LS Mtron launches new AI-based smart injection molding system
LS Mtron Injection Molding Machines has introduced a new Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based smart injection system.
This new technology features two systems, the AI Molding Assistant and Smart Weight Control. The AI Molding Assistant is a condition derivation system which dramatically reduces the time for stabilizing the initial molding setup process by learning and imitating the behavior of highly skilled molding specialists through AI technology. Smart Weight Control detects any weight change of products using the software of the injection molding machine and alters the processing conditions in real time to fix any deviations and meet the correct product specifications.
LS Mtron demonstrated these two new systems by holding a molding demonstration at its R&D facility at the Korea Mold Center in Bucheon, Gyeonggi-do, Korea in January. LS Mtron’s researchers were joined by Park Chan-sung, the head of LS Mtron's business division, and officials from LS Mtron’s founding company, LG Electronics, to see the new technology in action.
“This technology is the next step that LS Mtron is taking towards creating the smart injection molding factory of the future,” said Peter Gardner, business director at LS Mtron Injection Molding Machine North America. “It will help molders achieve improved part quality, reduced costs, higher productivity and faster deliveries.”
A practical and realistic Smart Factory for injection molding
“Smart Factory” is the general term that indicates the innovative changes taking place in manufacturing plants with Industry 4.0. It also refers to an “intelligent” manufacturing plant that improves productivity, quality, and customer satisfaction by applying the information and communication technology (ICT) that combines digital automation solutions to manufacturing processes such as design, development, manufacturing, distribution, and logistics.
In other words, it is a factory that can collect and analyze the process data in real-time by implementing the Internet of Things (IoT) in facilities and machines of the factory, thereby controlling the data on its own as desired.
However, while there are some exceptions, the plastics manufacturing industry still often sticks to the traditional manufacturing methods in which humans have been leading the way. In plastics, the “Smart Factory” still has a long way to go for implementation in actual factory environments. Because of this, LS Mtron has focused on the development of this practical and realistic technology, an AI-based system that allows for true “smart injection” solutions.
AI Molding Assistant learns, then performs expert molding
The first task of injection molding begins with setting up an initial molding process, which is typically led by a skilled molding professional engineer. Since the time required to establish an initial process and the best part quality depend on operator proficiency, it can be difficult to set and repeat the process conditions optimized for manufacturing the best quality plastic parts.
The advantage that AI technology can provide is that it automatically reduces the deviations in manufacturing efficiency that can occur due to human error.
The LS Mtron AI Molding Assistant can “learn” optimal conditions when setting the initial molding process for new molded products. Once programmed, it can set and repeat the most optimized molding process while only requiring simple and intuitive operator intervention.
"Because the system learns and imitates the pre-set optimal molding conditions, it can implement consistent processes regardless of the machine operator’s work proficiency, as well as reduce time,” Gardner said.
In addition, he added, “A recent lab test at LS Mtron showed that operators who used the AI Molding Assistant were able to set up the optimal conditions for good products 23% faster on average than the highly skilled operators who did not use the system.”
Gardner stressed the importance of this system as a remedy for many molders who are having trouble finding skilled workers.
"In the current situation where we are seeing a serious labor shortage, the AI Molding Assistant will be an attractive solution in the field," he said.
Smart Weight Control System prevents defective parts
The repeated injection molding process can cause defects due to certain variables. Once the production of good products has been achieved, it is important to maintain quality part consistency.
Since one of the most important factors in the quality of injection molded parts is maintaining constant weight, LS Mtron has developed its new Smart Weight Control System. Several factors can contribute to weight change in molded parts, including changes in the temperature and humidity of the manufacturing environment as well as changes in the physical properties of resin. When a change in the weight of the product occurs, this system automatically detects this and alters the molding parameters to correct the issue.
By calibrating product weight fluctuations using the Smart Weight Control system, it is possible to lower the product defects by changing the process automatically in real-time. Issues that occur due to injection pressure fluctuations or resin and compound inconsistencies can be corrected automatically. While the new Smart Weight Control features use the machine’s software to calculate weight differentials, a real time part weight scale can be added to feedback actual part weight into the machine’s AI system, giving even greater precision to the weight control.
Other LS Mtron Smart Machine controls
LS Mtron’s latest development of AI Molding Assistant and Smart Weight Control adds to the their suite of Industry 4.0 machine capabilities, including Smart Data Interfaces (Modbus2.0, Euromap63, Euromap77) Smart Mold Recognition utilizing RFID or Barcode, Smart Monitoring and Smart Production control using EasyNet software from controller supplier KEBA, Smart Equipment control, allowing for control of all auxiliaries by the machines main controller, and Smart Remote Service, allowing LS Mtron’s engineers to troubleshoot remotely or even update software online.
For more information, visit lsmtron.com.