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Outlook 2018: Smart molding trends

Source:Plastics News Asia

Date Published:12/5/2017 09:12:29 AM

Mr. Michael Wittmann gives his views on how smart machines will mold the future of the plastics industry
With the trend toward higher functionality in each plastic component, as well as lightweight parts for the automotive sector and here particularly e-mobility, we are experiencing increased interest in our multi-component machines, as well as our foaming process, CELLMOULD® and gas-assist technology, AIRMOULD®. This trend will certainly continue into and beyond the year 2018. Furthermore and in the context of the general Industry 4.0 initiative toward “smart machines”, the ability to connect various peripheral equipment to create an intelligent molding workcell is of highest importance to molders. 
Each peripheral equipment connected to the injection molding machine and communicating its condition and process parameters widens the ability of the machine to better monitor the molding process. This creates an adaptive system, able to respond to various effects from the environment. This results in higher quality parts with less reject and more stable processes.  The WITTMANN Group has developed for this purpose a molding workcell technology, called Wittmann 4.0, which allows to plug equipment into the machine and to immediately start the production without elaborate configuration and setup of the workcell. This is achieved through the automatic recognition of the connected equipment and the automatic transfer of the corresponding parameters to each equipment.
Michael Wittmann
Mr. Michael Wittmann, General Manager of  WITTMANN Kunststoffgeräte GmbH
We have several expansion projects in process or close to completion. In process are currently the expansion of the assembly area in our molding machine plant in Kottingbrunn/Austria. The completion will be in April 2018 and will effectively close to double the capacity of our large-tonnage MacroPower machines. Also, several office buildings in Kottingbrunn are equally doubled in space. Due to the high demand for automation systems, two more plant expansions are in process. The first one is in our plant in the Czech Republic and the second expansion in our automation plant in Nuremberg, Germany. The expansion of the robot plant in Vienna/Austria has been recently finalized and will be followed by an expansion of our material handling plant in Wolkersdorf/Austria, to be finalized end of 2018. All expansions together are desperately needed to meet the increasing demand for our products.
With the first introduction of our fast running, fully electric EcoXpress machine at the “K” show 2018 and the presentation of the next size up (400 t and 500 t), we are foreseeing a wider entry into the packaging market. In addition, we are equally paying high attention to the expansion of our offerings to the medical market. The presentation of our new robot control system R9 with the implementation of a digital twin for online testing and animating sequences, will allow a further expansion into the automation market. Overall the topic of connectivity and open-architecture for data exchange, storage and analysis is of particular interest for molders and opens many new applications for quality control and process improvements. We strongly believe that a closer monitoring of the molding process with inline process technology (we call them HiQ technologies, e.g. HiQ Flow), as well as external “sensors” (Wittmann 4.0) will continue its steep path of growth.
WITTMANN Kunststoffgeräte GmbH
Tel: +43 1 250 39-0
Fax + 43 1 259 71-70



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