Innovative products in additive manufacturing, mold technology and design software will be featured at the annual Euromold fair. European Plastics News senior editor David Vink takes an exclusive look at some of the developments that will be displayed at the show Dec. 1-4 in Frankfurt, Germany.
Examples of additive rapid prototyping and manufacturing will be shown on equipment supplier stands as well as e-manufacturing for everyone product displays.
Many companies will show low-cost, three-dimensional printers, including PolyJet printing technology firm Objet Geometries.
Objet said hundreds of customers worldwide use its Alaris30 desktop 3-D printer and quoted a TA Grimm & Associates benchmark study of 3-D printers that cost less than $25,000. According to the study, the Alaris30 offers the best quality with highest total accumulated marks for durability, surface finish, dimensional accuracy and feature details.
Z Corp.'s has launched two new value-priced printers the monochrome ZPrinter 150 and the multicolor ZPrinter 250.
Z Corp. said the new models have low operating costs and run at five to 10 times faster than competitors' 3-D printers. ZPrinter models are also the only 3-D printers that can print several colors simultaneously, the company added.
The larger ZBuilder Ultra machine was introduced in mid-2009 by Envisiontec as its Ultra digital light processing model; it is now marketed by Z Corp. and Envisiontec under their respective brands.
CEO John Kawola said the Ultra light cures a liquid-based photopolymer into an ABS that is as good in quality as polypropylene. The printer delivers the performance of a high-end plastic prototyping system at one-third the price of stereolithography machines, he said. Plastic prototypes made with the Ultra rival the accuracy, material properties and surface finish of injection molded parts, the firm claims.
Moving on to Euromold's focus on mold technology, Asco Carbon Dioxide has introduced the Ascojet 908K, a dry-ice blasting unit for chemical-free cleaning of molds used in the plastics industry. Dry-ice cleaning reduces costs by minimizing machine downtime and the mold and tool wear caused by cleaning.
Another dry-ice cleaning system specialist at Euromold is Cold Jet Inc. of Cincinnati. It will show an automated CMB line, a one-to-six cleaning distribution unit and a cleaning cabin it developed with German cleaning-line specialist Krummtec.
Cold Jet said injection and blow molders can cut production down-time by 80 percent to 15-20 minutes by using dry-ice cleaning to remove plastic material and in-mold labeling deposits. Cleaning can be done without demounting the mold and while the mold is still hot. The system eliminates problems such as waxy paraffin deposits that can lead to orange-peel surfaces on bottles.
Dry ice cleaning is also suitable for removing isocyanate and mold-release wax deposits from polyurethane foam molds, said Cold Jet.
Another form of inline mold maintenance is being promoted by Dieburg, Germany-based OR Laser. The company has created a portable IQ Laser unit, which features an Nd:YAG laser to repair a mold in situ, again avoiding mold demounting.
According to Eitan Reznik, sales manager for Germany at OR Laser, studies show that a mold weighing 10 tonnes needs around 15 hours for mold demounting, transport, handling, welding, post-welding and spotting press work and mold remounting. The IQ laser unit, on the other hand, needs 2.5 hours: 15 minutes for positioning at the machine, 20 for laser treatment and 90 for post-welding work at the molding machine and restarting.
Due to inline repair capability, our IQ Laser is as fast as the fire brigade and saves users a lot of time, said Reznik.
German appliance producer Vorwerk is a fan of the IQ Laser.
Two days' downtime with a 5-tonne heavy injection molding tool, and downtime costs of thousands of euros, is quite normal, said Alexander Popov, toolmaking department manager at Vorwerk. With the IQ Laser, we weld directly in the tool with a 0.2 mm-welding wire. The small 0.1mm weld bead is polished off by hand and perfect parts come out of the injection molding machine within two hours.
Fraunhofer IPT production technology institute is showing a multiple insert demonstration tool it is using to finish mold surfaces. The individual inserts are produced in different mold steels and finished with different polishing techniques. The institute will show a defect chart on its stand that classifies the polishing defects and recommends machine, material and process strategies to avoid them.
In terms of mold componnets, Austria's Meusburger will show new products including recirculating ball bushings for ejector sets, two-stage single-stroke ejectors and wear plates with oil grooves.
The bushings take up little space. The two-stage, single-stroke ejectors can move independently, making the ejectors suitable for sprue-cutting and de-molding operations.
No Euromold fair is complete without software. This year, rapid prototyping specialist Materialise is introducing the new free MiniMagics2 STL inspection and compression software, an upgrade of its MiniMagics product.
Dutch company Schouenberg & Partners is exhibiting CalcMaster interactive injection molding software that can be used with I-Know 3-D molding software. CalcMaster interrelates product de- sign, tool, molding costs and even final article cost. It can be used with single-cavity, multicavity and stack-mold tools and takes into account cycle times, flow path length-to-wall thickness ratio, injection pressure and injection press clamping force.
Schouenberg also has two new development products. The first, CoolMaster, is a mold-cooling optimization and calculation tool that calculates total heat balance based on the temperature between the product's outer walls and cooling channels.
The second, MechMaster, calculates mold and cavity deformation, as well as ejection and opening forces.
Simcon is launching CadMold 3-D-F 2K & Insert software, designed to help molders, moldmakers and designers develop two-component and insert-molded parts.
The company said the software estimates filling behavior and predicts the degree of washing out or melting of the primary component caused by injecting the secondary component.