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        IMA

Taiwanese Machinery & Technology: Taiwan’s machine sector in a robust standing

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The upcoming 2018 Taipei International Plastics and Rubber Industry Show (Taipeiplas) will be held at Taipei Nangang Exhibition Centre from 15-19 August. As a trade show exclusively dedicated to the plastics and rubber sectors, it will feature around 520 exhibitors occupying more than 2,700 booths to present their latest products and development. The show is also expected to attract more than 18,000 visitors from home and abroad.

Showcase of the Taiwanese machine sector

Taiwan has established its global presence and is among the world’s top six producers and exporters in plastics and rubber machines. In 2017, Taiwan’s production value totalled US$1.42 billion, and its export value reached US$1.16 billion.

It is not surprising as Taiwan has been developing its plastics and rubber industry for more than 60 years, and its industrial clusters synergise every facet of the supply chain that enables Taiwanese manufacturers to produce competitively priced products.

It is against this backdrop that the Taipeiplas show has become a trade show that showcases a complete supply chain ranging from raw materials, processing machines, auxiliary equipment, moulds and dies to finished products.

Visitors to Taipeiplas this year will also be able to witness how the plastics and rubber industry is taking on the 4th Industrial Revolution. As more and more companies are incorporating smart manufacturing elements such as industrial robots, big data analysis, IoT, cloud computing and 3D printing, the exhibition will showcase Industry 4.0 related products and smart machines to help plastics and rubber product manufacturers improve production efficiency, flexibility and product quality.

In addition, Taipeiplas will be packed with abundant activities, including forums, seminars and new product launches during the show.

Rise of Industry 4.0 and smart manufacturing

Smart manufacturing plays an important role in the concept of Industry 4.0 that focuses on providing intelligent manufacturing solutions to increase flexibility, quality, efficiency and productivity and enables companies to conquer the challenges of higher degree of customisation, higher product quality, lower order volume and shorter time to market.

This concept has also impacted the plastics and rubber industry. Plastics and rubber machinery producers are incorporating elements such as autonomous robots, big data and cloud computing, Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing or additive manufacturing to build intelligent machines or smart production lines.

FCS’s FA series is a new generation standard

Taking this cue, Taiwanese machinery maker FCS will showcase its FA series, a new generation standard servo energy-saving model. Not only have the specifications been upgraded, but design has also been optimised.

The machine features the Keba electronic control system for an enhanced integration, and is combined with FCS’s IMF 4.0 solution to develop a so-called “intelligent” injection moulding machine. The system is able to extract data and values about the moulding parameters, quality control, auxiliary equipment and reuse them afterwards.

Other features of the new model are:

  • Increase in tie-bars distance, injection velocity and higher system pressure to match high injection volume requirements

  • Strength of the platen design reinforced by 30%, more uniform clamping force distribution, lower machine platen deformation, and smoother mould closing-opening operation control

  • Machine operates accurately with injection closed-loop operation control without the need for installation of additional sensors and equipment
Engel will use a tie-bar-less Victory injection moulding machine

Meanwhile, Austrian injection moulding machine maker Engel will showcase Industry 4.0 at its booth. Featuring a modular approach, the inject 4.0 programme is making it easy for processors to exploit the opportunities presented by Industry 4.0. At Taipeiplas, Engel will be presenting its iQ weight control assistance system.

During the injection process, the software analyses the pressure profile in real time and compares measured values by means of a reference cycle. For every shot, the injection profile, switchover point and the holding pressure profile are automatically adapted to current conditions and the injected melt volume is kept consistent throughout the production operation. In this way, fluctuations in environmental conditions and in raw materials are automatically recognised and readjusted before a single reject is produced.

Expanded roles for automation and robotics

As technology has evolved over time and markets become more demanding, factories have integrated automated equipment or industrial robots in the plastics and rubber manufacturing process to improve production efficiency, reduce human errors and thus increase product and service quality.

Research by TechNavio shows that the global industrial robotic market is expected to grow with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.42% from 2013 to 2018.

“Automation & Robot and 3D Printing” will be one of the exhibit areas at Taipeiplas 2018.

Growing popularity of all-electric machines

Unlike traditional hydraulic injection moulding machines, all-electric machines operate with digitally controlled, high speed and highly efficient servo motors that consume energy only when required.

As a result, energy consumption can be reduced by up to 50% over that for hydraulic machines. Other advantages include a high level of consistency, repeatability and accuracy and short production cycle time. Automotive, medical, telecommunications and electronic parts moulders and producers are especially and increasingly drawn to these benefits.

While many Taiwanese machinery makers have already developed or are starting to develop all-electric machines, in response to the growing popularity, German machine makers were among those that were the first to be at the forefront of electric machines.

