Dr Peter Neumann, CEO, ENGEL Holding GmbH: “Demand for highly integrated and automated systems solutions is rising around the world. This is an area in which our strong systems expertise guarantees us a competitive advantage.”
Process integration and automation are becoming increasingly important factors for injection moulding machines. Indeed, automated lines offer opportunities for reduced costs and improved quality. Today, on the opening day of K 2013, Austrian injection moulding machine producer Engel has underlined its position as the European injection moulding machine supplier with the largest market share of automation equipment. The press release from the company is as follows.
A high level of systems expertise has been the decisive factor in enabling Engel significantly to expand its market share on all national markets over recent years. Engel is responsible for around 50 percent of all automated manufacturing cells supplied world-wide by European producers of injection moulding machines, making the company the global leader in the automation of injection moulding processes. In business year 2012/2013, that strong market position enabled Engel to generate record turnover of €950 million. Since 2007/2008, the company has increased its sales by an average of 10 percent every year.
Demand for innovation still strong
“Eastern Europe and Germany are driving growth at the moment,” says Dr Peter Neumann, CEO of Engel Holding GmbH (pictured), speaking to the trade press as K 2013 gets under way in Düsseldorf. “During the first three quarters of 2013, demand in western Europe was stable or marginally up. While the downturn in the automobile industry is linked to reinvestment, demand for innovation in the sector remains high. We have also noticed higher consumption levels in western nations, and increasingly this is leading to solutions for the packaging and capital goods industry.”
As for the other main economic trends affecting K 2013, Peter Neumann cites the continuing healthy development of the US market. Falling demand on the emerging markets of China, India, southeast Asia and South America must also be taken into account, he believes, but the picture varies considerably: while sales of low-tech machines have dropped sharply in China in particular, demand is still high for innovative applications, system solutions, new technologies and modular machines.
“Our systems expertise gives us a clear advantage over our Asian competitors,” says Neumann. “The need for highly integrated and automated system solutions is rising in Asia as well. On these markets, Engel is seen as a strongly innovative partner investing heavily in the region.” Sales in Asia have risen steadily to stand at new record levels in business year 2012/2013.
More demand for sector-specific solutions
Efficiency potential is maximised where the injection moulding machine, automation, mould project planning and process technology are properly coordinated from the outset. The single-source concept also diminishes the time and cost factors for customers as Engel takes overall responsibility (also for system components developed with partners). Training and service also rank as firm features of the Engel system philosophy around the world. “Our aim is to lead the field when it comes to creating customer benefit,” says Peter Neumann.
Alongside process integration and automation, the main technological factors supporting growth are machine concepts and sector-specific enhancements optimised for performance and energy efficiency. Drivers include lightweight construction (demand for injection moulding machines and system solutions will rise sharply in the next few years thanks to material substitutions alone) and functional surfaces, which make high technology affordable to the mass market in many areas and facilitate new component properties and design solutions.
Schwertberg parent plant continues to expand
Engel is continually investing in the expansion and modernisation of its eight production plants and 29 sales and service subsidiaries around the world. In the course of this business year, new branch offices have been established close to Stuttgart and in Thailand, while staffing levels have been boosted at other offices. At the same time, production capacity has been raised in the two Asian machine factories and the Dietach robot factory as well as head office in Schwertberg. A new assembly hall also opened in Schwertberg in September, substantially increasing the number of spaces for machines to be accepted by clients. Further building measures for the site are already in the pipeline.
The family-run company will present 25 machines at the plastics industry's leading trade show, including dedicated medical clean room manufacturing cells. Two of the 25 exhibits (in non-medical) will be brand new machines—the Engel e-speed and the e-motion 30 TL.
The e-speed is a 650-tonne hybrid machine which achieves up to 800 mm/s injection speed available in screw diameters of 80 and 90.
The new e-motion is a small all electric tie-bar-less 30-tonne compact machine. The machine is equipped with an injection unit which delivers a speed of 800 mm/s. A choice of three barrel diameters come as standard—D15, D18 and D20.
According to the press release, the most striking innovation here is a new kind of "intelligent frame concept in place of the double machine frame". Engel say this guarantees very high platen parallelism together with an even distribution of clamping force across the entire mould fixing platen. The sealed three-point toggle lever with maintenance-free crank mechanism works with a servomotor to facilitate very short dry cycles of well under one second.
In medical, visitors to K will be able to see the following two manufacturing demonstrations.
Tri-component drip chamber with filter in a single step
Pitched as a world premiere, Engel will show how drip chambers for blood transfusions, with an integrated filter, will be produced using an Engel e-victory 310H/80W/50V 160 combi tri-component injection moulding machine with ecodrive and a cleanroom design. Each chamber comprises an ABS and a TPE component injection moulded in a single work step; the filter is mounted and joined by means of overmoulding with polypropylene. This unprecedented level of integration significantly improves efficiency in the manufacturing of multi-component hollow bodies with inlays and will revolutionise not only manufacturing practices in the medical engineering sector but also, for example, the production of fuel filters. Conventionally, the two hollow body components are individually injection moulded; the inlay is then fitted and bonded in subsequent process steps.
One key prerequisite in realising the integrated process is servoelectric drive technology for all movements of the index plate mould; this facilitates the synchronous control of mutually independent movements. For this application, the mould production partner is Hack Formenbau of Kirchheim in Germany. The precision platen parallelism setting on the tie-bar-less injection moulding machine ensures a high level of mould protection. As clamping force builds up, the platen parallelism is automatically adapted to the mould parallelism. Platen parallelism is guaranteed, even where moulds are heavy, thanks to prestressing by the patented FlexLink system and the support of the solid C-frame.
An Engel easix multi-axis robot is also integrated in the manufacturing cell along with a system for total quality control. The drip chambers are inspected for seal tightness directly after injection moulding.
All electric e-motion 440/220 T and 96-cavity mould
Larger moulds, higher throughput ... the productivity demands on manufacturing processes are rising all the time. The medical engineering sector in particular has no room for compromise when it comes to process stability and the quality of parts. For this reason, Engel has consistently developed its all-electric series of Engel e-motion injection moulding machines for high performance applications even in the high clamping force ranges. Working with the automation specialist Hekuma (of Eching in Germany) and mould manufacturer Braunform (of Bahlingen, also in Germany), Engel will feature a highly automated manufacturing cell for making needle holders for insulin pens—and thereby demonstrate process reliability that is hard to beat. The cores of the 96-cavity mould have a diameter of just 0.3 mm. To counter deformation of cores effectively, the premium version of the electric injection unit is equipped with a direct drive. Highly dynamic injection movements and injection speeds of up to 500 mm/s are thereby attained. A camera-based monitoring system instantly identifies any problems with parts. Thanks to cavity specific handling, reject parts are automatically separated and the injection mould can carry on producing without deactivating the cavity. The all-electric Engel e-motion 440/220 T achieves cycle times of around five seconds despite the delicate mould cores.