A bucket becomes an A-pillar—thanks to circular economy
Packaging products fulfill their duty quickly. So, why not use them as raw material for new high-tech articles—in the automotive industry, for example? At K 2019, KraussMaffei is demonstrating how a bucket turns into a premium-quality panel of an A-pillar with over-molded fabric surface. A ZE 28 BluePower twin-screw extruder makes this possible by upcycling the material.
Under the keyword of the circular economy, KraussMaffei is linking its EXT (Extrusion), IMM (Injection Molding Machinery) and DSS (Digital & Service Solutions) business units at the trade fair. The GX 1100 injection molding machine with a clamping force of 11,000 kN, newly presented at the K trade show, produces buckets made of polypropylene, which are then shredded externally and fed back into the material circuit as regrind. Under the EdelweissCompounding brand, a ZE 28 BluePower twin-screw extruder produces technically enhanced recompound from it. For this purpose, pigments and a 20-percent proportion of talc are added to the polypropylene flakes. After underwater pelletizing and drying, the recompound is again available at high quality and with property patterns adapted to the following injection molding application. A material feeder conveys the polypropylene to the all-electric PX 320 injection molding machine, and then the polypropylene is formed in the cavity into a panel for an A-pillar. The component surface forms an over-molded layer of fabric.
EdelweissCompounding is intended to make on-site compounding more attractive to recycling companies and plastics manufacturers. KraussMaffei is the only company in the market that covers most of the plastic value chain. The Extrusion business area produces raw materials and semifinished products; Injection Molding Machinery—in combination with the respective automation—enables efficient production of high-tech components before extrusion takes its turn again to recycle these products.
"We view ourselves as enablers of circular economy for our customers so that they can be successful as part of this economy."
Digital backtracking throughout the entire circuit
Both in extrusion and injection molding, the third participating business unit at the K trade show is making its entry: Digital Service & Solutions with products such as APC Plus (Adaptive Process Control) and DataXplorer. APC Plus monitors the injection molding process and adapts it continuously to balance interference factors such as fluctuations between batches and in climate or changing recompound percentages. In injection molding, this is done via the material database stored in the machine and the online analysis of the melt viscosity and also by adjusting the holding pressure changeover point and the holding pressure level even within the same cycle. In extrusion, the melt temperature, pressure and screw speed are recorded. The DataXplorer makes a detailed view of the depth of the process possible because it is capable of storing up to 500 signals every 5 milliseconds as graphs—for instance, signals from the machine or the mold.
All data resulting from this is routed to the new data system, which is being introduced at K 2019. It is a central data collection point for all components within a production cell, which includes peripherals and automation. The customer can collect all information required for production monitoring and production flow control. Data export (for instance, to MES or ERP systems) is easy and can be implemented in a modular structure. Digital services help ensure the quality of production and products, prevent rejects, and thus also contribute to resource-conserving production.
Leading role in the implementation of circular economy
KraussMaffei's increased involvement in the field of circular economy is motivated by ecology and developments in society. "KraussMaffei is aware of its responsibility and, as one of the world market leaders, wants to occupy a leading role in the areas of recycling, upcycling and recompounding of plastics," declares Sieverding. Therefore, KraussMaffei is enhancing its joint effort with partners and customers to develop new business units regarding the reuse of plastics.
Ralf J. Dahl