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Increase in production with automation in injection molding machine

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Increase in production with automation in injection molding machine

  1. 1. 1 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION This chapter proves a review of the concept of injected parts and methods of parts developments. This chapter also relates how parts were produced by using specific tools that provided in the laboratory. Besides that, this chapter also includes the information about parameter involves and the material that used in this project. The injected parts also are chosen so that the sample can be taken nicely to do some analysis. 1.1 HISTORY OF INJECTION MOLDING Injection is a manufacturing process for producing parts from both thermoplastic and thermosetting plastic materials. Material is fed into a heated barrel, mixed, and forced into a mold cavity where it cools and hardens to the configuration of the cavity. After a product is designed, usually by an industrial designer or an engineer, molds are made by a mold maker or toolmaker from metal, usually either steel or aluminum, and precision-machined to form the features of the desired part. Injection molding is widely used for manufacturing a variety of parts, from the smallest component to entire body panels of cars. (Todd, 1994) Am injection molding machine, also known as an injection press, is a machine for manufacturing plastic products by the injection molding process. It consists of two main parts, an injection unit and a clamping unit. Injection molding machines can fasten the molds either a horizontal or vertical position. The majority of machines are horizontally oriented, but vertical machines are used in some niche applications such as insert molding allowing the machine to take advantage of gravity. The first man-made plastic was invented in Britain in 1852 by Alexander Parkes. He publicly demonstrated it at the 1861 international exhibition in London; calling the material he produced “parkesine.” Derived from cellulose, Parkesine could be heated, molded and retain its shape when cooled. It was, however, expensive to produce, prone to cracking, and highly flammable.
  2. 2. 2 In 1856, American inventor John Wesley Hyatt developed a plastic material he named Celluloid, improving on Parkes’ invention so that it could be processed into finished from. Together with his brother Isaiah, Hyatt patented the first injection molding machine in 1872. This machine was relatively simple compared to machines in use today. It worked like large hypodermic needle, using a plunger to inject plastic through a heated cylinder into a mold. The industry progressed slowly over the years, through a heated cylinder into a mold. The industry progressed slowly over the years, producing products such as collar stays, buttons, and hair combs. (U.S. patent, 1872) The industry expanded rapidly in the 1940s because World War II created a huge demand for inexpensive, mass-produced products. In 1946, American inventor James Watson Hendry built the first screw injection machine, which allowed much more precise control over the speed of injection and the quality of articles produced. This machine also allowed material to be mixed before injection, so that colored or recycled plastic could be added to virgin material and mixed thoroughly before being injected. Today screw injection machines account for the vast majority of all injection machines. In the 1970s, Hendry went on to develop the first gasassisted injection molding process, which permitted the production of completed, hollow articles that cooled quickly. This greatly improved design flexibility as well as the strength and finish of manufactured parts while reducing production time, cost, weight and waste. The plastic injection molding industry has evolved over the years from producing combs and buttons to producing a vast array of products for many industries including automotive, medical, aerospace and consumer products. (Douglas, 1996) 1.2 INJECTION MOLDING MACHINE For thermoplastics, the injection molding machine converts granular or pelleted raw plastic into final molded parts via a melt, inject, pack, and cool cycle. A typical injection molding machine consists of the following major components:  Injection system  Hydraulic system  Mold system  Clamping system  Control system
  3. 3. 3 Figure 1.1: Injection molding machine for thermoplastics. For the machine specification, the clamping tonnage and shot size are commonly used to quickly identify the size of the injection molding machine for thermoplastics. Other parameters include injection rate, injection pressure, screw design, mold thickness, and the distance between tie bars. The major equipment auxiliary to an injection molding machine includes resin dryers, materials-handling equipment, granulators, mold-temperature controllers and chillers, partremoval robots, and part-handling equipment. Injection molding machines can be generally classified into three categories, based on machines function which are:  General-purpose machines  Precision, tight-tolerance machines  High-speed, thin-wall machines 1.2.1 Injection system The injection system consists of a hopper, a reciprocating screw and barrel assembly, and an injection nozzle, as shown in Figure 1.2. This system confines and transports the plastic as it progresses through the feeding, compressing, degassing, melting, injection, and packing stages. Figure 1.2: A single screw injection molding machine
  4. 4. 4 I. The hopper Thermoplastic material is supplied to molders in the form of small pellets. The hopper on the injection molding machine holds these pellets. The pellets are gravity-fed from the hopper through the hopper throat into the barrel and screw assembly. II. The barrel As shown in Figure1.2, the barrel of the injection molding machine supports the reciprocating plasticizing screw. It is heated by the electric heater bands. III. The reciprocating screw It is used to compress, melt, and convey the material. While the outside diameter of the screw remains constant, the depth of the flights on the reciprocating screw decreases from the feed zone to the beginning of the metering zone. These flights compress the material against the inside diameter of the barrel, which creates viscous heat. This shear heat is mainly responsible for melting the material. The heater bands outside the barrel help maintain the material in the molten state. Typically, a molding machine can have three or more heater bands or zones with different temperature settings. IV. The reciprocating screw consist of three zones which are:  the feeding zone  the compressing or transition zone  the metering zone Figure 1.3: A reciprocating screw V. The nozzle It connects the barrel to the spure busing of the mold and forms a seal between the barrel and the mold. The temperature of the nozzle should be set to the material’s melt temperature or just below it, depending on the recommendation of the material supplier. When the barrel is in its full forward processing position, the radius of the nozzle should nest and seal in the concave radius in the supre busing with a locating ring. During purging of the barrel, the barrel backs out from
  5. 5. 5 the spure, so the purging compounds can free fall from the nozzle. These two barrel positions are illustrated below. Figure 1.4: Nozzle with barrel in processing position (a) and nozzle with barrel backed out for purging (b). 1.2.2 Mold system The mold system consists of tie bars, stationary and moving platens, as well as molding plates that house the cavity, spure and runner systems, ejector pins, and cooling channels, as shown in Figure 1.5. The mold is essentially a heat exchanger in which the molten thermoplastic solidifies to the desired shape and dimensional details define by the cavity. A mold system is an assembly of platens and molding plates typically made of tool steel. The mold system shapes the plastics inside the mold cavity (or matrix of cavities) and ejects the molded part. The stationary platen is attached to the barrel side of the machine and is connected to the moving platen by the tie bars. The cavity plate is generally mounted on the stationary platen and houses the injection nozzle. The core plate moves with the moving platen guided by the tie bars. Occasionally, the cavity plate is mounted to the moving platen and the core plate and a hydraulic knock-out (ejector) system is mounted to the stationary platen. Figure 1.5: A typical (three-plate) molding system
  6. 6. 6 I. Two plate mold The vast majority of molds consist essentially of two halves, as shown below. This kind of mold is used for parts that are typically gated on or around their edge, with the runner in the same mold plate as cavity. II. Three plate mold The three-plate mold is typically used for parts that are gated away from their edge. The runner is in two plates, separate from the cavity and core. 1.2.3 Clamping system The actual required tonnage depends on a number of factors, including part design, polymer viscosity, polymer flow length, mating mold surface condition, and mold construction. The mold should occupy approximately 2/3 of the platen area between the tie bars to prevent possible damage to the mold from “platen wrap-around” Using the minimum clamp force required to produce acceptable parts will reduce the center deflection of the mold. Figure 1.6 indicates mold cavity pressure with in thin walled parts and long flow paths for low to medium viscosity materials. Figure 1.6
  7. 7. 7 1.3 Parameters in injection molding machine The quality of molded part is greatly influenced by the conditions under which it is processed. See, for example, the process window shown in figure 1.7. As you lower the temperature, higher the pressure is needed to deliver the polymer melt into the cavity. If the temperature is too high, you risk causing material degradation. If the injection pressure is too low, a short shot could result. If the pressure is too high, you will flash the mold. Figure1.7: Process window shows the influence of temperature versus pressure 1.3.1 Temperature Range: 370 to 390°F (190 to 200°C) The optimum temperature profile depends on many variables, including machine capacity to shot size ratio, screw design, mold and part design, and cycle time. Generally, barrel temperature controllers should be of PID type, and set so the material melts gradually, with cooler rear zone and hotter front zone temperature. For vented barrel machines, a relatively flat temperature profile is recommended to ensure the polymer is melted by the time it reaches the vent zone reverse temperature profiles are used occasionally to compensate for improper screw design, to reduce machine amperage or torque requirements, and to compensate for machines with short L/D ratios. 1.3.2 Pressure The injection pressure is the pressure of the melt in front of the screw. The injection pressure should be low as possible to reduce the part internal stress. On machine, set the injection pressure to the machine maximum. The purpose is completely exploit the injection velocity of the machine,
  8. 8. 8 so that the pressure setting valve does not limit the velocity. Because the switch-over to holding pressure occurs before the mold is completely filled, no damage will be done to the mold. Figure 1.8 Resin/hydraulic pressure ration for a 30 mm screw 1.3.3 Injection volume When the process has stabilized (when the same parts are produced each time), adjust the switch-over position to 99 percent of filling. This will exploit the maximum injection speed in as large a part of the injection as possible. 1.4 Material used Many plastics are derived from fractions of petroleum or gases that are recovered during the refining process. For example: ethylene monomer, one of the more important feedstocks, or starting materials for plastics, is derived in a gaseous form from petroleum refinery, gas, liquefied petroleum gases, or liquid hydrocarbons. Although petroleum gas derivatives are not the only basic source used in making feedstocks for plastics, they are among the most popular and economical in use today. Coal is another excellent source in the manufacturing of feedstocks for plastics. From these basic sources come the feedstocks we call monomers. The monomer is subjected to a chemical reaction known as polymerization; it causes the small molecules to link together into ever increasingly long molecules. Chemically, the polymerization reaction gas turns the monomer into a polymer, and thus a given type of plastic resin.
