According to PlasticsEurope, the EU countries produce 58 million tonnes of plastic each year, about half of which becomes waste. Each year 25 million tonnes of plastic waste are dumped in Europe and only 30% of it is recycled, 39% is incinerated and 30% is landfilled. On January 16, 2018, the European Commission adopted the “European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy “, which is part of the transition to the sustainable use of resources.
In an effort to contribute to achieving Strategy goals, the Bulgarian company Askania Casting Ltd. developed and implemented a pilot project – resource efficient and innovative technological line for production of plastic parts for fans, which aims to prevent the formation of plastic waste in the existing production of the company, thus contributing to the sustainable development of the Bulgarian and European economy. The implementation of the new technology is a major change in the whole production process. At the heart of the innovative production line is a device for detecting and controlling changes in the properties of the material during the injection molding process, which is patented with two patents – Patent № US 9,475,226 B2 / 25.10.2016 and Patent № US 9 481 119 B2 / 01.11.-2016.
In order to ensure the optimal functioning of the device, all stages and units of production have been modernized. After purchasing a new injection molding machine with the relevant technical and functional characteristics, an iMFLUX device has been installed on it, as well as injection molds of a new type – with a hot nozzle, which allow the correct operation of the device and achieve optimal results in production, not only in terms of achieving a lack of plastic scrap, but also in terms of improving the quality of injection-molded plastic parts. The use of the injection molds with a hot nozzle leads to the absence of a funnel, and results to saving of plastic material and minimum produced defect details.
Additionally the plastic that solidifies in the injection molding machine when changing a tool /injection mold/,during the initial start-up or after a stop for changing of the material, is of good quality due to temperature control of the melt. Therefore, after grinding with a plastic grinder, the parts can be used again after mixing with virgin material. This leads to full use of the raw plastic material and the absence of production waste and significantly increases the resource efficiency of the manufacturing process. The introduction of the new technology also leads to a significant reduction in the use of freshwater. The implemented technological solution is a production (process) innovation. In practice, the innovation is the set of high-tech injection molding machine on which the patented iMFLUX device is mounted to detect and control changes in the properties of the material during the injection molding process.
iMFLUX helps to improve the process parameters as the melt enters the injection mold – allowing for quick filling of the mold and subsequent uniform holding pressure, which leads to higher part quality and material savings. This is the result of the physical measurement and active control of the pressure and temperature of the melt that enters the injection mold, which provides real-time material feedback and the opportunity to control the melt within milliseconds. The new technology provides unprecedented advantages for injection molding machine control, and can integrate and simplify the product design and the production processes based on the recommended pressure limits for injection molding, packaging, retention and optimization of temperature ranges and to save material without lessening the technological and functional characteristics of the product.
- How does iMFLUX improve the injection molding process
With iMFLUX, the injection molding process is closed with absolute uniformity – cycle by cycle. The low constant pressure during the process removes some irreversible processes from conventional injection molding. The design of the part and the mold guide the iMFLUX at what speed to fill the socket in order to maintain the filling pressure. For tools with many sockets – constant pressure is distributed to all parts. Each socket from the first cycle to the last will be filled with the same pressure and will produce the same quality parts.
- Lower injection pressure
- A smaller machine can be used for the same product
- Faster cycles
- Improved quality the final product
- Better CPX index (statistical index for the capabilities of a process within certain limits)
- Improved OEE index (overall equipment efficiency)
- Less operator intervention
- Automatic adjustment when changing the viscosity and other injection molding conditions
- Less scrap
- Less need for maintenance
iMFLUX can compensate for variations in the matrix-machine interaction process, but also the way material is fed. The same volume of production will be manufactured for less time, with lower levels of energy consumption.