K 2016: Wittmann Group reaches forty in a busy year
2019-01-13

A giant, highly mobiles, puppet at the group's 40th anniversary event in Vienna

In this feature for PNE David Vink reports from Vienna and Kottingbrunn in Austria with a preview of Wittmann Group innovations at the forthcoming K 2016 fair.

Founded in 1976 with just seven employees making flow controllers for injection moulding machines, Wittmann Group has meanwhile grown to 2,050 employees with activities covering injection moulding machines, IML moulds, robots and ancillary items of drying systems, flow and temperature controllers and granulators.

The Wittmann Group’s 40th anniversary event in June, attended by 1,650 participants in a hall specially rented for the occasion at the Vienna fairgrounds, enabled the company to present machinery and technologies with product displays, live demonstrations and Wittmann Group staff presentations.

As a tradition at such Wittmann open houses in K fair years, this year’s event meant that “a good portion of the [group’s] K innovations are here in Vienna”, said CEO Michael Wittmann. K visitors can see these on the stands of Wittmann Battenfeld (Hall 16 Stand D22) and Wittmann Kunststoffger?te (Hall 10 Stand A04) at K 2016.

Fitted with a conventional keyboard for main functions, as well as foil keys, the new Unilog B8 injection moulding machine control system uses Windows 10 IoT (Internet of the Things) software. The 21.5-inch, full HD, swivelling and multi-touch screen therefore has swiping and zooming functions, dividing displays to show machine settings and Industry 4.0 (called “Wittmann 4.0” in the group’s products) status.

The B8 was displayed in Vienna on an EcoPower 110/350 machine. This was moulding a Reutter 2bar pressure automotive tank-locking cap, made from a Borealis PP grade, in 26.5s cycle time using a 4 cavity mould. The Unilog B8 will be available for the entire Power range of machines by K 2016 (EcoPower, MacroPower, MicroPower, SmartPower).

Micro moulding

A MicroPower 15/10H/10H micro moulding machine appeared for the first time, as it will at K 2016, as a Combimold two-component version, fitted with a rotary plate mould and Parallel injection units. It was moulding Ortofon audio recorder head parts with grey and blue POM components in 8.1s cycle time. The components weighed 93mg and 3mg, much less than the 140mg sprue.

It was the first time a MicroPower was equipped with a Cognex In-sight Vision System camera inspection system. A new 4-axis W8VS4 Scara (Selective Compliance Assembly Robot Arm) multi-axial robot handled parts. Ortofon has MicroPower 15 moulding machines in Nakskov, Denmark.

Another micro moulding novelty in Vienna was a MicroPower 15/10 with the usual 14mm diameter screw, equipped for the first time with a hot runner. It was moulding POM electronic connector parts of the Swiss company Küng, with dimensions 9.7mm x 4.8mm x 3.8mm and 0.05g weight. Using a hot runner instead of conventional sprues and runners cut cycle time (to 4.6s) and material consumption.

Wittmann Battenfeld talked about having a vertical rotary table Power machine at K 2016. It confirmed later it will be a new CM-R series tiebarless machine (CM 40/210 R1280) with 400 tonnes clamping force. Its servo-controlled injection unit is arranged vertically and carried by a vertical C-frame. There is free access between the two clamping cylinders and a Sick sensor system eliminates conventional safety protection.

In Vienna, a new W833 Pro robot worked with a SmartPower 240/130 machine using the Cellmould process for physical foam moulding. It produced a PC/ABS structural foam automotive bezel with 75.6s cycle time.

There were no signs of conventional foam structures or sink marks on the black high gloss top surface. This was achieved by reducing frozen stress by combining variotherm dynamic rapid heating and cooling (RHC) with a single?cavity BFmold ball-filled close contour mould.

The BFmold technology was developed by KIMW Kunststoff Institut Lüdenscheid. Since 2010, Wittmann Battenfeld has marketed BFmold worldwide for relatively flat parts such as bezels, as well as the front covers of espresso machines, desk telephoness and designer WC flush panels such as those made by Sanit. Low pressure and melt viscosity also enables overmoulding frames around glass pane inserts, as KIMW has shown.

The bezel top surface also had a partially fine-structured surface, its precise reproduction of the mould surface eased by lowered melt viscosity due to foaming, and also RHC enabling injection into a relatively hot cavity, avoiding premature melt front freezing.

New for the compact SmartPower series is a low-noise servo drive and the clamping force has been extended up to 350 tonnes, the machines now covering 160-350 tonnes.