  9. 9. 9 Table 1.1 Origin of plastics
  10. 10. 10 CHAPTER 2 Production Automation - Injection Molding There is no need to dwell on the challenges facing today’s injection molding industry, in the last couple of years, injection molders have made sizable capital investments to improve quality and efficiency in an effort to counter competitive pressures as well as rising material and labor costs. Now injection machines, advanced automation and inspection devices, to automated assembly machinery and sophisticated materials handling equipment have enabled molding plants to significantly increase output with a lower operation cost basis. As a result, they now enjoy the highest historical productivity rates. However, in spite of all these advances, the injection molding industry faces its biggest challenge yet. To further optimize efficiency, there is a need for an integrated approach that guarantees flawless execution from the conceptual stage of part design, to its high volume production, to its ultimate delivery to the customer. Unfortunately, the injection molding manufacturing process is a patchwork of disparate systems with which it is difficult to intelligently exchange data, making the planning, setup and ramp-up of new production lines time consuming and plagued by inefficient trial and error and fine tuning methods. 2.1 Set up, Optimize, Control and Monitor Once the part and the mold designs are optimized and the effects of the molding processes have been taken into account, the logical next step is to deliver optimal processing parameters to the primary equipment and other process controls in the manufacturing cell. Automating the setup process enables production to start more quickly and shortens the time required to determine and achieve the ideal process parameters such as shot size, injection speed, temperature and pressure settings. Used intelligently, design analysis simulation (DOE) results can provide appropriate initial conditions from which to begin the manufacturing process setup and downstream optimization and control tasks. The more complex the part, the material or the mold, the narrower is the processing window and the higher is the need for continuous
  11. 11. 11 monitoring and optimization during production. In a networked environment, monitoring and optimization can now be handled automatically from a single operator console in a central location, limiting operator interventions in the production cell to major equipment failures. 2.2 Optimal Temperature and Flow Production capacity and yield are ultimately determined by the speed, reliability and quality by which the melt flows from the machine into the mold. This is where advanced hot runner controls come in, as they assure that materials are kept in an optimal molten state until injected into the part cavity. This “final controls element” guarantees higher yields, reduced cycle times and better part quality. 2.3 How Are We Doing Today? Bringing production equipment into a networked environment does more than just extend the control and monitoring functionality. It provides access to real-time data that can be used for production monitoring, work order management, job scheduling, statistical quality control (SQC), Statistical process control (SPC) production scheduling, preventive maintenance, production reporting and part traceability. The instant access to the metrics that define an operation’s performance, give it the agility to quickly and confidently respond to changing market conditions and competitive pressures.  Can you schedule additional jobs to maximize your capacity?  How aggressively can you price your services?  Can you provide detailed production quality data and assure part traceability to your customers? Providing such a capabilities gives an output of effectively and efficiently.
  12. 12. 12 Figure 2.1 Todays manufacturing process
  13. 13. 13 2.4 The Knowledge Loop To accomplish all of the above fig 2.1, a system needs to be totally integrated and balanced. It has to be a “knowledge loop” that starts with the in-depth profiles of production capabilities and material characteristics that are used to optimally design a part and mold and determine a practical processing window. From there the information is used to control and monitor the optimal settings of the process equipment and the auxiliaries in the manufacturing cell. The knowledge loop is closed with the validated data serving as the source for future predictive modeling and design, implementing this knowledge loop requires a technology partner who understands the complex data interfaces needed to communicate with older as well as today’s state-of-the art equipment. Turning proprietary signals from a multitude of sources into a wealth of meaningful and usable information is invaluable. The knowledge loop needs to be extendable to upstream and downstream process. This can go from the basic hand-off or exchange of intelligent data between process entities to a superset of centralized control and monitoring functions that star with the supply management of raw materials, through automated assembly, and packaging. The ultimate goal to create a single continuum that is proactive in that it intelligently determines the fastest and most reliable process steps to produce a product, and reactive to predictably adapt to erroneous behavior, to expand the body of process knowledge and to document product genealogy and quality. 2.5 Manufacturing Optimization Even though design analysis solutions play an important role in this knowledge loop, the focus of this chapter is on the manufacturing optimization segment. Manufacturing solutions products comprise a complete suite of tools that can be used for the setup, optimization, and control of the injection molding process, as well as for the monitoring and monitoring-related tasks associated with injection molding equipment, as well as upstream and downstream auxiliary equipment. The primary objective of manufacturing optimization is to achieve and maintain the best processing conditions, resulting in higher part quality and more efficient use of machine time. In the next sections, we will cover several important aspects of manufacturing optimization and knowledge loop can help you accomplish them.
  14. 14. 14 Fig 2.2 manufacturing optimization 2.5.1 Process Setup Successful process setup requires an operator to determine a machine-mold-material combination of processing conditions to achieve acceptable quality parts. Proper process setup module eliminates the guesswork over process parameter permutations and instead provides an intuitive, systematic method for establishing the best combination of process parameters that produce good molded parts. This scientifically created process results in less time spent on setup and less material wasted on trial-and-error iterations. 2.5.2 Process Optimization After determining the combination of process parameters that will produce an acceptable quality part, it is important to further determine or verify a robust processing window. Knowledge loop process optimization module performs an automated Design of Experiments (DOE) that builds on the foundation established during the process setup phase. The technology allows users to further optimize the combination of processing parameters to determine a robust,
  15. 15. 15 “good parts” processing window. The Predefined DOE runs automatically, so no special expertise in statistical process control (SPC) is required for a machine operator to determine a robust, “good parts” processing window quickly. Once this robust processing window has been determine, the process is less likely to go out-of-control and produce out-of-specification parts. 2.5.3 Process control Assuming a robust processing window has been determined by using the process setup and process optimization modules, users can access knowledge loop process control module to maintain the optimized processing conditions. The process control module allows users to consistently maintain the production process, resulting in reduced reject rates, higher part quality, and more efficient use of machine time. 2.5.4 Hot Runner Process Control The right machine parameters and the wrong process control of the mold will result in slower cycles, parts out of tolerance, high scrap rates and constant headaches for processing technicians. It is imperative for the best part-price ratio that the core of a mold, the hot runner when used, be properly controlled. Altanium hot runner process controls are the industry’s first and only modular, small footprint solution that can support from one to 384 zones. Its unique modular control units can be used freestanding, mounted on the mold or mounted alongside, behind, or even inside the injectionmolding machine. With advanced technology for auto-saving, boost control, standby management, mold diagnostics and data collection, Altanium controls offer the highest degree of temperature control accuracy for existing and future low-mass nozzles, featuring user selectable phase angle or zero cross power control per zone, state-of-the-art “hall effect” current transducers and enhanced diagnostics and control software. The increased use of temperature-sensitive engineering plastics, hare-to-mold polymers, and co-injected materials demands the ultimate in temperature control to assure dimensional consistency, which is where Altanium hot runner controls come in.
  16. 16. 16 2.6 High Speed Process Monitoring and Analysis Once a robust processing window has been established and is in control, it is important to continuously monitor key process parameters to identify any trends in the process. Using collected data, process monitoring and analysis module analyze the manufacturing processes to uncover hidden or latent problems, as well as collect and archive the data for future part quality conformation. 2.6.1 Statistical process control Fundamentally, statistical process control (SPC) is a method of monitoring a process during its operation in order to control part quality during production, as opposed to relying on inspection to fine problems after the fact. SPC involves gathering and analyzing data about the process itself in near real time, so that necessary action can be taken. This is done in order to identify special causes of variation and other abnormal processing conditions, thereby brining the process under statistical control and reducing cycle-to-cycle part-to-part variation. Because of the nature of the injection molding process, it is ideally suited for implementing SPC methods. Therefore, a complete manufacturing solutions systems should include a method for performing various SPC tasks. SPC module can be used to apply SPC methods to the injection molding process. Some of its capabilities include:  Measure and store up to 50 parameters on every machine cycle and then perform typical SPC treatment of the data.  Activate alarms and part diverters when process limits are violated.  Display run charts to review process parameters and part attributes for up to 100,000 machine cycles.  Display histograms, X-bar and R charts, and scatter diagrams for additional analysis capability. These are just some of the SPC capabilities available to help injection molders improve their process and maintain greater control over it. 2.6.2 Statistical Quality Control Relative to injection molding, statistical quality control (SQC) is the application of statistical techniques to measure and evaluate the quality of the part or process. Within SQC, there is the
  17. 17. 17 concept of acceptance sampling, which is the application of statistical techniques to determine whether a population of items should be accepted or rejected based on a sample inspection. Furthermore, “quality measurements” associated with certain characteristics, such as part weight, part dimensions, part warpage and others, can be assessed. Any or all of these characteristics can be identified as either acceptable or not acceptable. In combination, the measurement of these characteristics results feedback and the correlation with SPC data offer valuable tools for injection molders who aim to achieve or exceed the highest levels of production quality, SQC module allows SQC data to be entered into the system and recorded in association with shotnumbered process data for correlation purposes in a statistical process analyzer tool. 2.7 Production Monitoring Technology Production monitoring is normally associated with tracking data such as part counts, number of good parts versus number of defect parts, defect causes, machine downtime, and machine efficiencies. Production monitoring module includes the previously mentioned features that allow for the tracking of production data, plus it has mechanisms to input scrap causes, downtime codes, job start/stop, lot changes, material consumption, and part quantity adjustment. This capability allows injection molders to measure and track their operations in real time, thereby enhancing critical decision-making. 2.7.1 Production Reporting Once a production or process monitoring system is in place, there must be a mechanism for extracting the data collected in a format that is easily communicated to those who require the information. This is accomplished using production reporting module, which provides the following capabilities:  View production process with graphic and tabular reports.  Report real-time status on every job on every machine.  Customize reports.  Create dozens of standard reports that summarize performance by job, machine, mold, and part number.  Graphically illustrate scrap and downtime using Pareto and pie charts.
