On the 35th anniversary of the injection moulding machine (IMM) by FCS, the company looks back to the development and application of multi-component injection moulding technique in China.
According to recent yearly market surveys, the volume of current global injection moulding machine market (IMM) is about US$13 billion. Multi-component injection moulding technique, started in the 1960s by German companies, is widely adopted and more popular. The two-component injection moulding technique has not caught on in China prior to 2000. However, Taiwan played an important role as the global electronics foundry by introducing the two-component moulding technique in the 1990’s.
Among the many IMM companies in the China region, FCS is renowned for its dedicated two-component IMM, divided into rotary table, rotary shaft, electric, sandwich, and interval model. The company has developed four series of models consisting of more than 30 specifications, and the mould clamping force ranges from 135 tonnes to 1,900 tonnes. In 2018 alone, FCS has sold more than 4,500 multi-component injection moulding machines, and the cumulative sales volume has exceeded NT$10 billion.
The company started out in 1984 with the launch of its first generation two-component IMM (KT-300D). This two-component process was used, not only in 3C product industry such as for the production of mouse, buttons, knobs, remote controls, grips, and game consoles but also in cosmetics product packaging.
Development of large size two-component IMM
In 2001, FCS launched a large-size two-component IMM (FB-1000R) with a mould clamping force of 1,000 tonnes and a diameter of 1.6m, mainly for automotive industry applications. Before the introduction of FB-1000R, if the plastic product manufacturers wanted to produce large-size two-component products, it was very costly. In addition, the maintenance was inconvenient and manufacturers could not meet the special function requirements. After the launch of FB-1000R, it not only ended the technological monopoly of imported machines, but filled the gap of the domestic large-size two-component IMM. Furthermore, it won the Taiwan Excellence Award in 2002.
Meanwhile, the Taiwan plant of FCS continued the R&D of large-size two-component IMM and launched a super-large two platen horizontal rotary table two-component IMM (HB-1900R) with a mould clamping force of 1,900 tonnes. This particular model won the Ringier Technology Innovation Award and the Taiwan Excellence Award in 2017. Later, the super large two-platen two-component IMM (LM-3200LB) with a clamping force of 3,200 tonnes was introduced in 2013. As the largest two platen two-component IMM in China, it can produce both single-colour and two-component products, which increases the investment efficiency.
Precision development of two-component IMM Hybrid model
FCS first introduced the AE series high-speed hybrid IMM in 2001, which combines oil and electrical structures. With a cost lower than that of electric IMM, the hybrid IMM can effectively improve the high energy consumption and low accuracy of traditional oil IMM, thus greatly reducing pollution and noise. The overall injection accuracy and stability of the hybrid IMM are equal to those of the electric models, making it applicable to produce super thin parts and fine complex precision products. Basically, the launch of FCS AE series has advanced the high-end injection industry to a new stage.
FCS then applied this technique to the two-component IMM, and launched the high-speed closed-loop hybrid two-component IMM (HB-250Y) in the same year, which drives the screw feed through an electric servo motor. This is equipped with accumulator and high-speed injection device to form a hybrid multi-circuit system. This model was awarded the “Excellence Award” in the “Innovative Product Competition for Plastic Rubber Machinery R&D” at the Taipei International Rubber and Plastics Industry Exhibition in 2001 and the “Taiwan Excellence Award” in 2002.
Professional development of two-component IMM
In December 2001, Ningbo FCS was established. At that time, the ordinary IMM had already been saturated in China. After three years, the “dedicated pen-making two-component IMM” (FB-200R) was introduced. This highly popular IMM enjoys wider mould space, faster and more precise turntable positioning, movable centre distance, shorter moulding cycle, and higher product yield. In the end, top five enterprises in the entire Chinese pen-making industry adopted the FCS two-component IMM, which increased the popularity of FCS two-component IMM in the mainland market. This machine not only promotes the upgrade of the Chinese pen-making industry, but also the development of the two-component IMM in the mainland.
Application of two-component IMM in various industries
Since 2000, the global mobile phone industry has been booming, and the demand for mobile phones has increased tremendously. Given this scenario, FCS launched the FB-140R dedicated button-making two-component IMM for the mobile phone industry in 2004. This model has improved the efficiency and accuracy of the original injection elements. After the launch, it not only has been adopted by domestic customers, but was well received by a large number of Korean mobile phone manufacturers. The long-term high sales performance of this model once again proves that FCS two-component IMM not only meets the customer needs, but creates higher customer profits.
After 2006, the application of the two-component IMM has been extended to automotive spare parts industry (lights and interior & exterior decoration). The FCS models of over 1,000 tonnes are basically targeted at the automotive light industry, and sold in over 10 production regions in China. FCS large-size two-component IMM focuses on the bearing capacity and positioning accuracy of turntable as well as the plasticising design of injection element, which promotes the rapid development of multi-colour moulding technique and multi-component interior/exterior products in the Chinese automotive industry.
In the advent of thin laptops such as Apple’s Macbook Air, computer and laptop companies in China have released their own versions of thin portable devices. In answer to this, FCS launched the high-precision two-component IMM dedicated for thin laptop computers in 2014, the FB-700R and FB-850R series. These medium-sized two-component IMMs have greatly improved turntable speed, positioning accuracy, mould-closing accuracy, and injection speed. It is these high-precision features that make them especially suitable for thin, high flow ratio, and sophisticated electronic products. After the launch, they proved to be very popular in the market and helped develop new application fields for medium-size domestic two-component IMM.
As mentioned above, the classic FCS two-component IMM, FB-260R is widely applied in medical equipment industry in addition to the cosmetics industry, including dual-layer syringes with light barrier properties, breathing masks, and medical packaging covers. However, the application of two-component moulding technique in medical products must consider clean room space, height, production area cleanliness, heat source emission control, waste rate control and other factors. In order to meet these special needs, FCS improved this model and launched the two-component IMM dedicated for medical products, which has been adopted by domestic and foreign medical equipment companies.
Future trend for multi-component IMM
The key issue for future IMM equipment is the development of multi-component moulding technique and automation peripherals. Therefore, the technical integration and co-development of IMM, moulds and automation peripherals is the key to the development of multi-component moulding technique. In the future, the two-platen horizontal rotary table multi-component IMM will keep developing.
Looking back on its 35-year development process, FCS has launched two-colour, tri-colour to four-colour IMM, from two-station to multi-tasking, from small capacity to large capacity, from vertical turning to horizontal turning, from hydraulic drive to servo drive, and from dedicated machines to multi-functional machines. The core development concept of FCS is to “lead the development of Chinese’s multi-component moulding technique, promote the application of multi-component moulding technique become the best alternative brand for imported machines, and create higher efficiency for customers.
FCS hopes that the industrial peers will abandon the counterfeiting competition, strengthen independent technological innovation, improve the cultivation of multi-component technical talents, and jointly make greater contributions to the sustainable development of multi-component moulding technique in China.