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        IMA

China’s machinery market buoyed by sector growth

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China’s injection moulding machinery market, which accounts for 40% of the country’s share of machinery, is set to grow on the back of the growth of the automotive and consumer electronics sectors. All this bodes well for injection moulding machinery makers at Chinaplas 2018, to be held in a new venue in Shanghai this year, from 24-27 April.

According to IHS Markit, plastics machinery in China will witness a CAGR of 11.7% from 2016- 2021; while rubber machinery will grow at a CAGR of 11.2% over the same period. By 2021, plastics and rubber machinery will be valued at around US$12.7 billion and US$6 billion, respectively.

The growth will trickle down to the injection moulding machinery sector, which is the core equipment of plastic machinery in the country, with an output value accounting for about 40%, with machinery widely used in general purpose plastics applications, says IHS Markit.

Teik Chuan Goh, an analyst at IHS Markit, said, “Strong developments in the eco/green automobiles sector and the consumption, as well as demand, of 3C (computer, communication and consumer electronics) products will be the main drivers for this sector.”

Catering to lightweight parts through technology

Against the back of the continuing trend in China towards lightweight parts for the automotive sector, at Chinaplas 2018, Germany’s Arburg will be presenting the ProFoam physical foaming technology in China for the first time. It will exhibit a hybrid Allrounder 570H with a size 800 injection unit that will be producing a component for passenger car engine compartments. Processing involves fibre-reinforced materials (PA66, 30 GF). With its fine cell structures, the ProFoam part is characterised by low weight, few sink holes, uniform shrinkage and greatly reduced distortion. A granulate lock ensures a continuous feed of material and gaseous blowing agent. As well as a version with a capacity of 1 l, Arburg also offers a 5 l granulate lock for size 1300 to 4600 injection units.

Arburg-ProFoam-physical-foaming technique

Meanwhile, medical technology is also an important market for Arburg that is characterised by high growth rates. An Allrounder 370E Golden Electric will be used at Chinaplas to demonstrate that the entrylevel electric series is also suitable for precision Y connectors for intravenous drip therapy, with a twocavity mould from Wellmei. The moulded parts made from PC are removed and set down by a Multilift Select linear robotic system.

Furthermore, Arburg being a pioneer in the processing of liquid silicone (LSR), it will demonstrate an Allrounder 420C Golden Edition producing flexible LSR cases for the iPhone 8. The mould is provided by Prover, while the LSR dosing unit comes from 2 KM. A Multilift Select linear robotic system performs the handling tasks.

A Freeformer and a variety of functional components will be used to demonstrate that Arburg Plastic Freeforming (APF) is not only suitable for prototyping but also for the industrial additive manufacturing of functional components. The exhibit will process qualified standard PP and the water-soluble support material Armat 12 to produce functional cable clips with delicate yet durable structures.

Machinery makers cater to Asia’s demand

Asia is one of the most important markets for the Austrian/German Wittmann Group, as it has manufacturing in China. Therefore, its subsidiary company Wittmann Battenfeld will present a twocomponent Wittmann Battenfeld’s MicroPower MicroPower machine producing a sensor component for a medical measuring instrument with a four-cavity mould supplied by Wittner, Austria. A second machine, SmartPower 180/750, will demonstrate the production of a diffusion lens from PC with a single-cavity lens supplied by Safeplast, Austria. The parts will be removed and deposited by a locally produced Wittmann robot.

Another company for whom Asia and China are important markets is German company Boy. It will present a 25E producing watch cases made of PP at the booth of its Chinese representative Andeli Co. Another small table-top machine, XXS with 63 kN clamping force, will produce micro parts.

Swiss machine manufacturer Netstal will showcase dual-layer Prelactia barrier preforms for milk bottles. The double-layer structure of the patented barrier preform offers an economic benefit, compared to other packaging processes.

milk-bottle

During the first step of the overmoulding process, a 1 mm-thick, inner grey layer is injected, creating a light barrier, blocking out virtually 100% of the visible light spectrum. In a second step, a 1.4 mm-thick white outer skin, from the addition of white pigment titanium dioxide, is added on. In contrast to single-layer bottles, this process allows the volume of titanium dioxide to be reduced from 10% to 3%, allowing for savings for Asian processors.