  18. 18. 18  Easily and efficiently interchange information with various databases and other software packages, such as ERP/MRP systems. Production reporting is a valuable and necessary component of any process or production monitoring system as it is the mechanism for providing access to critical information in real time so that informed business decisions can be made. 2.7.2 Production scheduling As an injection molder increases the number of machines and molds that are scheduled to run in production, an automated production scheduling systems becomes a necessity. Without a production scheduling system, molders will ultimately delay or miss product ship dates. When it happens, the resulting lost time, additional expenses, and dissatisfied customer cost more than money, it costs their reputation. Production scheduler module provides fast job creation and efficient schedules. The ability to use previously collected job histories and job templates makes scheduling new job or job re-runs easy and efficient. The production scheduler module also allows users to adjust machine workloads to accommodate changes in production or delivery requirements while eliminating scheduling conflicts.
  19. 19. 19 Chapter 3 Injection molding Automation “Flexible automation is the key for the future of the plastics industry” Straight ahead. And efficient. As a liner robot (from Engel). That’s how to solve the automation tasks. The intellignet Engel viper linear robot is the solution for the many of the tasks. It is powerful, dynamic, stable and fast. It features maximum operation convenience. But the automation does not only think linear. It always see the injection molding process as the whole.That’s why we can always expect complete system solutions. Highly integreated system cells. Turn key. In which the individual system components such as the machine. Multiaxis industrial robots. Linear devices, camera tech-nology, tracing solutions and much more are perfectly coordinated. All this is in the interest of efficency. For premium parts quality stable process and increases overall productivity for injection molding production. 3.1 Growth Asia has made a significant contribution of this growth in revenue. A further reason is the successful launch of the energy-saving ecodrive option which has boosted the market share of tie=bar=less injection molding machines and of big two=platen machines. Today, half of the
  20. 20. 20 hydraulic injection molding machines delivered worldwide aare equipped with the servohydraulic eco drive which – depending on the machine type and application – bundling business. In particular with the automotive industry and the significantly increased demand for all-electric e-motion injection molding machines, 3.1.1 Plastic processing goes Milacron LLC is the argest manufacturer of injection molding machines in the western Hemisphere, particularly known for its medium to large sized injection molding machines. Products manufactured by these manchines range from automotive parts to surgical instruments to consumer goods such as cutlery, bucketlids, and cell phone housings. 3.2 Robotics and vision systems combine to improve injection molding processes Robotics and automted vision systems have been combined to provide innumerable benefits to manufcturing fcilities for a variety of operations, such as inspection, assembly, and pckaging. Vision Systems can provide the speed and accuracy that high volume manufactring facilities need that relies heavily on robotics is injection molding. For some parts, such as beverage bottles, manufacturing volumes are huge, and robotic systems significantly increase the speed of part handling. Manufacturing, and inspection, resulting in increased efficiencies and reduced operationl costs. Suppliers have developed complete systems of robotic hardwre, Vision hardwre and software, sensors, and analysis tools that can be easily deployed without requiring specialized expertise. 3.2.1 Complex Geometries of injection molded parts The injection molding process results in a 3-dimensional part that can often have complex geometries. Robotic systems rely on Vision hardware to identify the part, identify the orientation of the part, perform operations on that part, or move the part to a specific location. These operations can be challenge, because an injection molded prt is 3-dimensional and the robotic system opertions in 3D, while the imge created by camera is in 2D. For some injection molded parts, multiple cameras can be employed along with depth sensors to identify injection molded parts and provide the right instructions on the robotics.
  21. 21. 21 3.2.2 Robotics and Post-Mold Machining The injection molding process often leaves thin layer of plastic, called flash, along the part where the two halves of the mold came together, or around ejection pin points. This flash has to be trimmed away after molding. The location of the flash on the part is predictble, because it is limited to fixed points on the mold, so the trimming process can be performed by robotic systems. A robot arm welding a cold or hot knife can be used to trim the flash awy from the surface of the part , resulting in a smooth surface. Integrated vision systems can help the robotic arm:  Locate the part on the assembly line  Determine the orienttion of the part  Guide the robotic arm to the srat of a trimming curve  Guide the arm long a pre-programed curve to remove the flash The feedback from the vision hardware allows the robotic arm to remove the flash accurately and maintain the required tolerances in the part. 3.3 Purpose of utilizing automation  Quality  A thermal exchange process  Final quality of the injected product depends of the stability of the process  Process stability  Constant cycle time of production  Overall process control  Automated product removal  Produce more injected products with less time
  22. 22. 22 3.4 TYPES OF ROBOTS 3.4.1 Linear robots  Three-axis electrical motor drives:  AC servo or AC inverter/asynchronous motors and supplementary  rotary axes  Placed either on the fixed part or in the movable side of the injection  machine  Using grippers or vacuum suction  Maximum payloads typically up to 30kg  Reason of utilizing “Pick-and-Place” or Linear robots:  accurate motions  free of vibration  high acceleration and deceleration  precise insertion/removal of pieces  Secure picking and carrying of the injected products. Fig 3.1 linear robot
  23. 23. 23 3.4.2 Six-Axis robots Six degrees of freedom  Axis 1: located at the robot base, allows the robot to rotate from left to right. Rotate a full 180° range from the center point.  Axis 2:   Axis 3:   Axis 4: lower arm of the robot to extend forward and back-ward. vertical reach, allows the upper arm to raise and lower. aids in the positioning of the end-effectors or gripper, which rotates the upper arm in a circular motion moving parts between horizontal to vertical orientations.  Axis 5: allows the wrist of the robot arm to tilt up and down. This axis is responsible for the pitch and yaw motion.  Axis 6: a twisting motion of 360° rotation clockwise or counterclockwise direction in a circular motion, both to position end effectors and to manipulate parts. Greater flexibility and perform a wider variety of applications Fig 3.2 six-axis robot
  24. 24. 24 Fig 3.2.1 simple intergration of an industrial robot and cost-effective implementation of your six-xis robot application in medical technology particularly in combination with tie-bar-less injection molding machines and filter-fan units, all benefits are combined in compact production cell. In addition to the linear robots, the multi-axis industrial robots can also be fully integrated into the system philosophy – without a Euromap 67 interface. This is made possible by Engel easix. With this innovation the Engel RC 200 or CC 200 control unit can control the six rotational axes of industrial robots. The industrial robot is thereby programed with the Familiar and simple graphical instructions of the RC 200 control unit. The additional movement instructions for the industrial robot can be seamlessly integrated into the graphical user interface of the extended view. An operator who is able to prepare the sequences for linear robots can also quickly learn to program jointed arm robots. ENGEL customers are thus perfectly prepared to respond to the demands of the future. The trend towards a higher degree of automation is continuing. Fig 3.2.2 robo controlor
  25. 25. 25 3.4.3 3-Axis Robots Are used for automation on horizontal plastic injection molding machines(top entry applications) and operations requiring higher spped 3-Axis robots can be used for part picking, in mold decorating (IMD) and-mold labelling (IML), insert loading, stacking, palletizing inspection. 3-Axiz robots are simple to operate and maintain and minimize energy consumption. 3-Axis robots are redployable on various types and sizes of plastic injection molding machines within the robots payload and strength. Robotic Automation Systems integrates both Hahn Automation (GHS Automation / Geiger Handling) and Wittmann 3-Axis robots. Fig 3.3 3-Axis Robots 3.4.4 Scara Robots (Selective complaint Assembly Robot Arm) provide a circular work envelope with broad range of movement, allowing for added flexmbility. SCARA robots have a small footpring and can be built on a smaller scale. SCARA robots are typically employed for loading and unloading vertical injection molding machines, or to present a complement of inserts upstream of a 3-Axis or 6-Axis robot. Epson SCARA robots offer high spped, heavy payload, high precision, large work envelopes and fully integrated options. SCARA robots can be used for assembly in high tolerance applications. Robotic Automation Systems integrates both Epson Robots and Yamaha Robotics Scara Robots. Fig 3.4 scara robots
  26. 26. 26 3.4.5 Side Entry Robots Are single axis robots dedicated to a specific application. They offer extreme high speed for applications such as placing decorations / labels for in-mold decorating (IMD) / inmold labelling (IML) and part removal. Robotic Automation Systems integrates both Hahn Automation (GHS Automation / Geiger Handling) and Wittmann side Entry Robots. Fig 3.5 side entry robots 3.4.6 Servo Sprue Pickers Are simple pick-amd-place robotic devides used for sprue removal or part and runner separation in plastic injection molding automation. Servo Sprue pickers range in size to fit 15 to 300 ton plastic injection molding machines. The X and Y axis, and A rotation, are all servo driven for maximum flexibility and programmability. All adjustments are made from a hand held pendant for ease of use shile maintaining infinite positioning. Servo sprue pickers allow for pre-staging above the mold, which minimizes action time in and out of the mold. They are flexible allowing for deposit on both sides of the injection molding machines – runners out on one side and parts out on the other. Robotic Automation Systems integrates Hahn Automation (GHS Automation / Geiger Handling) servo sprue pickers . Fig 3.6 Servo Sprue Pickers
  27. 27. 27 3.5 viper The powerful linear robot maximum stability, impressive dynamics and maximum userfriendliness. The new Engel viper combines all of these things with ease. It saves weight with its innovative design using laser- welded steel sections and convinces users with a substan-tially higher load-bearing capacity. More efficiency due to intelligence. Clever software such as vibration control and mass identification, it automatically reduces structure-borne vibration, even with longer axis dimensions, and optimises its movements and dynamic values to achieve better efficiency. The impressive results: Ultra-fast cycle times and maximum productivity accompanied by low energy consumption. Fig 3.7 viper 3.5.1 Mass Identification Due to this patented technology the robot detects the working load automatically within a cycle. And adapts the dynamic values accordingly. Thanks to the dynamic model the Engel viper ensures a uniform mechanical load. Which means:  The robot moves faster when it has less to carry. Benefit to you: shorter cycle times and increased productivity.  The robot moves slower when it has more to carry than normal. This protects the mechanical components. Ensuring an even longer robot service life. 3.5.2 Vibration Control Thanks to this software, structure-borne vibrations are reduced. This substantially increases path and positioning accuracy. The positive consequence: shorter cycle times are possible. This software has been filed for patent.
