SA Plastics

Ipex unveils its Innovation Centre

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It’s open – The cutting of the ribbon at the opening of the new Innovation Centre in Selby, Johannesburg, was a happy moment for the Ipex and Wittmann-Battenfeld teams. The machine and ancillary equipment has been supplied by WIBA for use in what is one of the first such injection moulding technology centres in the industry in South Africa. From left, John Davies (Ipex), Sean Kleingeld (Ipex), Rosina Bill (Ipex), Siegfried Köhler (WIBA), Bruce Allen (Ipex), Jenna Bradley Saunders (Ipex), Manfred Blumauer (WIBA) and Edmund Kirsch (WIBA)

IPEX Machinery has unveiled its new Innovation Centre, with just a single production cell on display – but what an impressive sight it is.

In full operation at the centre at the Ipex premises in Selby, Johannesburg, the demo production unit from Wittmann-Battenfeld included a SmartPower 110 injection moulding machine, the focus of the centre, along with a range of ancillary equipment from Wittmann.

The centre was officially opened during an ‘open house’ show in August when Ipex MD Bruce Allen and his team hosted their partners from Wittmann-Battenfeld (WIBA) of Austria and guests from the injection moulding sector around the country

One of the oldest names in injection moulding worldwide, having been established in 1876 (when it was a metal smith), Battenfeld was for many years one of the leaders in injection technology worldwide. One of its feats was building what was then the largest ever injection machine, an 8,000-ton system, in 1991. But the trajectory changed and Battenfeld was eventually bought by the Wittmann group of Austria in 2008. Established in 1976 by Dr Werner Wittmann, who remains at the helm of the merged companies, Wittmann group was by then an established leader in the manufacture of auxiliary equipment and automation systems.

The merger appears to have benefitted both parties: the designers of the Wittmann auxiliaries got to work more closely with the developers of the Battenfeld injection technology. The results have been impressive: Battenfeld now produces mainly smaller machines (although it does make a number of Macropower systems up to 2000 tons) that are integrated with its automation equipment. Its machines are characterised by a short footprint and generous mould mounting areas.

WIBA has gained traction through the merger and sales of its integrated injection systems, with the Wittmann auxiliaries, are up: according to WIBA sales director Siegie Khler, current sales in Europe are up as much as 30 percent. That’s due to demand from the automotive sector, which is particularly strong in Germany, as well as the packaging market.  WIBA’s machines are also popular in the micro injection sector.

Sales of WIBA systems in South Africa are also up, going mainly into the packaging and thin-wall sectors.

 

MacroPower

The MacroPower 110 machine is regarded as a versatile system, which is useful as the intention is for it to be used for customer mould trials. Its Unilog B6P control unit offers various possibilities for process control and documentation, which will be useful for users needing to train setters and technicians.

“The MacroPower machines feature a very small footprint, thanks to their highly compact, extremely rigid 3-platen design. They are highly energy-efficient due to a new space-saving and low-noise servomotor. A generously dimensioned mould mounting area and low-maintenance linear guides are further highlights of the new SmartPower,” a WIBA brochure outlined.

“The machine was designed around the mould area for the best possible combination of space and flexibility, smallest footprint due to the incorporation of the hydraulic system, including the high-pressure cylinder and main distribution block into the rear fixed platen coupled with the servo-hydraulic system,” said John Davies of Ipex.

“With the use of steel pipe work, the oil is not over-processed, increasing the life span of the oil and reducing required cooling allowing for almost 95%-plus of the supplied cooling water to be freed up or even turned off.

“All major moving parts are supported and guided by linear bearings, increasing the accuracy of movements and reducing the energy required to do so. The Kinetic Energy Recovery System stores the lost energy from this process and is released back into the system via the heating system and in a UPS type system that allows the industrial PC to stay energised for over one second with a power dip/spike,” said Davies.

The machine also achieves the largest tiebar clearance for easy mould handling, and injection unit can swivel to allow easy access to the screw for cleaning/servicing.

“Wittmann 4.0 allows seamless control of all connected ancillaries and allows the operator to save the entire production data to one point of control. The new B8 HMI touch panel allows customisation per user with a simple RFID tag, and the large screen allows for two process pages, allowing real time display of information while being able to adjust settings without having to return to pages for reference. Over 2000 options are available to meet all process requirements,” added Davies.

Convertors from around the country attended the opening of the Innovation Centre, which took place over three days in August.

  • The mould, for the production of PP tumblers, was supplied by Stratopak, a division of Plastic Bubbles. Plastic Bubbles, of Springs, also supplied the material.
  • Compact Cool supplied the chiller.
  • Skyland Masterbatch supplied some of the masterbatch used.