A SmartPower 350/2250 was shown backmoulding a glass reinforced PP against a natural fibre reinforced PP composite sheet insert. The first material was black Fibremod GB303 HP, a 30% long glass fibre reinforced PP grade from Borealis, and the second was HACOsol N compression moulded non-woven natural fibre reinforced PP organic sheet from JH Ziegler. The insert was made in the production cell with use of Krelus infrared heaters. An edge-folding slider formed the sheet in the mould, where a punching die stamped out apertures during backmoulding. Cycle time in a single-cavity Georg Kaufmann mould was 58.8s.

A Wittmann W843 Pro robot, fitted with integrated insert needle and suction part removal grippers in the end-of-arm-tooling, handled unheated and hot organic sheet inserts and final mouldings. Wittmann Battenfeld ran the same demonstration with Ziegler participation at Plastimagen 2016 in Mexico City in March, on a larger MacroPower 450/2250.

Wittmann Battenfeld talked of high servo?hydraulic dynamics and efficiency on SmartPower machines, and high energy efficiency with the KERS kinetic energy retrievals system. Efficiency is also enhanced with HiQ-Cushion melt cushion control.

Ziegler has developed non-woven organic sheets based on basalt, glass and natural fibres (flax, hemp, kenaf), with NF versions used for automotive door and instrument panels. The company, which is targeting substitution of injection moulded panels, claims NF?PP organic sheet is a less expensive solution, with enhanced (splinter-free) crash performance and 30?40% lower weight, also due to variable thickness possibilities. It says making organic sheet preforms, it can cut customers’ processing effort, and it recycles off-cuts back into organic sheet production.

In a presentation at the June 2016 Automotive Interiors Expo in Stuttgart, Ziegler sales team leader Klaus Brokamp showed the same part as in Vienna, saying forming and simultaneously thermoplastic overmoulding NF-PP inserts should become fully automatic in future. The company started up non-woven (fleece) production in mid 2016 at a new ?25m plant five kilometres away from its Achern, Germany headquarters, and organic sheet production will also start there in mid 2017.

MacroPower machines

In-mould labelling (IML) was demonstrated at the Vienna event on a 10-litre PP packaging tub, moulded on a MacroPower E 500/2100 Hybrid with a servo-electric injection unit. Wittmann Battenfeld managing director Georg Tinschert said “a re-engineered IML production cell for even quicker changing of labels” would appear at K 2016. This cell will have a new EcoPower Xpress 400/1100+ all-electric machine, equipped with a Wittmann W837 IML and labelled lid handling system and camera-based optical inspection for good/bad part sorting. It will be moulding PP lids with 4.7s cycle time in a Greiner Packaging 8-cavity mould.

Aside from the MacroPower machine in Vienna, a MacroPower 450/5100H/2250Y was producing sandwich parts at the company’s Kottingbrunn injection moulding machine plant, where there was also a MacroPower 1100 machine working on Audi A6 Quattro grille trials for automotive moulder Wiegelmann.

Representing medical moulding, Wittmann Battenfeld showed in Vienna an EcoPower 110/350 Medical machine. To meet medical standards, the machine features nickel?plated platens, special detergent and disinfectant-resistant paint, food grade lubricants and stainless steel cavity separation. As will also be seen in a K 2016 demonstration, a Petek Reinraumtechnik laminar airflow box on the machine provided a mould area cleanroom environment. The demonstration involved a PEEK central pump component belonging to a Respimat inhaler, produced by B?hringer Ingelheim microParts. The parts are moulded with 0.34s cycle time in an 8-cavity mould.

Aside from new robots appearing in injection moulding machinery demonstrations, Wittmann Group CEO Michael Wittmann revealed that a new small WL80 (S) robot, with 2kg payload and three or five axes, designed mainly for pick-and-place operation, is sufficiently compact to work inside 30-60 tonnes moulding machines’ security fencing as an “insider”. He suggested it would also particularly interest Asian customers.

The WS80 standalone model with 1kg payload capability is now available for any make of injection moulding machine. At the other end of the scale, new W853/863 Pro models are aimed at 2,000-2,400 tonnes machines and have 50kg or 75kg payload capability.

Michael Wittmann claims the group’s new G-Max series granulators, starting with the G-Max 12, is the first granulator series in the market with a remote control box, which enables control within moulding machine security areas. He added that a new innovative hybrid rotor design, combining open and staggered blades, results in greater open spaces, benefiting cooling and enabling granulation of thicker parts.

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