  28. 28. 28 3.5.3 Viper series 3.5.4 Efficiency Control According to the motto “as fast as necessary – not as possible”, the robot optimizes the acceleration and speed values. And it minimizes robot waiting times.  Take-off starts “just in time”  Freely selectable waiting period in take-off position  Avoidance of unnecessary stress for mechanism and drive train  Assurance of a long service lice  Reduced energy consumption, resulting in up to 25% lower costs.
  29. 29. 29 3.6 Robot Control Unit Robot Control Unit = Machine Control Unit Since, injection molding machines and robots from a single source, full integration of the two control landscapes is guaranteed without the need for a Euromap 67 interface. The RC 200 robot control unit is integrated into the machine control unit CC 200 as a subsystem. Fig 3.8 robot control unit 3.6.1 Benefits  Simple operation: Uniform, concise and logical operation of the machine control, also for robot control  Single data management for injection molding machine and robot  Considerably increased productivity thanks to synchronized movements 3.6.2 Language It speaks all Languages A state-of-the-art control unit needs to keep on top of highly processes. While providing for quick and simple programming. The ENGEL RC 200 fulfils this requirement to perfection. It speaks the language of the machine operator as well as that of the system adjuster and programer. The robot control unit speaks the language of the system operator and adjuster In the so-called simple view the robot sequence is clearly and simply displayed in the form of a circle. The sequences are graphically visualized in chronological order on the cycle. In addition,
  30. 30. 30 the operator sees the current working position of the robot. By pressing one of the sequence icons the adjuster can adapt its function new sequence. 3.6.3 NO Programming Skills Needed Numerous predefined standard sequences in the control unit are available to the operator for different applications in automation. The adjuster does not require any programming skills. He simply selects a sequence and can adjust the process sequences contained therein to current requirements by exchanging options. All settings (positions, speeds and waiting times) required for the selected sequence are displayed in a clearly laid out setup page. This means simple automation tasks can be performed cost – effectively without additional programming personnel. Furthermore tooling rimes are reduced. 3.6.4 Ideal for System Operators and Adjusters: The viper wizard guides the system operator through the menu. He only needs to decide yes or no. Once all questions have been answered, he will be guided through the positions which must be set for the complete program sequence based upon his choice. The next step is that simple view As shown in the Figure below. Fig 3.9 easily operating Robot control unit
  31. 31. 31 If Complex control tasks are to be performed, the system programer can discharge them quickly and efficiently with the RC 200 in the extended view. The extended view offers the full spectrum of functions. The robots automation is displayed with graphic symbols. To simplify the view, instruction groups are combined into sequences. This produces a clear overview even of complex sequences. The zoom function is used to open up sequences and display all instructions of the respective sequences. Instructions to be inserted are simply selected from an extensive function list and placed at the appropriate position in the sequences. Parameters are set directly in the graphic display by processing the instruction graphic in the sequences. This enables even complex sequences to be configured in the shortest time. Fig 3.9.1 For programmers – extended view of the RC 200: the parameters a inserted directly into the Graphic display, so that even complex sequences can be quickly configured
  32. 32. 32 3.7 Turn Key Competence for system solutions Turn key. Highly integrated cells from one source. Whether multi-component injection molding, inmold labelling or insert technology: the trend towards integration of several process steps into a highly-automated production cell continues at a fast pace. Do you need complex, highly integrated production cells, in which several injection molding machines produce parts, linear robots interact perfectly with industrial robots and extensive processing steps such s quality control using state-of-the-art camera technology, selection and packing? The specialists at automation systems will handle the overall concept systems and implementation of your demanding projects. And they will ensure that all parts are precisely coordinated and mesh seamlessly into one another. In the service of efficiency. For premium parts quality, stable processes and increased overall productivity. Fig 3.10 Turn key
  33. 33. 33 Turnkey – door panel production at Dura Automotive in strakonice. Czech Republic: two large Engel duo 900 machines, each equipped with an Engel viper another. Between them are the units for finishing molded parts: a laser unit two plasma treatment units, two six-axis robots a foam unit and a hardening oven. Fig 3.10.1 clean room production of medical valve Extremely compact design of the overall system – innovative clean room production of a 2K medical valve. A six axis robot by a staubli removes the parts, using a camera to inspect and deposits them sorted by cavity. A highlight: the six axis robot control unit is fully integrated into the CC 200 machine control. Competence in lightweight construction: Steering column of PA, reinforced with organic sheeting (replaces steel and aluminium sheets): the production cell with a duo 500 pico, two linear robots and an industrial robot, as well as a laser cutting unit.
  34. 34. 34 Fig 3.10.2 Competence in lightweight construction 3.8 Handling automation process 3.8.1 Flexibility Flexibility is the ability to produce diverse parts with the same equipment. Greater flexibility also means moving toward more cells run by 6-axis robots and moving away from the fixed path of traditionally linear production ultimately, flexibility is all about software, which is one the core strengths. From the standpoint of production-flow planning, flexible multitasking within cells can speed overall line efficiency, while also creating possibilities for clever production solutions when shifting to new products. 3.8.2 Time-consuming reconfiguration Automation Industries particularly focused on making it easier to program, control and operate. Bringing to robotics what Apple brought to personal computers – userfriendliness. All man-machine interfaces are designed to be strongly visual, with god interactivity and feedback on what’s happening. Since launching of new industrial robot controller, the IRC 5. It features a highly visual Teaching pendant with a color touch-screen where even untrained users can quickly supports, what we call Multimove. This is the ability to coordinate the complex movement of two
  35. 35. 35 robots working rotates a part, another facing robot dispenses a gluing bead, IRC 5 can also run four robots simultaneously, which reduces space and equipment requirements. 3.8.3 Injection Molding of large tonnages Robots can be ordered preconfigured for communication between the robot and the injectionmolding machine. Since, work with both SPI and all Euromap protocols and provide a line of robots that integrate well with machines generating 50 to 5,000 tons of clamp force. For machines of 1,000 tons and up, also offer solutions with shelf-mounted robots situated on top of the molding machines for optimal parts handling. 3.8.4 How does more automation affect quality? Present quality requirements for injection molding might typically accept only about 50 ppm or less in waste. Which is a ratio that can only be achieved with the best automation. To help support this process there developed advanced vision systems for in-process quality control. The Dynamic model as mentioned previously also comes into pay here. Robotware Dispense, the Dynamic model’s optimal track to create a consistent bead by matching glue glow with robot speed for perfect bead consistency. This naturally saves money for customers in terms of programming time and waste reduction. 3.9 Reasons Why Automation is Vital for Injection Molding Today Precision and consistency in plastic injection molding are important quality considerations. Without having both, you cannot produce high quality injection molded parts. Measuring quality specifications using fully programmable, automatic CNC-driven quality inspection and measuring equipment to verify critical dimensions on first article inspections and production samples or runs enables accurate and reliable data every time. This takes the human element out of the equation and enables timely corrections in the production process. Using robotics is a necessary part of current injection molding techniques. Through continued development and application of automated processes and robotics, your plastic injection molder can deliver consistent results with greater speed, precision, and flexibility. Automation has been a worthwhile investment at crescent industries by incorporating multifunctional robots during the molding process and post molding process to deliver consistent plastic components.
  36. 36. 36 CHAPTER 4 INCREASED PRODUCTIVITY WITH AUTOMOTIVE PARTS The Automotive industry is one of the most important technological drivers for injection molding technology. Many components in the outer layer of an automobile or truck – the glazing, the interior, the safety and operation technology and the drive train – can be manufactured only using injection molding. Now procedures and combinations of these are the constantly growing demands of the automobile industry and of automobile drivers. Injection molding technology makes automobiles and trucks more comfortable, safe, economic and environmentally friendly. This integration ensures the highest quality and optimal manufacturing costs. 4.1 Automation technology – for quality and economy Engel’s Automation technology headquarters in Dietach/Austria provides a broad range of robots and peripheral unit equipment for handling molded parts on the injection molding machine. It also has feed systems for insert parts, robots for inserting and removing, as well as downstream equipment for processing, loading or storing. Process specific automation concepts for back injection of textiles or films, for over molding glass or for production in a cleanroom environment supplement the range of services. 4.2 Attractive and protective: Structural and exterior parts The first impression is the crucial one – especially for automobiles. The design freedom of plastic is utilized more and more in order to individually design the outer layer of vehicles.
