Toshiba Machine Co. America officials delivered a message at its Chicago Technology Seminar, July 20-21: Toshiba is much more than a supplier of injection presses.
For one thing, Toshiba makes beam robots and Scara robots - and Koichi Takeda, a salesman for the company's robot group, said more U.S. plastic processors are taking a hard look at Scaras as they do more beside-the-press assembly. A compact Scara robot picks up a part, then quickly spins and moves the part to another location. A Toshiba Scara equipped with a vision system can grab parts laid out randomly on a moving conveyor belt.
At the technology seminar in Elk Grove Village, Takeda said Toshiba wants to raise U.S. sales of its robots, which can be used on any brand of injection press. Company officials are looking for U.S. distributors and, especially for the Scaras, for system integrators, the firms that set up complete automation cells at factories.
Toshiba this year introduced its TH series of Scara robots, which operate twice as fast as its SR series. TH robots come in five models, depending on arm length, 18, 22, 34 and 42 inches. The largest model, the TH1050, can carry parts up to 44 pounds.
Takeda said Toshiba makes its own robot controllers and motors and assembles the robots in Japan.
Scara stands for selective compliance assembly robot arm.
Toshiba, of course, is still best-known for its injection molding machines. Kazz Takamura, vice president and general manager of Toshiba America, said Toshiba Machine wants to sell more than 3,000 injection presses a year within three years, up from the current 2,000 a year worldwide.
In addition to robots and injection presses, the Tokyo-based parent company Toshiba Machine Co. Ltd. offers machining centers, die-casting machines, and even machines that clean by blasting surfaces with pressurized air and water.
Toshiba Machine held the seminar to kick off its 3,000-square-foot training center and classroom, which officially opened in January at its U.S. headquarters in Elk Grove Village. The training center used to be across the street from the head office. The company closed that site and moved the technical facility into the headquarters building.
The seminar was held in the new classroom. Michael Werner, technical sales manager for injection molding machines, said it's a major improvement. ``We went from roll-away carts and laptops, to now everything is integrated,'' he said. Toshiba hosts classes and runs customer mold trials.
Toshiba spent about $500,000 on the technical training center in Elk Grove Village. The second-level classroom overlooks the machine floor, where four Toshiba all-electric presses were running during the seminar. An EC press with 240 tons of clamping force molded two-material cell phone housings, on a rotary turntable mold provided by MGS Manufacturing Group. A work cell linked two 45-ton EC presses together to mold a liquid silicone rubber part, which was transferred between the machines by a Toshiba Scara robot. A fourth machine, a 180-ton EC, molded a part using the MuCell process from Trexel Inc.
Toshiba has steadily invested in training centers in the United States, said Floyd Pierson, manager of Toshiba's technical center group. In Ontario, Calif., Toshiba is building an 18,200-square-foot West Coast facility to bring its operations under one roof. The operation is now housed in three buildings, he said.
Toshiba also runs a training center, with four machines and a classroom, at its office in Randolph, N.J.
At the Chicago Technology Seminar, attendees also heard how the precision of Toshiba's EC and ECN all-electric injection presses make them well-suited for micromolding and liquid silicone rubber.
``With a good position-controlled electric machine, the clamp repeatability is measured in thousands of an inch,'' Werner said. A 5-ton EC has a micro-sized shot of 0.05-gram.
``It's very possible in true micromolding that one [resin] pellet can make up to 500 parts,'' Werner said.
One Toshiba feature, called FIT, means that, as resin viscosity changes, the press maintains exact shot-to-shot weight consistency. Another feature, called Plastrol, improves repeatability of the shot, presets the check ring and lowers screw flight pressure.
Werner said Toshiba presses with clamping forces of 50 tons and lower are appropriate for micromolding.
Position and speed control, combined with the real-time self-correcting technology of Toshiba's all-electrics, also are important for LSR molding, said Mike Parnell, Toshiba's technical engineer for plastics machinery. ``You don't want any variation. You have to be very delicate with this,'' he said.
In LSR molding, two components are mixed in a static mixer, then pumped into the barrel. The thermoset LSR sets up in a heated mold, the opposite of traditional thermoplastic molding where a chilled mold cools the part.
Toshiba devoted several presentations on LSR molding at the conference, including Kingston Mold & Machine Ltd., GE Advanced Materials and Fluid Automation Inc.. Other speakers including experts from PolyOne Corp., Spirex Corp., Priamus System Technologies LLC., MGS and Trexel.