As an Industry 4.0 and digitalisation pioneer in the plastics industry, Arburg will once again be presenting innovative practical solutions for the “Digital Factory” at Hannover Messe from 1 to 4 April 2019. This year’s highlight at stand J10 in hall 6 will be the “AM (Additive Manufacturing) Factory”: A turnkey system will produce vacuum grippers in six different versions “on demand”, in a fully automated and 100 percent traceable process. The new ATCM (Arburg Turnkey Control Module) SCADA system collects, visualises and transmits the relevant process data. Arburg will also be presenting its new customer portal and the ALS host computer system, a special MES solution for plastics processors.
“With more than 30 years of experience in IT-networked production, we are pioneers in our industry in terms of digitalisation and Industry 4.0. I am convinced that a combination of additive manufacturing, automation and digitalisation offers enormous potential and will make plastics processing companies fit for the future,” says Heinz Gaub, Managing Director Technology & Engineering at Arburg. “We will present an outstanding practical example of this in our new ‘AM Factory’: A fully automated and networked turnkey system built around a Freeformer 300-3X for industrial additive manufacturing will manufacture 100 percent traceable, individualised gripper variants.”
AM Factory: Gripper variants based on customer requirements
The idea behind the AM Factory is to additively manufacture or enhance small-volume batches or single-unit parts fully automatically – including in autonomous overnight production. At Hannover Messe 2019, the production of vacuum grippers for chess pieces will be demonstrated as an example. There is a separate gripper variant with matching geometry for each piece – queen, king, bishop, knight, rook or pawn. The central elements of the turnkey system consist of a Freeformer 300-3X, a six-axis robot and the Arburg Turnkey Control Module (ATCM) SCADA system. In addition, the AM Factory uses a modular and scalable safety controller that Arburg has developed especially for complex turnkey systems in order to meet the continuously increasing safety requirements.
Individualised parts created step by step
The instruction to produce the desired gripper variant is initially started at a terminal. In the ATCM, each part automatically receives a unique number (ID). All handling is performed by a Kuka six-axis robot. It removes a gripper base plate from the shaft magazine and forwards it to the “laser engraving” station, where it is marked with a DM code, making it uniquely traceable. The part is placed on a workpiece carrier, plasma-treated in the next station and scanned before it is inserted into the Freeformer build chamber. The Freeformer 300-3X then completes the desired functional shape according to the stored 3D printing order in around three minutes, using the elastomer TPU (Desmopan 9370). The finished vacuum gripper is removed, scanned again and undergoes a tactile functional test while still in the production cell. For this purpose, the desired chess piece is picked up via vacuum and moved on the chess board.
The ATCM handles the recording and merging of process and quality data. Via an HMI (Human Machine Interface) terminal with touch panel, it also visualises the important functions of the entire production cell. Data transfer is carried out via the OPC UA communication platform. Each vacuum gripper is 100 percent traceable via its DM code. After scanning the code, relevant production data such as build time, material, droplet count and build chamber temperature are displayed on an individual website.
Freeformer: open system processes original materials
The Freeformer 300-3X can be easily integrated into networked production lines via an automated process. Automatic opening and closing of the build chamber door is carried out via optional robot interfaces. With its three directly heated discharge units, the new large machine can produce complex and resilient functional components in a hard/soft combination from two plastic components plus support material. The Arburg Plastic Freeforming (APF) system also offers great freedom in terms of materials and is therefore referred to as an open system. The process is based on qualified original plastics in the form of inexpensive granulates, which are also used in injection moulding.
In terms of industries and areas of application, the Freeformer has virtually no limits. Above and beyond the additive manufacture of one-off parts and small-volume batches, high-volume parts can also be enhanced and individualised in batches as small as a single unit by combining additive manufacturing, injection moulding and Industry 4.0 technologies. Individualised plastic parts for consumer goods, one-off medical parts (implants), equipment as well as functional spare parts are ideally suited industrial applications. Visitors will be able to test the functionality and quality of selected parts at an interactive station.
“Integrated Lightweight Plaza”: Freeformer for lightweight construction
The areas of lightweight construction and functional integration are also of interest in the context of the APF process. Bionically optimised components, for example, can be designed and produced without having to consider the technical production constraints that apply to injection moulding. To showcase this application at Hannover Messe 2019, Arburg will be displaying a Freeformer 200-3X as part of the “Integrated Lightweight Plaza” special exhibition (hall 5). Manuel Wöhrle, Senior Sales Manager Lightweight at Arburg, will also give a presentation on innovative lightweight construction processes in additive manufacturing and injection moulding as part of the “Forum Industrial Supply” (hall 4) on 2 April 2019.
Industry pioneer in the field of digitalisation
Arburg’s portfolio for IT-networked and production-efficient plastic part manufacturing ranges from digital assistance packages for Allrounder injection moulding machines to predictive maintenance, the company’s own MES, the customer portal and remote service.
The ALS host computer system has been Arburg’s specific MES for injection moulding production since 1986 and has been continuously developed ever since. As a central component of Industry 4.0, ALS permits the online exchange of data across production facilities and locations (horizontal integration) as well as via a PPC/ERP system (vertical integration). Arburg will demonstrate how the ALS records and archives all relevant production and quality data and provides feedback and key data on machines, due maintenance, current orders and production quality – including for mobile applications.
In addition, Arburg is advancing the digitalisation of its business processes and services. The new customer portal provides a variety of services in a clear, well coordinated manner via a cloud-based solution. As central applications (apps), the company will introduce and explain the “Machine Center”, which contains important information and documents for each machine, the “Shop” for ordering spare parts and the “Service Center”. Once enabled, the required applications and services can be used on a PC or mobile device.
Press release from ARBURG