  37. 37. 37 Injection-molded exterior parts meet very high demands in terms of the surface and the dimensional stability. Injection molding machines and technologies ensure the best surface quality and maximum economy, even for large molded parts and those with long flow paths. Fig 4.1 Exterior part 4.2.1 Strong in light-weight construction As an alternative to metal structures, light-weight fiber reinforced designs have increased in importance. Today, they can be essentially tailored to fit, and laid out according to the application and safely injection-molding using ENGEL fiber melt. 4.2.2 Large-scale exterior parts High-performance screws ensure a high degree of plasticization during plasticizing. Hydraulic or electrical screw drives that can work synchronously with the mold movements reduce the cycle time, increasing output and economy. Special-purpose screws provide minimal wear and a long lifetime despite the strong wear and tear in high-performance plasticization. 4.2.3 Automatic post processing Customer-and application-specific automation of the injection molding machine during the production of coating friendly bumpers and other exterior parts increases the economy of the overall system. Fig 4.2 Bumper production fully automated with six-axis robots
  38. 38. 38 Automation includes separation of the sprue, flaming to activate the surface, deburring, quality control and packaging of the component. 4.2.4 Injection-compression molding for increased quality In the case of injection molding large-exterior parts with long flow paths and large flow path to wall thickness ratios, injection-compression molding is recommended to safely fill the molded part, and to cleanly mold the surface and to avoid internal stress. Injection-compression molding results in highly precise parts with a high cost efficiency. Fig 4.3 Integrated mold change systems reduce the set-up times, increase the flexibility of the machine and increase the utilization Fig 4.4 ENGEL duo compounder for preparing and injection molding long glass fiber-reinforced plastics 4.3 Wheel-well liners Wheel-well liners and cover strips at the engine compartment should have noise-reducing properties. These are attained by injection molding specifically modified polymers or by over molding textile material. By combining the ENGEL combimelt multi-component technique and the ENGEL tecomelt back injection technique in a single injection molding machine, noise-
  39. 39. 39 optimized products that can be totally adapted to customer requirements in terms of geometry, mounting elements and acoustic properties, are produced in a single operation. Fig 4.5 Truck wheel-well liner with acoustic optimization 4.3.1 Special-purpose screw units for gentle preparation Single-screw systems for long glass fiber-reinforced granulates (LGF) permit processing on standard injection machines. Using ENGEL fiber melt technology on the ENGEL duo large-scale machine. It is possible to produce highly stressable structural elements with a lower investment in production technology. Melt preparation with optimized screw unit geometries reduce the shear load of the material, providing optimum embedding and distribution of the long reinforcing fibers in the polymer. 4.3.2 Individual combination of recipes The injection molding of specific material recipes requires compounding and injection molding in a special-purpose machine: the ENGEL duo compounder. With this machine. Which operates in two stages, nearly any mixture-such as those with long glass fibers-can be produced. With the ENGEL duo compounder, the processor can optimize his variable costs for materials independently of a supplier. Fig 4.6 Fiber reinforced part Structural elements with hybrid technique In the hybrid technique, sheets are inserted into the mold and over molded with plastic to reinforce it. Engel provide their own automation solutions for inserting and removing the sheets. The highly precise, self-learning mold protection detects deviations on the inserted part, thus
  40. 40. 40 providing the highest level of safety from mold damage and ensuring operational safety and uptimes of the entire plant. Fig 4.7 Fully automatic production plant for structural parts with hybrid technique A-, B- and C-columns The ENGEL combimelt multi-component technique integrates assembly, optical and sealing elements in a single operation. Eliminating sink marks and ensuring the best possible surface quality, impact-absorbing column elements can be fully over molded with a second plastic in order to attain can be fully over molded with a second plastic in order to attain highly reflective surfaces. Furthermore, an additional TPE component seals the chassis and absorbs vibrations. Fig 4.8 A-column, manufactured by Dura using ENGEL combimelt three component technique 4.4 Glazing and light engineering Panes of transparent plastics, mainly of polycarbonate, are not heavy and provide designers a great deal of freedom. Today, complete glazing systems of plastic integrate numerous functions and lower system costs.
  41. 41. 41 Lighting engineering, which is now based more than ever on plastics, has the greatest potential. The classic multicolor technique is supplemented by the use of modern LED technology and the integration of sealing functions. More and more, optical and glazed parts in automobiles are being made of transparent plastics instead of glass. On the one hand, injection-molded plastic parts – due of the fact that several colors can be combined without problems – provide increased design freedom; on the other hand, they are significantly lighter, thereby lowering the fuel consumption and CO2 emission of vehicles. Increasing demands of glazing and lighting engineering also raise the demands in production technology and the production environment. Therefore, many glazed parts are injection molded machine-related precautions, such as undirected tie-bars on ENGEL injection molding machines, provide for very low soiling tendencies. Fig 4.9 Rear window of a Chevrolet Blazer 4.4.1 Glazing using plastic Specific equipment for injection molding glazings is available on the dual-plate ENGEL duo large-scale machine. The compression packages BASIS, PROFI and EXPERT are highly precise special compression programmes with which large-scale molded parts can be injection molded with especially low stress. This ensures that the optical properties are constant over the entire surface of the molded part. Fig 4.10 Glaze melt for 2K panorama windows
  42. 42. 42 4.4.2 Compact machines for large parts Compared to standard two-component machines, the machine concept of an ENGEL duo combi M with rotary plate technology provides a reduction in the clamping force requirement and in the investments in machine technology. Furthermore, both the clamping force control and the process control are simplified because the injection molding units. Which lie opposite of one another in the center of the machine axis, cause centric swelling forces. This results in the largest possible component in relation to the size of the clamping unit. 4.4.3 Tie-bar-less technology for maximum freedom The tie-bar-less design principle of the ENGEL victory and e-motion small-and mid-scale machines provide very easy access to the mold installation space and high flexibility in the mold dimensions due to the great rigidity of the clamping unit. Last but not least, the tie-bar-less clamping unit simplifies the adaptation of the clean-room technique using the mold. 4.4.4 Gentle plasticization for faultless melts In order to ensure that molded parts of transparent plastics such as PMMA and PC always have the highest optical quality, ENGEL provide screws with special geometries and distinct check valves. These gently prepare the melt and prevent the formation of so-called black spots. 4.4.5 Integration of décor and function Engel tecomelt in-mold decoration permits the integration of functional elements. Such as antennae or heating coils, in glazing elements. Furthermore, back injection of transparent firms is an alternative to a scratchproof coating using varnishing. Fig 4.11 System for sheathing glass windows at AGC
  43. 43. 43 4.5 Over molding Windows Mineral windows can be over molded with thermoplastics or elastomers in order to provide a sealing and assembly function. The single-step process in injection molding machines with a horizontal or vertical clamping unit reduces the assembly effort and reduces costs. In its complete machine program. Automation provide a tailor-made, compact production solution for every size of window, every over molding material and every process-related requirement. As ENGEL machines can be plasticizing units for both elastomers and thermoplastics, they provide the flexibility of changing the injection unit based entirely on customer requirements. The use of the sensitive mold protection system auto protect reduces glass breakage and rejects while increasing the up-times and productivity of the over molding system. Fig 4.12Over molded stationary side window for a Mitsubishi automobile Fig 4.13 Tie-bar-less injection molding machine with clean-room module for the injection molding of automobile diffusing lenses at ZKW Slovakia
  44. 44. 44 4.6 Diffusing lenses Diffusing lenses for headlamps have the highest requirements regarding optical quality, lack of distortion and surface properties. Due to their limited size, they are produced using classical injection molding and not using injection-compression molding. 4.6.1 Highest melt quality due to special non-return valve In this application, ENGEL screws, with their special geometries and distinct check valves, ensure gentle material preparation and avoid the formation of “black spots”. After the diffusing lenses are injection molded, fastening elements are often molded on using ENGEL combimelt. Fig 4.14 Diffusing lens for the BMW 3 series, produced by ZKW Slovakia Fig 4.15 4x multi-component mold on an ENGEL combimelt machine with rotary table 4.7 Rear lights Multicolor automobile tail lights are produced using the multicolor ENGEL combimelt technique in multiple molds on large-scale ENGEL duo machines with integrated rotary tables.
  45. 45. 45 Any arrangement of up to four injection units optimally adapts the machine to customer requirements. 4.7.1 Fiber optics and LEDs The production of fiber optics and light-emitting diodes poses special requirements in terms of the lack of stress and on surface quality. Highly precise fully electric injection molding machines, such as the ENGEL e-motion with its compression function, meet these high demands. Combined with variothermal mold tempering, even complex geometries and lens effects can be easily provided at optimum costs. 4.7.2 Reflectors Reflectors in lamps require a high surface quality so that they can have very specific properties after metallization. This requires precise molding, if necessary using the ENGEL gas melt gas injection technique to avoid sink marks. Fig 4.16 Reflector made of polyether imide (PEI) for an automobile dual headlamp that will subsequently be enhanced To produce reflectors from thermoplastics that are resistant against high temperatures, special screw units provide a long operating life due to low wear. In order to injection mold reflectors made of thermosets, ENGEL BMC injection units are designed specifically for processing wet polyester. 4.8 Decorative and of high quality: Panels and interior parts A large variety of plastic components can be found in a vehicle interior. Dashboards and consoles hold countless functional elements and have a pleasant look and feel. This also applies to door and pillar panels that hold airbag systems for protection against head-on or side impact, requiring precisely defined characteristics.
