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Wittmann Battenfeld (WIBA) has reported that automation and robotics will play a key part in the forecasted growth for the company this year.

Barry Hill, WIBA managing director, anticipates a 50 per cent year-on-year growth in sales for the company through 2010.

He claimed that Wittmann’s Ecopower injection-moulding machine, which was launched at Fakuma three months ago, will provide a centrepiece around which many Wittmann robotic and automation developments can cluster.

The company’s R8 Robot Control includes Soft-Torque and Part-Track features, designed to facilitate fault-free mouldings at decreased cycle times.

The Soft-Torque Wittmann robot feature helps prevent equipment stress and part damage at the sensitive mould-ejection stage of the automation cycle.

The feature enables the removal of moulded parts via pure position control and motion, and for the the part to then be pushed or assisted into the end-of-arm tooling of the robot.

Hill said: ‘Soft-Torque has been designed to provide a better alternative to some current systems where the ejectors are deployed to push the whole robot arm, gripper and moulding back.

‘Soft-Torque, by contrast, ‘feels’ the pressure applied by ejectors and then computes just enough power to exactly synchronise with the ejector movement.

‘This reduces the load on the robot, the gripper and the moulding.’ Together with Soft-Torque, Wittmann has added the Part-Track programme to the capabilities of its R8 Robot Control.

This feature allows the Wittmann Robot to ‘follow’ finished mouldings on conveyors adjacent to the moulding area – or stand alone.

The Part-Track function means that the robot’s duties can be extended to such tasks as the stacking or labelling of finished parts.

With Part-Track, the Wittmann robot is able to automatically capture and match the speed of the conveying belt.

Objects on the conveyor can then be followed at any orientation to the robot and all programming can be done graphically on the Robot Teach In pendant.

Hill said that Fakuma 09 saw further refinements made to Wittmann’s automated In Mould Labelling (IML) capabilities and that the company’s research and development has brought the shape and appearance of IML operations more into line with everyday moulding operations.

Hill said: ‘We are introducing the W727 Flex system, which enables the placement of in-mould labels on the moving as well as fixed platen side, allowing the insertion of three-sided, five-sided or wraparound labels.’ The Wittmann Flex system is equipped as standard with ‘Lock and Fix’ mechanics, in order to allow a quick change of end-of-arm tooling and label magazine.

This year’s K 2010 is set to see Wittmann improve on the Fakuma 09 based system, which showed the company’s Xpress 201/1350 produce three varieties of packaging tub – 800, 1,180 and 1,500ml – via a modular and flexible two-cavity mould.

‘For the changeovers, just the inserts and the cores needed to be swapped and the total cycle time for the production of the mid-size tub was 5.5sec,’ Hill added.

‘We can we design, supply and install automation cells with all the extras and ancillary equipment in mind – for example material feed, recycling, granulation and energy use.’

Wittmann Battenfeld

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