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Automating the injection molding process

Promatrix is making increasingly smarter use of automating injection molding processes.

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14-12-2023
Blog

Automation is increasingly being used in technology. Logical processes with clear rules that previously required a lot of human labor are being replaced by machines and robots. At Promatrix we also make smart use of automation. And of course, we like to go a step further by looking at automating processes that are not immediately obvious. Michael and Albert Timmerarends, both Process Engineer Injection Moulding at Promatrix, will tell you about this.

In the last two to three years standard processes such as manually removing products from the machine have been replaced at Promatrix by robot arms that place the products on a conveyor belt. “The injection molding of plastic products is a continuous process,” says Michael. “Changing times affect this process negatively. If you put a person behind the machine, you don’t have exactly the same pace. With injection molding it is important that you have the same cycle time every time. If you don’t have that, the quality of your product will vary. Automating this process therefore has a major positive impact on the product. Possible with any material and in any shape.”

Even better quality and speed

“In addition to the quality, the pace is increasing,” Albert adds. “We recently had a product running on our 300ton injection moulding machine, the first 10,000 of which we made by hand. It took us two and a half weeks to produce 2,500 pieces. After writing a fairly simple robot program, we did the other 7,500 in one week. A week later we had to produce another 10,000 units of the same product. We immediately automated it and production then only took us four days. The automation allowed the machine to continue running unmanned, even in the evening and at night. This reduces the lead time and allows us to deliver our products to our customers much faster.”

Afbeelding in het midden

Not always the best choice

“It becomes interesting to automate when a customer orders more than a small series,” says Michael. “For a product with 30 or 50 pieces, designing and creating the automation takes longer than the manual work involved. In addition, there are parts that are more difficult to automate, such as the post-processing of products. Because how can you be sure that the robot always does the same action? How do you guarantee that a hole is always drilled in the right place in your product? And how do you limit tolerance in your work area? Accurate programs must be designed for this. We will also take further steps in this next year.”

How is the automation made?

“We are working on automation both when requesting new products and when producing existing series,” says Albert. “When automating existing processes, the order comes via the injection molding manager. Then we walk to the drawing room and discuss the gripper that needs to be made for this. A gripper is the specially designed head for the standard holder of the robot head and is different for every product and every action. As soon as the wishes are clear, we build the gripper and the required robot program, so that the robot can get started.”

Afbeelding in het midden

Interesting from medium-sized series

“For every new customer who purchases products with a minimum edition of, for example, 5,000 pieces, we think about automation from the start of the process. We can then ensure an optimal mold design right from the start, to which the automation of the injection molding process can easily be applied. A first design of the gripper is immediately devised. One of our draftsmen will then be instructed to further develop the gripper in detail. The required parts are made by our milling facility, our 3D printer is used or parts are ordered. Then it is up to us to assemble the gripper in addition to the customer’s molds. Then the automation of the injection molding process can start during the test injection molding of the mold.”

What can we do for you?

Curious about how we can help you with the injection molding of your plastic products? We are happy to use our acquired knowledge and experience for you. Check out our website for more information or contact info@promatrix.nl

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