  46. 46. 46 Door panels cover power window systems, seals, speakers and cables, and their surfaces have a high-quality look and feel. Technologies such as ENGEL tecomelt and Dolphin provide comfort and safely in automobiles. Whether you need the compact injection molding of panels or interior parts, back injection using soft foam films, the transfer of injection molded structures in a polyurethane shaped foam plant or the injection molding of highly stressed structural parts and load-bearing elements from long glass fiber-reinforced plastics using the inline compounder. ENGEL provide all single-stage processes on a multitude of injection molding machines in economic production cells with a high degree of automation. Fig 4.17 Instrument panel for pickup truck molded in two-component technology by Visteon US on an ENGEL duo combi M machine 4.9 Dashboards While dashboards of economy cars are usually made using standard injection molding, a multitude of ENGEL special purpose procedures is used for soft or decorative surfaces in vehicles with higher requirements. Fig 4.18 Dashboard support made of glass fiber-reinforced plastic 4.9.1 Fit for just-in-sequence In the case of the injection for soft foam film backings in the ENGEL tecomelt procedure. It is possible to switch the color or surface structure from cycle to cycle, as is required in just-in-
  47. 47. 47 sequence production. ENGEL automation solutions for a corresponding injection molding machine makes such a production job rational and inexpensive. 4.9.2 Dashboard supports A dashboard support made using ENGEL fiber melt has the required combination of strength, rigidity, and the required resistance against impacts. Weight optimization can be attained using a combination of coinmelt compression technology. 4.9.3 Dolphin: wide range of properties in a single operation As the most up-to-date alternative to established technologies, ENGEL offer the singe-stage Dolphin procedure. Here, ENGEL use the combimelt technology to enhance a compact support with a foamed soft component. The ENGEL combi M machine is used here. With two horizontally opposite injection units and an integrated horizontal rotary table, the polyester-based TPE is foamed directly on the support, which was made immediately beforehand from glass fiber reinforced PBT. Cycle for cycle, a part ready for installation exists the injection molding cell. Fig 4.19 All-thermoplastic dashboard, injection molded in one operation using Dolphin As it is a single-step procedure. Dolphin is more economical than established processes, requires less space and can produce recyclable all-plastic dashboards in a single operation. 4.10 Column panels Today, textile-decorated column panels are produced by back injecting textile structures in the injection mold-usually on mid-sized injection molding machines. During the fully automatic insertion and securing of the textile cuts, the tie-bar less clamping units of the ENGEL victory machine series provides the unique advantage of access to the mold without any obstacles at all. Robots and grippers can use the entire available space and are not inhibited by tie-bars; molds can be changed quickly and easily. This ensures shorter cycle times and improved economy.
  48. 48. 48 Fig 4.20 Production of back-injected column panels on a tie-bar-less ENGEL injection molding machine lntier head inserts a dual gripper textile cuttings in the mold and removes the finished parts 4.10.1 Use of entire mold fixing plates for highest degree of economy As back injection occurs at relatively low pressures in the first place, the entire surface of the mold fixing plate can be used for bulky molds on tie-bar-less machines. Compared to normal machines the entire surface of the mold fixing plate can be used for bulky molds on tie-bar-less machines. Compared to normal machines with tie-bars, tie-bar-less injection molding machines take full advantage of their higher production efficiency during back injection. Fig 4.21 Back-injected panels for the A-, B- and C-columns of the Audi A4, produced at Magna Intier 4.11 Door panels The ENGEL duo series is used for large door panels. The Significance of compression increases with larger molded part surfaces and longer flow paths. The ENGEL injection compression programmer protects the material during injection, permitting very low clamping forces. Platen parallelism control ensures a uniform wall thickness distribution over the entire surface of the molded part, as well as minimal mold wear.
  49. 49. 49 Fig 4.22 Complete interior door panel of the BMW 6 series, produced by back-pressing decorative soft foam film material Very large parts with textile decoration that are produced in low numbers can be made on injection molding machines with a vertical clamping unit in the ENGEL tecomelt procedure. Here, the melt is inserted into the open mold using injection units that can be moved in three dimensions and is gently pressed onto the textiles at a very low internal pressure. In this technique, significantly simpler and less expensive molds can be used without a hot runner, providing an economic advantage for low and mid-sized batch sizes. 4.11.1 Speaker covers Low-viscosity, easily flowing plastics are usually used to precisely shape, gird-shaped speaker covers with many delicate holes. Fully electrical machines such as the ENGEL e-motion provide sensible process control: they precisely maintain the tight processing window, provide the best surface shape and prevent over molding and burr formation. If a molded part gets stuck during removal from the cavity, the reactive mold protection of the ENGEL machines, with its numerous sensitive pins, protects the mold from damage, which could be expensive. 4.11.2 Map pockets on the insides of doors Map pockets on the insides of doors also usually have a thick-walled area that can be shaped using gasmelt. Fig 4.23 Production system for large-scale, textile-decorated parts using ENGEL tecomelt technology
  50. 50. 50 4.12 Door handles Thick-walled molded parts such as door handles are often made with the ENGEL gasmelt gas injection technique. This technology maintains the post-injection pressure longer than in conventional injection molding, thus ensuring well-shaped surfaces and molded parts with low mold shrinkage and high dimensional stability. This is a requirement for subsequent metallization or electroplating, which would make surface defects very apparent. Fig 4.24 Arm rest for front doors of the Mercedes A class, made by Johnson Controls using the Dolphin procedure 4.12.1 Arm rests The option of the Dolphin procedure for making panels entirely with thermoplastics instead of with the film back injection method will become more popular, not least because tight radii can be executed better than with the back injection method. Likewise, the significant logistics and post-processing costs that are usual in the most common soft foam films are not necessary. Fig 4.25 Two-component machine with integrated bar code printing
  51. 51. 51 4.13 Airbag covers Airbags covers must have specific break-open properties during a crash, but must also perfectly adapted to the look of the vehicle interior. ENGEL machine, procedural and automation technologies ensure the process stability required for this. 4.13.1 Stability in the process – safety for the passengers Various options in the ENGEL CC 200 machine control unit and the modular ENGEL efactory software solution analyse and document all relevant process parameters. Fig 4.26 Airbag cover for the VW Tiguan, manufactured by TRW using the ENGEL foammelt technology and MuCell® physical foaming Fig 4.27 Fully automatic production system for airbag covers of BMW models at HTP 4.13.2 Support structure for backrests A support structure that has been invisibly integrated into the seat and that has been made using the ENGEL insert vertical machine represents one of the most important transitions from the driver to the vehicle. The movable structure of plastic-over molded metal rods is manufactured in an injection molding cell. The ENGEL combimelt technology is used to combine the desired rigidity with excellent antifriction properties.
  52. 52. 52 Fig 4.28 Metal rods over molded with plastic form the “backbone” of an automobile seat 4.13.3 Decorative trim and backlit apertures Backlit apertures with a day/night design and decorative trims that usually have an limitation wood, carbon or aluminium design are produced using in-mold decoration. As is the case with textile decorations, the decoration or structure can be changed cycle to cycle in the ENGEL foilmelt procedure, enabling fully automatic just-in-sequence production. Fig 4.29 Decoration trim with wood look 4.13.4 Vent grilles Air vents have gone down in the history of injection molding as the “classic” movable part in multi-component molding. Today they are usually produced in multiple molds. Depending on the dimensions of the mold part and the number of bars, various injection molding machines serve as the basis of multi-colored component injection molding: ENGEL victory, ENGEL e-motion. Both can produce the vents in a single operation. Climate control vents for the VW Golf and Audi A3 are produced in a 4+4 mold by combining ENGEL foammelt strucrural foam molding with the ENGEL combimelt multicomponent technology to form a sealing lip. Fig 4.30 Vent grille with movable air guides
  53. 53. 53 4.14 Reliable and safe: Safety, clamping and operation technologies Not only active and passive safety equipment, such as ABS, ESP, seat belts, headrests, seat belt tensioners and airbags, consist mainly of injection molded components today. Driver assistance systems, steer-by-wire and break-by-wire systems also require plastics. Particularly in the case of these safety-relevant parts, with their sensors, switches and plugs, the automobile manufacturer requires documentation of the production data for reproducible product quality. Both mechanical as well as electrical and mechatronic components of safety equipment are produced by over molding insert parts in the ENGEL insert vertical machine. The self-learning and highly sensitive ENGEL auto protect mold protection program provides the lowest possible mold wear. This reduces maintenance costs to a minimum. 4.14.1 Seat belts, belt buckles, belt tensioners and belt deflectors Safety elements from over molded metal parts are usually produced on small horizontal or vertical injection molding machines. Modular automation systems for entire families of parts ensure the fastest possible adaptation capability with replaceable mold cavities: molds do not have to be removed. Machine and automation technology that are adapted to one parts, keeping insertion and removal times to a minimum. Fig 4.31Over molded belt buckle 4.14.2 Lock housings Lock housings are complex, highly precise functional parts whose production can combine a number of technologies. In the insert vertical machine, metallic parts are inserted into the mold and integrated into the injection molded part as function elements. The required seal is economically implemented either as a thermoplastic or elastomer component using ENGEL combimelt multi-component technology combined with the elast rubber machine within an
  54. 54. 54 overall system. Furthermore, foammelt structural foam molding makes low-distortion, weightoptimized thermoplastic structures possible. Fig 4.32 Lock housing with dual-component technology 4.14.3 Circuits and connectors Electric and electronic safety elements from thin, over molded metal parts are usually produced on small horizontal or vertical injection molding machines as well. As is the case with mechanical safety parts modular automation systems for entire families of parts ensure the fastest possible adaptation capability: with replaceable mold cavities molds do not have to be removed. A large rotary table diameter permits the use of several work-stations that can also be equipped with different molds. 4.15 Injection molding of elastomers and liquid silicon As classic elastomers, liquid silicons (LSR) or thermoplastic elastomers (TPE), runner like materials can be used in many components for sealing purposes or as noise and vibration dampeners. A complete range of vertical and horizontal injection molding machines to process cured elastomers. Plasticizing units to process ribbon-shaped prepared rubber compounds according to the first-in first-out principle are marketed as elast. Screw or piston plasticizing machines, as well as plasticizing and conveying technologies for liquid silicon are specified as lim. Important application for classic elastomers in automobiles are engine and body supports, seals for windows, media lines and electrical systems as well as bellows. Insulation and sealing components for electrical plugs as well as sealing rings and sealing membranes made of LSR provide especially high resistance against heat and cold, an excellent ageing behavior and very good resistance against weather.
