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Oxfordshire-based White Horse Plastics (WHP), Wittmann Battenfeld, and systems integrator Adept Automation have collaborated on a successful automation and production cell, quadrupling the previous production capacity of an intricate overmoulded automotive bearing used as part of a four-stage door checker.
The automation work was centred on the need to align four off-inserts with micron-accurate location into the mould tool, involving 16 moving cores and 32 shut through windows, an 18-second cycle time, and next to no tolerance on the 2x3mm key-ways into the bearing. The nylon 66 with 2% Molybdenum Disulfide (PA66-MoS2)-filled part was then to be overmoulded in a metal bearing sleeve, before being shipped to the automotive customer.
Paul Bobby, WHP factory manager, says: “This was a very challenging project, and took us through a number of process iterations: Without the determination that is the WHP trade mark – equalled by the persistence of Wittmann Battenfeld – we would not have succeeded in automating the work.”
Bobby adds that “because of the complexity of the new tooling we were presented with a major automation alignment challenge. The 3mm key way was the datum point for the whole assembly and allowed next to no dimensional tolerance.”
A customised Wittmann Battenfeld injection moulding machine was specified and commissioned together with a Wittmann 818 3-axis robot. The downstream process was assisted by the work of Aylesbury-based Adept Automation leading to an effective fulfilment of the project.
Recently returned from the triennial K 2016 plastics exhibition, Bobby notes that the current state-of-the-art of plastics processing automation is now nothing short of incredible. “However fantastic the technology, automation requiring this level of investment still requires a positive business case in order to proceed.”