Industry 4.0 comes to Asia

Arburg will showcase what it offers for the Smart Factory and the Made in China 2025 state-sponsored industrial development plan and how Industry 4.0 components can be individually combined. These include, for example, industrial Ethernet, as well as online process control, data acquisition, detailed planning and status monitoring. Further information will also be available, for example, on the individualisation of high-volume parts as single-unit batches by combining injection moulding and additive manufacturing. Further offerings include the new remote maintenance tool and numerous assistance systems for starting, setting-up, optimising, producing and monitoring tasks.

Arburg-host-computer-system

Another company promoting Industry 4.0 will be German machine maker KraussMaffei’s new MaXecution, a manufacturing execution system (MES) specifically tailored to the demands of small and medium-sized moulding companies. Presented for the first time in China, it uses productivity indicators for overall equipment effectiveness, mould management and resources and statistics on machines and rejects. It is based on the well known HYDRA MES from MPDV Mikrolab (MPDV) and is offered in three stages of expansion. In this way, the customer can decide how many MES functionalities KraussMaffei-GX-series are needed based on individual requirements. If the customer requires additional functions, the option is available to switch to HYDRA by MPDV.

Aiming for the automotive sector

Austria’s Engel will present a complex multicomponent process with interlinked injection moulding machines at Chinaplas. Two duo injection moulding machines will produce LED lenses made of PMMA with a thickness of 22 mm for vehicle headlamps. The lens base bodies will be produced on a duo 1060/400 injection moulding machine in a four-cavity mould. An easix articulated robot is integrated in the production cell and removes the four parts and passes them to an Engel-for-vehicle-headlamps external cooling station. From there the robot takes four already sufficiently cooled preforms at a time and transfers them to the 4+4-cavity mould of the duo 600H/600H/500 combi multi-component machine with rotary table. There, two more PMMA layers are applied successively before easix removes the finished lenses. The cycle time is significantly lower than 3 minutes, although the preforms take around 30 minutes to cool. The cooling time can be controlled via the number of cooling positions in the external cooling station. System partners include Skymould (Ningbo/China), HRSflow (Hangzhou, China), Innolite (Aachen/ Germany), Opsira (Weingarten, Germany) and Gimatic (Shanghai, China).

Meanwhile, Engel’s subsidiary Wintec builds its machines in Changzhou, China, tailored to the requirements of the standard market in Asia. It will showcase a t-win 10500-7000 hydraulic machine with a clamping force of 10,500 kN producing automotive interior door panels from PP. The shot weight is 650 g, and each cycle takes 30 seconds. Even in the standard version, the t-win machines are equipped with the servowin servo-hydraulics, reducing energy consumption by more than 60% compared to conventional hydraulic moulding machines. It will also show the all-electric e-win 1000-170 used to produce pump heads from fibre-glass filled PPS, which will be used in air conditioning systems in the car.

KraussMaffei will show a GX 650-3400 with a clamping force of 6,500 kN demonstrating cascade injection with its repeat accuracy. A radiator grille is created in a cycle times of about 49 seconds. The connected FlexFlow hot runner control ensures a balanced cascade calibration. The result is premium quality components free of joint lines that can immediately be painted and galvanised, says the firm. The GX series has also been manufactured in Haiyan, China, since 2016.

Robotics domination eyed

The automation of production is accelerating around the world: 74 robot units per 10,000 employees is the new average of global robot density in the manufacturing industries (2015: 66 units). By regions, the average robot density in Europe is 99 units, in the Americas 84 and in Asia 63 units.

In China, automation is a key agenda in the Made in China 2025 roadmap. Factories may soon see an increased population of robots. According to Germanyheadquartered International Federation of Robotics (IFR), the robot density in China has accelerated significantly from 25 units in 2013 to 68 units in 2016, making China the 23rd in global robot density. It is in line with the government’s agenda to place China among the world’s top ten most intensively automated nations by 2020. During that period, the robot density is targeted to be pushed to 150 units; with sales of domestically produced industrial robots to total 100,000 units.

The above mentioned companies, like Arburg, Wittmann, KraussMaffei and Engel, are contributing to the country’s yearning for automation with their robot offerings, too

(IMA)


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