German show focuses on technology

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Fakuma, held from 13-17 October 2015, at the Friedrichshafen Exhibition Centre on Lake Constance, Germany, featured 1,780 exhibitors from 38 countries and overall exhibition floor space amounting to 915,000 sq ft. The organiser, PE Schall, also says this year’s event turned out to be a global industry event in the non-K show years, attracting 45,721 visitors from 120 countries. Highlights at the show were Industry 4.0, the next phase in the digitisation of the manufacturing sector, and 3D printing.

3D becomes more than buzzword

Additive manufacturing/3D printing is well on the way to fundamentally changing production processes because of reduced mould costs and development times and more considerable design freedom.

Arguably the first company to rally around additive manufacturing was Germany-based Arburg that launched its Freeformer at the K show in 2013. At Fakuma, the company’s Freeformers were producing office scissors in an automated linkage of an Allrounder moulding machine using a Kuka “iiwa” (intelligent industrial work assistant) seven-axis robot, said to be unique in the world of additive manufacturing to date.


Another German machine maker Boy has decided to go another way by producing the mould inserts for its injection moulding machines on a 3D printer. A Stratasys 3D-printer was shown producing the mould inserts, which were directly installed into the standard mould unit of the 10-tonne XS machine.

The company said “extremely short runs up to 500 parts” can be produced, depending on the materials, which include glass fibre-reinforced plastics. In this way, injection moulded parts can be made that have the same physical properties as conventional parts. This, it says, is not possible with the additive component production using 3D printers.


In materials, Covestro, formerly Bayer MaterialScience, is driving the development of highperformance polymers, such as PC, TPU, PU coatings and adhesives, for existing 3D printing processes.

The German company collaborated with Chinese filament maker for extrusion-based desktop 3D printers, Polymaker, to unveil Polymaker PC, a new line of PC-based materials developed for these printers. To date PC has only been available for applications in industrial 3D printers or a small market for extrusion-based 3D desktop printers.

The first two products are Polymaker PC-Plus and PC-Max. The application was made possible by lowering the printing temperature from 300 to 320°C down to a moderate 250 to 270°C, as well as by a significantly reduced tendency to warping.

Industry 4.0 hot topic

Industry 4.0 is the German vision for the future of manufacturing, one where smart factories use information and communications technologies to digitise their processes and reap huge benefits in the form of improved quality, lower costs, and increased efficiency. Thus, it is no longer enough to deploy the best injection moulding equipment.


Visitors to Arburg’s stand were given the opportunity to try out Industry 4.0 hands-on. Two Freeformers personalised office scissors and prefabricated rockertype light switches with individual 3D geometries. The application of a DM code by laser transformed each product into an information carrier. The Arburg ALS host computer recorded all the process data and archived it on a product-specific website in the “cloud”. Any visitor who was interested could use their mobile devices to access this website and display all the relevant process data for their very own part.

With the development of ALS, automated Allrounders and the Freeformer, Arburg says it is increasingly developing into a system supplier for networked production in the digital factory.

Thus, the company has contributed substantially to the development of the “Industry 4.0 Guidelines” published by the German machinery organisation VDMA, as well as being cited as one of the exponents of best practice. Arburg has had 30 years of experience in digitally networked production, both for the plastics industry and in the company’s own production processes.

Meanwhile, Austrian machine maker Engel under the inject 4.0 presented three core areas of a smart factory: smart machines, smart production and smart services. The solutions developed by Engel include a suite of self-adapting decentralised assistance systems that make up the IQ or intelligent quality family of products, which are to boost process capability without requiring operators to acquire special skills.

Engel introduced the newest member of this family, iQ clamp control, a software that automatically determines and adapts the clamping force to the optimum level for each application based on what is known as “mould breathing.” In this way, the software reduces the risk of quality deficiencies, ensures optimal mould ventilation, protects the mould against overfilling and boosts energy efficiency.

Also, iQ weight control is the logical companion for the injection side of the machine. The system recognises fluctuations in melt volume and viscosity and compensates for them during injection as well as the holding pressure phase of the same shot.

Industry 4.0 is a key word and its development is being pushed by the mechanical engineering, IT and automation industries. Also in plastics processing it is more and more about the vision of a complete networking of all processes in production.

Thus, Boy demonstrated an Industry 4.0 system through a partnership with proSeS BDE. The system showed every machine providing detailed running and production information.

The KraussMaffei Group with its three brands is developing solutions, and concentrating these under the three categories: Intelligent Machines, Integrated Production and Interactive Services. KraussMaffei and Netstal presented specific applications of how the Industry 4.0 vision can be implemented in a production.

A typical example of an intelligent machine at KraussMaffei is the APC function (Adaptive Process Control). It recognises process fluctuations, which can be caused by changing environmental conditions or fluctuating viscosity, and independently adopts counteractive measures.


The development of the future host computer interface Euromap 77 marks an important milestone in the Integrated Production area. Here KraussMaffei and Netstal are adopting a leading role on the Euromap committee.

In the future, this interface will enable the transfer of production data to a central host computer in real time. The new data transmission protocol OPC UA is the basis for these new communication interfaces, which has already been implemented by both machinery makers.


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