Pharmapack manufacturer goes with the activeFlow
German manufacturer elm-plastic GmbH is one of the latest precision manufacturers to realise the advantage of using activeFlowBalance from Sumitomo (SHI) Demag in its all-electric IntElect machine. In doing do, the producer of medical injectors has addres
Until recently, manufacturing flawless 8ml injectors in a 32-cavity mould had presented the elm-plastic engineers with a major challenge. When components with long flow paths also have small wall-thicknesses, as these have, difficulties can arise. The components in question have a prescribed wall-thickness of just 1 mm – while the flow path is longer than 100 mm.
To boost output rates without increasing production times, elm-plastic developed a 32-cavity mould in-house. But when they tried it on the company’s electric injection moulding machines, they encountered a big problem - uneven fill. Any increase in the injection pressure produced unwelcome burrs and defects. Using an electric test machine - a necessity in cleanroom production facilities - 24 evenly-filled cavities was the best result the manufacturer of oral dosing pipettes and injectors was able to accomplish. Rather than give in, the team set about exploring alternative options.
They tried mounting the 32-cavity mould on old hydraulic machines. Although this delivered the quality and even fill, the company had been moving over to all-electric systems for close to a decade and remain huge advocates of the benefits. “Electric machines offer a range of benefits for cleanroom production, while hydraulic machines always carry the risk of contamination,” emphasised Uwe Lehnert, Head of Production. “Moreover, we appreciate the increased precision of electric machines and their low maintenance requirements. And it is easy to deal with any errors that may occur.”
Only an electric IntElect machine made by Sumitomo (SHI) Demag equipped with activeFlowBalance met the customer’s exacting conditions on the 32-cavity mould. By fortunate coincidence, a Sales Engineer from Sumitomo (SHI) Demag was in the facility presenting this very system!
“When Sumitomo (SHI) Demag’s sales engineer offered us a solution to our problem, we were rather sceptical,“ Sascha Möhs, Managing Partner of elm-plastic GmbH, recalls. As a short-term solution the company had closed off some of the 32 cavities to achieve an even filling. “This was only temporary and rather inefficient, but it allowed us to eliminate all quality-related problems,“ Möhs explains. Even the company’s long-standing supplier of electric injection moulding machines was not able to offer a long-term answer. Spending half a day at Sumitomo (SHI) Demag’s test centre in Wiehe was enough to convert the elm-plastic team.
Self-confessed sceptics experience WOW moment
Sent in advance were the 32-cavity mould and sample LLDPE material. Sumitomo (SHI) Demag’s technicians had already prepared the setup in readiness for the arrival of self-confessed sceptics Möhs and Lehnert. First up was the test on an all-electric IntElect machine without activeFlowBalance. The results looked familiar: cavities were filled unevenly, meaning that some injectors were not fully formed or they were marred by burrs.
Prior to the next series of tests, the machine was equipped with activeFlowBalance. “That was a veritable wow moment. It took only one series of tests to produce 32 virtually immaculate components“, Möhs explains. “After a few minor adjustments, we were decided: the IntElect machine with activeFlowBalance is our long-term solution. Although scheduled, we did not require a second day in Wiehe.“ An order for an IntElect with a clamping force of 2,200 kN swiftly followed.
Up to 50% more output
“We realized that less was definitely more. We did not need higher clamping forces for these components. The activeFlowBalance feature ensures that all cavities are being filled evenly and that we fully meet our quality requirements while increasing our output rate by 50% compared with that of our injection moulding machines from other manufacturers,“ Möhs points out.
Today, elm-plastic’s IntElect 220 is running smoothly in a certified cleanroom. The machine was integrated into the production data acquisition system (PDA) for maximum production transparency and versatility.
Initially, elm-plastic’s machine setters were apprehensive about operating the new machine. “But it did not take long until we had it figured out,“ Lehnert concedes. “And (SHI) Demag offered to provide us with advanced training if required.”
“Sumitomo (SHI) Demag’s machines are now our first choice when we plan new acquisitions,” says Möhs.
Please find further information on activeFlowBalance here.