Novi, Mich. — Ampacet LIAD is working with Eigen Innovations to improve color quality in plastic part production.
"During the pandemic, customers were flexible about quality, but now they're not," Ampacet LIAD Commercial Director Doug Brownfield said Sept. 20 at Injection Molding & Design Expo in Novi. "Now they want to eliminate quality problems through automation."
Eigen Innovation Director Josh Pickard added at the event that customers "want process-wide defect prevention … and technology that can explain what's important in the manufacturing process." Eigen is a machine vision technology firm based in Fredericton, New Brunswick.
Officials added that the partnership can allow plastics processors to avoid downtime and reduce scrap related to detection of defects and to color monitoring. The firms are integrating Ampacet LIAD's Spectro 4.0 color monitoring into Eigen's machine vision solutions to make a single solution for in-line quality monitoring and management.
Color metrics captured by the sensor are correlated with digital part records generated by Eigen's integrated machine vision solutions. In a news release, Pickard added that his firm's machine vision technology is designed to capture and correlate all the data that manufacturing teams need to assess quality and start avoiding defects.
He also said the collaboration with Ampacet LIAD "is exciting because it brings color metrics into our digital records." As a result of this inline color monitoring, color corrections can be made "on the fly" through Eigen's software.
Brownfield said in the release that Ampacet LIAD created Spectro 4.0 to allow plastic processors to accurately measure color during production in real time so that they can reduce scrap and lost production. "When we saw what Eigen was doing — generating digital records with correlated quality and process data and what those records enable — it was a no-brainer to bring our solutions together," he added.
Eigen's machine vision solutions use camera sensors, Edge processors, and machine and network connectivity to generate digital records with quality and process data on every part produced. Operators then can review records flagged by machine learning models trained and managed in the solution software.
Ampacet's Spectro 4.0 Smart Technologies is a patented color measurement system that offers in-line color measuring and correction capabilities. Combined, officials said that Spectro 4.0 and Eigen's machine vision solutions can greatly reduce downtime, consumption of expensive masterbatch concentrates, product rejects and the cost of scrap.
At IMD, Pickard cited an example of an injection molded vent cover that used both firms' technologies in the production process. The combined effort "reduced reliance on or eliminated manual inspection" of finished parts, he said. Brownfield added at the event that the combination provides processors with an advantage by using real-time color for quality control analytics and color optimization.
Spectro 4.0 is designed for injection molding, blow molding and extrusion processes. The technology also incorporates optional cloud services so each line's color performance can be verified wherever cellular service is available.
Ampacet LIAD launched Spectro 4.0 in early 2022. The first application of the technology was a color management system — including an in-line spectrophotometer — for finished parts. Ampacet LIAD is a unit of materials supplier Ampacet Corp. of Tarrytown, N.Y. The unit makes and assembles feeders and blenders at a facility in Misgav, Israel.
Ampacet is one of North America's 30 largest compounders and concentrate makers. The firm employs more than 2,000 at 25 manufacturing sites worldwide and has annual sales of more than $1 billion.