Custom molder and mold maker Matrix Tooling Inc./Matrix Plastics Products is using an Engel vertical press to insert-mold thermoplastic elastomer surgical catheter tubes with stainless-steel needles that are nearly 5 inches long.
“It's a pretty complicated job,” said Andy Ziegenhorn, Matrix molding accounts manager, in an Aug. 14 news release from Engel Machinery Inc. in York, Pa.
“One of the reasons we chose the Engel was the flexibility of the controller. It allowed us to handle the mechanics of the tool and also allows for future improvements to the process, such as cutting the catheter tube to length within the mold.”
The system is built around a 45-ton Engel insert 80V/45 vertical injection molding machine. The press includes dual core-pulls, a two-station rotary table and a servomotor-controlled injection unit that incorporates a high-temperature barrel package.
“We're still in the initial stages with this project and we are hand-loading the inserts at the present time,” Ziegenhorn said. “[But] we have realized there are many automation possibilities. We plan to automate this process with a side-entry robot as the production volumes ramp up.”
Matrix has about 50 employees at its 30,000-square-foot headquarters plant in Wood Dale, where it designs and builds its own molds. It operates a combination of 14 electric and hydraulic molding machines with clamping forces of 5-300 tons. Two of those presses are used in its Class 100,000 clean room.
“The startup on this complicated mold — a mold with removable core mandrels — was flawless,” added Patrick Collins, Matrix molding operations manager. “The mold has two ejector halves that rotate on the turntable. As the one side is being injected with plastic, the other is being ejected and loaded.”
Matrix produces some 20 million parts per year for medical/ surgical, electronics, military and consumer-products markets. It does assembly, sonic welding, labeling and laser marking.