Thus, Germany-based machinery maker Arburg will showcase an Allrounder from the electric Golden Electric series, in an application specifically targeted at the 3C (communication, computer, consumer electronics) sector, which plays a significant role in Taiwan.

hydraulic Allrounder 420C Golden Edition

Arburg will also showcase an application in the processing of liquid silicone (LSR) and in powder injection moulding (PIM) for the smartphone market. As a pioneer in PIM for 55 years, Arburg will display an exhibit producing smartphone frames made of metal using the PIM process. The second exhibit, a hydraulic Allrounder from the Golden Edition series, will produce flexible LSR covers. In addition, the Arburg host computer system (ALS) will be on view, demonstrating how process data can be logged, archived and traced end-to-end.

Allrounder-470C-Golden

The injection moulding of metal powders (MIM) is a cost-effective alternative to the machining of metal frames and backs for smartphones. This method requires a much lower use of materials and is significantly less expensive than machining.

At Taipeiplas, Arburg will demonstrate the powder-injection moulding of tension- and segregation-free, thin-walled smartphone frames made from metal. The associated changeable mould is designed so that it can alternatively be used to produce backs for smartphone housings, as well as frames.

Michael-Huang

An electric Allrounder 470 E Golden Electric with PIM equipment and a clamping force of 1,000 kN will be used. The injection moulding machine processes the flow-optimised Catamold 17-4 PH Plus feedstock from BASF in a 60-second cycle time. In order to maintain consistent green density, the mould is dynamically temperature controlled with a hot runner. This produces very good surface finishes, which can subsequently be polished to a high gloss. A linear Multilift Select robotic system will remove the moulded green compacts and set them down.

Arburg is also a pioneer in the processing of LSR and has not only brought this technology to the market, but also uses its over 40 years of expertise to continuously develop innovative and sophisticated process solutions.

A particularly cost-effective application will be demonstrated at Taipeiplas with a machine designed for LSR processing from the hydraulic entry-level Golden Edition series. An Allrounder 420 C Golden Edition with a clamping force of 1,000 kN will produce a flexible LSR cover for the iPhone 8 in a cycle time of 25 seconds. The mould is provided by Proper, while the LSR dosing unit comes from Silcostar. A linear Multilift Select robotic system will perform the handling tasks in this application.

Taiwan’s medical device sector in a healthy mode

The medical devices industry is one of the biggest in the healthcare sector. In Taiwan, according to Article 13 of the Pharmaceutical Affairs Act, medical devices are defined as “any instruments, machines, apparatus, materials, software, reagent for in vitro use, and other similar or related articles, used in diagnosing, curing, alleviating, directly preventing human diseases, regulating fertility, or which may affect the body structure or functions of human beings, and do not achieve its primary intended function by pharmacological, immunological or metabolic means in or on the human body.”

If medical devices are classified based on the industrial materials used, there are those made of medical metals (metals and alloys), ceramic materials, medical polymers (natural polymers and synthetic polymers) and medical composite materials.

Taiwan’s Industrial Development Bureau in its “2017 White Paper on Biotechnology Industry in Taiwan”, says the global medical device market is estimated to be US$336.1 billion in 2016 and is expected to reach US$389.1 billion in 2019 growing at a CAGR of 5% from 2016-2019.

Meanwhile, the Department of Statistics says that the output value of the medical devices industry in Taiwan has reached an alltime high of NT$62.9 billion with an average annual growth rate (AAGR) of 9.1% in the last decade. The strong performance of the medical devices industry means it has established itself as one of the few industries less affected by the 2008 financial crisis.

In the first two months of 2017, the medical devices industry had an output value of NT$9.8 billion with an AAGR of 10.3%. In recent years, the Taiwanese government has been strongly promoting the development of the medical devices industry, due to the rapid progress in R&D technology and material quality of the medical devices as well as the high output value.

Engel will demonstrate the production of catheters from LSR

Among all the product types, the top two product categories of Taiwan’s medical devices in 2016 were eyeglasses (contact lenses, sunglasses, general glasses, accessories) and medical devices and supplies (syringes, blood glucose monitoring devices, artificial joints, medical catheters).

Engel will demonstrate the production of catheters from LSR using a 16-cavity mould on a tie-bar-less Victory 200/80 injection moulding machine with clamping force of 800 kN.

“Demand for high-end solutions for LSR processing is rising fast,” says Kurt Hell, Vice President of Engel’s Medical business unit in Asia. “By adapting production lines to individual products, the components in a manufacturing cell are all coordinated from the outset.”

To integrate other peripheral units and moulds alongside robots and process technologies, Engel says it has established a global network of system partners, while in Asia it works with local suppliers, according to Hell. “The system partners involved with the exhibit are Taiwan-based mould manufacturer HR Silicone and 2KM, which is represented in Asia in Guangzhou, China.”

In pursuit of future growth of the medical device sector, the Taiwanese government is launching “5+2 Industrial Transformation Plan” and “Biomedical Industry Innovation Program (BIIP)” revolving around the three major goals of “connecting to domestic market demands, global market demands and future industry trends”.

(IMA)


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