Friedrichshafen, Germany — Italy-based hot runner manufacturer HRSflow GmbH, a division of mold maker Inglass SpA, is touting the control capabilities of its FlexFlow system for injection molding complex, large-surface automotive applications.
At Fakuma 2018, the company showed FlexFlow One, the latest edition of the servo-electric driven valve gate system where an additional control unit is not required, on a new family mold for the one-shot production of three different-sized parts for the inner trim on a car door module.
The system manages the individual control of the servo-electric drivers for eight hot runner valve gate systems used in the application, the company said, enabling more precise control and regulation over pressures, flow rates and volumes of the melt in all three cavities.
"Thanks to FlexFlow, which is an electrical system, you can choose when you want to open the nozzle," company spokeswoman Erica Gaggiato said during an Oct. 16 interview at the company's Fakuma booth.
The Class A components are filled at the same time, she added.
HRSflow says the precise control prevents overfeeding and surface marks, especially on smaller parts.
Main applications for the FlexFlow system are for injection molding large-surface exterior and interior automotive parts such spoilers, front ends, instrument panel supports, door trims and headlights.
"One of the possible advantages that FlexFlow is giving you is to reduce the thickness of the part," said Simone Callegari, commercial director for the company. "This is one of the reasons — apart from the quality aspects of the part — why the end users and also the OEMs are interested in FlexFlow to reduce the weight of the part."
Callegari said about 90 percent of HRSflow's business is driven by the automotive market.
Partnerships with injection molding machinery makers, including KraussMaffei Group GmbH, Engel Holding GmbH and Wittmann Battenfeld GmbH, are also advancing applications where the FlexFlow system is used, he said.
"The next step — we're working with the injection machine producers now — is that they can adjust the process of the injection parameters directly on the injection machine, so what was normally done before on an external unit, they can now do directly on the injection machine," Callegari said.
HRSflow introduced the option of using the touch screen on injection molding machines to control the FlexFlow settings in June 2018. The company said this is a first step toward full system integration via Industry 4.0 methods to make FlexFlow technology smarter and the machine operator's job easier.
"With FlexFlow, you may have advantages on the surface of the parts [and] weight reduction, but also the advantage of the family mold where you can have one tool instead of two or three tools without changing the quality of the part," Callegari said.