polymer surface. The resulting part combines lightweight with high-dimensional stability, low warpage and a premium surface without visible weld lines.

Flex-Flow technology can be visualised via VNC (Virtual Net Computing) – displaying the control unit of the hot runner system on the touchscreen.
Flex-Flow technology can be visualised via VNC (Virtual Net Computing) – displaying the control unit of the hot runner system on the touchscreen. (Source: HRS Flow)

Homogeneous pressure distribution in the cavity is key

Also, a Flex-Flow five-nozzle hot runner system used for the production of an automotive spoiler will be on show. A polypropylene (PP) filled with 3M’s hollow micro glass spheres enables weight savings of up to 15% compared to unfilled versions. Thanks to Flex-Flow technology, which ensures a more homogeneous pressure distribution in the cavity, the glass microsphere survival ratio is increased with even better distribution. The result is a lightweight component with no visible weld lines to meet high requirements for mechanical properties and surface quality.

Another lightweight automotive on exhibit is a centre armrest manufactured in co-operation with IMM manufacturer Krauss Maffei and toolmaker Proper Tooling in a multi-staged process. A load-bearing structure is created with a thin-walled, fibre-reinforced organo-sheet, using the fibre-form process. The structure is then over-moulded with PP and finally with a thermoplastic elastomer, to form a soft, finely grained visual surface. Injection moulding is carried out with two Flex-Flow hot runner systems with two (first phase) or three (second phase) hot runner nozzles. The servo-electrically driven, individually controlled valve pins ensure optimum cavity filling and enhance process reliability and cost effectiveness.

Other exhibits include a toolbox made of microcellular foam, characterised by its low weight.

At Fakuma, HRS Flow will be in Hall A2, Booth 2217.

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