Lossburg, Germany — An annual fixture on the plastics injection molding calendar, Arburg GmbH + Co. KG’s Technology Days event, which took place this year from March 14-17 March, drew visitors — some 6,300 of them — from 54 countries around the globe, all of whom were there for the latest developments on display in the more than 50 exhibits on show at the company’s glass-and-steel headquarters in Lossburg.
From the five different lightweight construction technologies on display to the six new digital assistance packages shown in the Efficiency Arena, the Technology Days offered a comprehensive overview of the company’s advancements over the past year.
These were not all confined to technology alone, as became clear during a March 13 news conference, held the evening before the event kicked off. Financially speaking, the figures for 2017 “were very special for us,” said Arburg managing partner Michael Hehl.
Consolidated sales for 2017 is projected to come to some 680 million euros, compared to 636 million euros in 2016, and 596 million the year before. Incoming orders for machines were up over 27 percent compared to 2016, with the electric machines contributing significantly to this growth.
“In the case of electric Allrounders, we achieved an increase of 43 percent from 2016 to 2017,” director of finance, Jürgen Boll, reported.
Growth was especially healthy in Germany, where demand for relatively complex turnkey solutions is showing a positive trend, said Gerhard Böhm, managing director sales, although, as he pointed out, sales throughout Europe as a whole had picked up. Italy, Switzerland and Turkey performed outstandingly, while the countries of Eastern Europe and Russia also contributed to the increase, he said.
“In America, the U.S. remains our strongest market with sustained growth,” he emphasized. In Asia, the Chinese demand for system performance continues to grow, while Taiwan — “one of our youngest babies” — is a success, having surpassed all targets set for 2017.
Heinz Gaub, managing director technology & engineering concluded the press meeting with a brief look at the strides taken in the area of digitization.
“Machine operation is becoming increasingly passive,” he said. “What is required are ‘smart’ machines’…and we are once again playing a pioneering role in this regard.”
In addition to introducing six new digital assistance packages, available as add-ons and designed to provide support from setting up the machine to production, optimization, monitoring and service, he also talked about the digital future of machine construction and the parts that will be played by augmented and virtual reality in the areas of service and process design.
Demonstrations in the “for visions” exhibition area at the event itself showed how these technologies could find application in the very near future.
Other highlights of the exhibition included medical and cleanroom technology, high-speed packaging applications: an Allrounder 630H with a clamping force of 2300kN was moulding 20 disposable PS spoons in 6.4 seconds; the newly designed Allrounder 820H with the Gestica control system was on show, while the Technology Days also saw the launch of the new look Allrounder 920H, also featuring the new control system.
“We are showing the plastics world how the transition to the design and control system of our large Allrounders is progressing successively,” said Gerhard Böhm.
The Gestica — “gesture-based” — control system works similarly to smart mobile devices, complete with an “Easyslider” element, to control acceleration and deceleration. It builds on the benefits of the Selogica control system, which sets the industry standard, but, thanks to multi-touch technology, is more intuitive. Existing Selogica functionalities will be progressively integrated into the new control system generation.
“We will continue to supply two control systems next to one another as long as our customers want,” Gaub stressed. Meanwhile, the Selogica system has also been given a facelift: called the Selogica ND control system, the control panel design is visually similar to the Gestica.
Lightweight construction both the MuCell and ProFoam processes were shown, both producing an automotive part, as was gas-assist injection technology, the Fibre Direct Compounding process and a process using hollow glass beads to achieve a lightweight structure, rather than gas.
Arburg was also showing innovations in the additive manufacturing field: in the prototyping center, seven freeformers were on display processing, among other things, semi-crystalline polypropylene, conductive polycarbonate-ABS with carbon nanotubes and, in a premiere, acrylic.
“We wanted to show that it is possible to print a high density transparent material,’ said Gaub. For the first time, too, a 3D printed PP flip cap was shown that was ‘completely functional as is’, he added.
Arburg Inc. will exhibit in booth 1325 at NPE2018, May 7-11 in Orlando, Fla.