  55. 55. 55 4.15.1 Skids and guide rails Combimelt unites the optimum sliding properties of polyoxymethelene (POM) with the high rigidity of polyamide (PA) to form a precise component with defined friction properties for the highest possible operating comfort. In the case of window guide rails, the TPE component provides optimum positive damping between the window pane and the POM guide element. Fig 4.33 Guide skid 4.15.2 Switches and buttons Switches and buttons with functions and a label or icon are produced using the ENGEL combimmelt multi-component technique. For example, a 130-tone ENGEL victory machine with an ENGEL ERC 63 parts removal robot can produce switches of polyamide and two POM types in 4+4+4 mold. The functionality of flexible plastic parts is provided by cost optimized assembly injection molding. Fig 4.34 Switches for automobile electrical systems using three component technology 4.15.3 Parking brake levers ENGEL combimelt combines a comfortable look and fell with high-quality mechanical properties. Large molds with low clamping force requirements-the tie-bar-less ENGEL victory machine is predestined for such injection work. Fig 4.35 Parking brake levers
  56. 56. 56 Fig 4.35.1 Production of automobile parking brake levers in a multiple mold 4.16 Airbag igniters The injection molding procedure is also used to manufacture pyrotechnic components to protect passengers and pedestrians. To do this, the pyrotechnic material is over molded directly on a fully electrical tie-bar-less precision ENGEL e-motion machine. The machine increases production by reducing the cycle time due to optimum conditions for automation. It provides the injection precision and mold protection required for working with highly explosive material. Fig 4.36 Explosive capsules manufactured by Hirtenberger 4.17 Ventilation and air-conditioning technology The pleasant interior atmosphere of the vehicle is a major convenience factor. Actuators and controls, compressors, and heat exchangers, along with air baffles, air baffle controls and vents rely on a large number of plastic parts that all need to as light and compact as possible. Therefore, many components are weight-optimized and foamed using ENGEL foammelt technology.
  57. 57. 57 4.17.1 Electric engine supports Drive elements should neither produce noise nor transfer oscillations or vibrations to other structures. Therefore, they are acoustically insulated and mechanically decoupled. In a holder for a blower motor, the mounting point-over molded with TPE using ENGEL combimelt-dampens vibrations and thus also the emitted noise. Fig 4.37 Receptacle for a Valeo electric motor using two-component technology 4.17.2 Housing parts, air baffles and fan impellers As the market leader for the mucell physical foaming procedure. ENGEL have successfully produced a number of components. In the case of housing parts for the rear climate control system in the Mercedes - benz s-class, developed and produced by behr, ENGEL foammelt structural foam molding results in an improved molded part quality at a reduced cycle time. Fig 4.38 Reduced-weight fan impeller using MuCell® technology Fig 4.39 Valeo air flap with sealing function using two-component technology
  58. 58. 58 4.18 Plastic engine components There is an increasing trend towards manufacturing engine components and engine-related subassemblies from plastics. Today, custom-built injection moldable plastics are designed to withstand high operating temperatures and for contact with fuel, oil, coolant and brake fluid. As a result, new components with very high performance and low weight are continuously being developed for very tight spaces in the engine compartment. The range of applications extends from decorative cylinder head hoods to suction pipes and suction modules, plugs for the electrical systems and parts of the fuel systems to flaps and valves for head management and climate control. More and more, new production solutions with ENGEL machines and technologies are replacing metal parts with injection molded ones of plastic. 4.18.1 Engine covers Although they are purely design parts, engine covers are subject to high temperature stresses. Therefore, they are injection molded from glass fiber-reinforced plastics. Design or sealing elements often require the use of the ENGEL combimelt multi-component technology. The high process capability of ENGEL injection molding machines permits the production of high-quality surfaces that permit refining not only using hot compression or varnishing, but also with electroplating. Fig 4.40 Decorative hood for a VW automobile 4.18.2 Valve lids This valve lid of glass fiber-reinforced polyamide is used for Audi engines. It is manufactured on an ENGEL duo with a clamping force of 700 tonnes.
  59. 59. 59 Fig 4.41 Valve lid for an Audi engine 4.18.3 Air intake manifolds In compact injection molding on a 1500 tonne ENGEL duo large-scale machine, the parts of an air intake manifold are made of PA66-GF; these parts are then welded together. Variable mold tampering achieves an optimum mold wall temperature, which ensures the tight tolerance range for the component geometry, as is necessary to weld half bearings. The use of group mold ensures uniform manufacturing conditions for the two individual parts that are to be subsequently welded together. Fig 4.42 Air intake manifold for an 8-cylinder engine, manufactured by Mahle 4.19 Air intake flaps In the production of air intake flaps, ENGEL demonstrate that the combination of the twocomponent technique and multicomponent molding attains the highest possible technical level: two connected injection molding machines produce a set of air intake flaps with ready-to-mount flap systems for V6 and V8 engines using multi-component molding. Complete assembly and a 100% test.
  60. 60. 60 Fig 4.43 Switching flaps manufactured by Schneegans 4.19.1 Pick & place and over molding In the first 300-tonne ENGEL victory combi injection molding machine, the body is first made of PA46-GF 15 in a 2+2 mold: after pick & place using a linear robot, this is over molded with PPS in the second mold position. The robot of the second ENGEL victory 130 combi injection molding machine picks up these set of two and positions them in the first injection station of the mold, where a lever of the same PA is molded. After pick & place, a rubber seal is vulcanized onto the flaps. Fig 4.44 Tumble flaps manufactured by Schneegans 4.19.2 Easy access of the mold Advantage of ENGEL victory: the design of the tie-bar-less clamp unit provides increased space in the mold mounting are for complex two-component injection molds and the overhanging end of arm tooling of the robot. 4.20 Support for air intake controls in a turbocharger Temperature stresses, media effects and a low idling drag require vulcanizing rubber to be used as a sealing element. In order to manufacture this support, ENGEL combined the dualcomponent processing of rubber and thermoplastic in a single mold that has both a hot area and a cold area using thermal separation. The two component are connected without any bonding agent.
  61. 61. 61 Fig 4.45 The thermal separation of thermoplastic and elastomer in the same mold permits the production of air controls at KBS 4.21 Suction pipe of NBR/HNBR The combination of an ENGEL elast rubber injection molding machine with the most upto-date robot technology resulted in a one-of-a-kind suction pipe production cell for the automobile industry at AR-TEX spa in Italy. The two machines can be connected or they can produce fully automatically, independently of one another. The heart of the system is the highdemand molded part removal system. Only the optimum interplay of a gripping function, sufficient compressed air and the part removal system, which is based on the movement of a human hand, permits to be pulled off the core without damage. Fig 4.46 A six-axis robot operates two ENGEL elast rubber injection molding machines at AR-TEX, who manufacture suction pipes for the automobile industry 4.22 Oil dipsticks, media pipes Spatially bent oil dipstick guide pipes made of PA66-GF are manufactured using the ENGEL watermelt water injection technique. Even media lines with branchings and several layers can be produced economically, fully automatically and quickly in a single operation with a combination of ENGEL combimelt and ENGEL watermelt. Although glass fiber-reinforced
  62. 62. 62 plastics are used, the pipes have a smooth interior surface. Lines for coolants also have a mediaresistant inner layer. Fig 4.47 All-plastic oil dipstick, produced by Schneegans 4.22.1 Increased precision due to integrated piston unit ENGEL are the first provider to integrate a water injection unit with piston injection in the injection molding machine, namely in the machine frame below the clamping unit, thus saving space. Thanks to reduced pressure losses, this mechanical and control-related integration provided more precise controllability and better reproducibility over conventional system. 4.23 Oil pans The first truck oil pan made of plastic, for the Daimler Actros truck with a V6 engine, was manufactured on a vertical machine ENGEL insert using fiber-reinforced polyamide PA66-GF35. Compared to the classic tin variant, the plastic oil pan has significant weight savings. Fig 4.48 Oil pan using fiber-reinforced polyamide PA66-GF35 4.24 Inlet water headers Highly complex functional parts for the engine compartment require injection molds that are just as complex. A number of solenoids and media connections increase the space requirements in the injection molding machine, although little clamping force is required. Injection molding machines with a tie-bar-less clamping unit provide the advantage of high accessibility for the
  63. 63. 63 mold mounting surface. This helps in “downsizing” the machine equipment as well as during mold changing. Fig 4.49 Complex inlet water header for an automobile engine, manufactured by Plastic-Concept Fig 4.49.1 Overhanging mold for the complex inlet water Header in a tie-bar-less injection molding machine 4.24.1 Switching levers In order for the operating forces and the operating feel to be the same in all the gears in an automobile series, switching levers must have especially steady, uniform quality. By over molding two metal parts with glass fiber-reinforced plastic, an opening for attaching a cable (among other things) can be integrated in metal pipes. For this purpose, ENGEL supply a complete solution consisting of a vertical machine and a robot: the pipes and the cable attachments are inserted by the robot and the finished parts are removed automatically. Fig 4.50 Multilayer media pipe, manufactured using ENGEL fluid melt Fig 4.51 Production cell with a 90-tonne ENGEL insert vertical machine with Automatic insertion, removal and post-processing
  64. 64. 64 4.25 Pedal bearing blocks So-called pedal bearing blocks support the brake and clutch pedals in automobiles and trucks. They are currently manufactured with a hybrid method from plastic and galvanized with sheet metal. In completely automatic manufacturing cells surrounding an ENGEL injection molding machine, the three dimensionally shaped and contoured sheet is inserted into the injection mold and over molded with plastic. Fig 4.52 Pedal bearing block with hybrid technology for a Mercedes model 4.25.1 Hybrid technology integrates fastenings for attachments The attached plastic ribs stiffen the construction and prevent the galvanized sheet from collapsing if it is overloaded. The high E-module of the metal permits a delicate overall construction, and the ductile behavior of the sheet prevents the component from breaking or failing apart during a crash. Furthermore, because of the plastic over molding, fastenings for attachments such as switches and sensors can be integrated. 4.26 Clutch pedals The pedal itself consists of PA66-GF30 and is manufactured using the ENGEL insert vertical machine by over molding the metal block. The pedal pad is rubber that is injection molded on an ENGEL elast vertical machine. Fig 4.53 Clutch pedal of plastic with over molded bearing
  65. 65. 65 4.27 Damping elements and spark plugs boots The ENGEL elast and ENGEL insert machines are combined to manufacture shock absorbers for an automobile axle. Modified PPE-GF20 replaces the metal that was formerly used. It is over molded with an elastomer and fulfils the same functions as a heavy molded part of metal and rubber. Fig 4.54 Metal-elastomer composite as a damper Fig 4.55 Spark plug boot 4.27.1 Economic mass production Air hoses, spark plugs boots and sealing elements such as O-rings on moving parts and single-conductor seals in automobile electrical systems are produced from classical cured elastomers using ENGEL elast and ENGEL LIM machines or from cured liquid silicon (LSR) on ENGEL vertical and horizontal injection molding machines. Fig 4.56 Reduced-weight shock absorbers by Barre Thomas, MuCell®-foamed from TPE on an ENGEL insert machine
  66. 66. 66 4.28 Results & visualization Automakers have been using plastics as an affective material in the making of automobiles. Apart from providing fuel-efficiency and safety, it also helps reduce cost and increased profits. The other advantages are that they can be molded into any shapes quickly. Plastics certainly have a good future. There is no doubt that plastics will be used more and more by the automobile industry. In the future we can see almost 90% of the vehicles we drive to be made of plastic. Plastic will certainly become the "metal" of the future. Plastic composites are really strong and thus a good substitute to metal. Use of plastic is good but it should be reusable otherwise it may be a very serious environmental issue. Since plastic is relatively low cost than metal and weighs far less then metal, it improves fuel efficiency. The versatility of plastic also makes it easy to mold in any shape. Moreover it does have to be painted, which further reduces its cost. Another advantage is that plastics are corrosion resistant against metals that are prone to oxidizing attack which can prove to be expansive especially in salty conditions. Plastics indeed offer greater advantages in automobile industry. I think after the industrial revolution, plastic has created another revolution. It can be used to make cars which also make it safer due to its impact absorbing capability. Plastic cars are certainly the way to the future. I totally believe that plastic is a better substitute for metal. Advantages of plastic are it is cost efficient, light yet very strong and durable. Also it helps in fuel efficiency.
