With speed to market being a top priority for many OEMs today, manufacturers are constantly looking for ways to make their processes quicker and more efficient. In 2018, this often means having certain tasks automated by robots, software, or other machines, and the injection molding industry is no different.
While it’s true that the people behind the process are crucial for injection molding’s success, automated production processes are also key for the consistent and efficient production of defect free parts. Though we hate to admit it, humans make mistakes, and automated processes can minimize, and even eliminate, human error in certain scenarios. This means creating the same product every time, in higher volumes and less time.
Ready to see it in action? Watch below to learn more about automation’s role in injection molding today, and see how it can be used to help increase efficiency and reliability:
When it comes to automation in injection molding, you think of a couple different things. It could be robots or secondary operations; it could be robots used to take parts out of a mold; or it could be robots to put inserts or substrates into a mold when it comes to insert molding. Automation also has applications for your welded parts and assemblies — putting things like O-rings on parts, machining parts, anything like that where you can use a robot or some sort of mechanical device to perform a task instead of a human. The big goal is to have consistent cycles, and also reduce cycles — typically automation can do things faster than people can, as well as more consistently.
A good example is one of our customers – we make a brake valve body component. It has multiple secondary operations, including a machining operation, six or seven ultrasonically welded parts or caps that get put on, and there’s an air decay leak test on this part. And all that is performed by a set of robots before an operator ever touches the plastic part. So the quality of the part and the output of that workcell increases significantly as opposed to if we had human operators doing all of those processes.
When you’re talking about complex and/or tight tolerance injection molding, it’s critical to have consistent cycle. If you can imagine, we have hot material going into a cold mold. That mold heats up, any surfaces that are touching the plastic heat up, and then begin to cool down immediately. If a person is running that press and, for example, one cycle is two seconds longer than the previous cycle, well then the temperature of that mold is going to be different, and when the hot plastic gets shot in for the next cycle, that’s actually changing the process because that material is seeing different conditions. So your actual plastic part will really cool differently than the previous shot.
When you have automation, every cycle is exactly the same, every time, so your repeatability goes up significantly from shot to shot.
Want to learn more about how you can streamline the injection molding process today? Download our eBook, How Manufacturers Can Accelerate Speed to Market.