  67. 67. 67 Chapter 5 Conclusion To maximize capacity utilization and production efficiency, while improving quality, manufactures need integrated manufacturing solutions that facilitate continuous process improvements and ultimately make them more competitive. A “best-in-class” products allow manufactures to optimize operations, drive down costs and increase profitability with end-to-end solutions that optimize the entire design-throughmanufacturing process. Automation in injection molding projects minimizes hands on involvement, resulting in improved consistency, repeatability, product quality and ultimately the best value for the customers. Robotics can be used throughout the injection molding process during the insert molding or over molding process, helping to assist in secondary operations and quality inspections. Using automation process can eliminate waste, produce consistent quality components and at a faster cycle time. Reducing the need for manual intervention in the molding process To make the insert molding and over molding process more efficient, robotics are often utilized. Injection molders make use of robotics to place the metal components in a molding machine before the insert molding process and then perform secondary operations like part trimming and packaging. Injection molders can take advantage of the use of robots in the over molding process by removing a molded part or substrate from one injection molding machine and then placing it into another injection molding machine for the over molding process. Using robotics to complete as many tasks as possible frees up time and resources for any required hands-on processes. It also makes it possible to repeat those tasks over many cycles with consistency and predictability. Robots are also used for secondary operations in the injection molding process. Some samples of use of robotics in secondary operations are for part trimming, drilling or clipping. As well as in assembly of injection molded components either by welding, bonding or adhesives. Automation is also used for sorting of product for further processing and packaging components to be shipped to customers.
  68. 68. 68 5.1 Injection molding technology for the mobility of the future  Complete range of Injection molding machines for every size  Turnkey systems consisting of machine, process and automation for cost-optimized solutions, flexibility adapted to individual customer requirements  Wide-ranging competence in all injection molding technologies and customer processes  Fundamental application-related know-how  Many years of experience in the branch of automotive technology  Close network with competent system partners  Extensive customer service facilities and fast spare parts supply for minimum plant downtime 5.2 Advantages of plastic  They can be easily molded and have excellent finishing.  They possess very good strength and toughness. They possess good shock absorption capacity.  Advantages of plastic are corrosion resistant and chemically inert.  They have low thermal expansion of co-efficient and possess good thermal and electrical insulating property.  Advantages of plastic is very good water resistant and possess good adhesiveness.  Plastic is strong, good and cheap to produce. Advantages of plastic are light in weight.  Plastic is a recycling process and it does not decompose.  Plastic bottles can be reused and restored over again and again.  Plastic is one of the unbreakable.  Plastic is an odour less.  Plastic is used for building, construction, electronics, packaging (gladwrap) and transportation industries.  Used to make - Water bottles, pens, plastic bags, cups etc.  Advantages of plastic are Very cheap to make.
  69. 69. 69  Durability  Strength  Chemical resistance.  Advantages of plastic are used to produce another product.  Used to reduce soil and wind erosion. Benefits of thermoplastics versus metals When auto engineers design cars today, they are looking for a couple of key attributes in addition to attractive looks and functionality. These are fuel-efficiency and safety. Plastics win over metals in both of these attributes. Carbon-fiber reinforced plastics and other innovative plastics are strong and light and can be molded into virtually any shape. Since they are light, they increase fuel efficiency as well as range of the vehicles. The toughness of carbon fiber increases the safety of these vehicles. In fact, today it is possible to make a car almost entirely of plastic. An example of a car that is almost completely reinforced plastic. Lightweight and high-strength reinforced plastics were designed by chemical engineers and are a tribute to chemistry. They were first used in the aerospace industry. Today they are widely used in automotive doors, fenders, and chassis and also in hoods and support frames for the engine and transmission. More than 40 million hybrid components in 70 vehicle classes can now be found on roads around the world. The main benefit of this plastic-metal hybrid technology is its excellent integration and weight-reducing potential. In addition to car front-ends made of lightweight nylon composites in combination with aluminum, plastic-metal hybrid technology is
  70. 70. 70 now also used to make roof frames and break pedal blocks. We foresee a day in the future when a car could be made of nothing but plastic. Automakers have been using plastics as an affective material in the making of automobiles. Apart from providing fuel-efficiency and safety, it also helps reduce cost and increased profits. The other advantages are that they can be molded into any shapes quickly. Plastics certainly have a good future. There is not doubt that plastics will be used more and more by the automobile industry. In the future we can see almost 90% of the vehicles we drive to be made of plastic. Plastic will certainly become the "metal" of the future. Plastic composites are really strong and thus a good substitute to metal. Use of plastic is good but it should be reusable otherwise it may be a very serious environmental issue. Since plastic is relatively low cost than metal and weighs far less then metal, it improves fuel efficiency. The versatility of plastic also makes it easy to mold in any shape. Moreover it does have to be painted, which further reduces its cost. Another advantage is that plastics are corrosion resistant against metals that are prone to oxidizing attack which can prove to be expansive especially in salty conditions. Plastics indeed offer greater advantages in automobile industry. I think after the industrial revolution, plastic has created another revolution. It can be used to make cars which also make it safer due to its impact absorbing capability. Plastic cars are certainly the way to the future. I totally believe that plastic is a better substitute for metal. Advantages of plastic are it is cost efficient, light yet very strong and durable. Also it helps in fuel efficiency. 5.3 Plastics in the Automotive Industry Today Although plastics have been used in automobiles since the 1940s,1 the use of plastics and polymer composites in automobiles is typically viewed as a modern innovation, as many of the materials that are considered “plastics” are a recent development. These advanced materials have benefited vehicle appearance, performance, and safety, and continue to offer the automotive industry new ways to improve its vehicles today. The creation of this growing range of new materials has even forced a shift in the label “plastics” to the more accurate “plastics and polymer composites.” (In order to maintain a concise narrative, both labels are used in this roadmap [see sidebar]).
  71. 71. 71 As the development of innovative plastics and polymer composites has impacted the automotive industry, so has the changing automotive market impacted the focus and priorities of the plastics industry. While many of the same forces, such as consumer demand and global competition, continue to shape the automotive market, the marketplace of today is very different from what it was only a few years ago. In order to remain competitive and prosperous, both the plastics and automotive industries need an integrated strategy for the future, one that aligns the interests of both industries and effectively leverages the full potential of plastics and polymer composites. These industries must also seek to work in partnership with state and federal governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to further advance the shared goals of addressing global climate change, ensuring security of energy supplies, and reducing U.S. dependency on foreign oil. This roadmap uses a variety of terms to refer to full range of materials that are most accurately referred to as plastics and polymer composites. Alternative labels include polymers, plastics, and composites. 5.4 Plastics in the Future Automotive Analysts predict a V-shaped growth pattern for the automotive sector globally. Yet, despite market-imposed capacity constraints, anticipated production is expected to increase from 11 million units in 2010 to 15.5 million units by 2011. While the U.S. vehicle sales forecast is encouraging, healthcare and pension costs threaten margins for U.S. automakers. This year, the U.S. vehicle sales recovery has been driven by fleet sales — sales of a large number of vehicles to companies such as rental car agencies and commercial truck operators. This demand is defined by the miles driven per year, the average age of the fleet (9 years), population growth rates, and the age of drivers. Slowing the demand for new vehicles domestically is the growing rate of the retired population, who will drive their vehicles 40 percent less and make fewer new vehicle purchases. As automakers gear for the next-generation industry transformation, panelists cited a number of factors that will be affecting the resurgence of original equipment manufacturers and suppliers alike.