Maximum precision in the smallest space
Efficient fabrication of connectors live at K 2019

Today's car is full of sensors and automation. However, these can be controlled electronically only if correspondingly complex plug-in connections are present. At K 2019, KraussMaffei is demonstrating the crucial benefits on a CX 80 injection molding machine using an article with three metal inlays. These include the space-saving integration of the automation, high efficiency when positioning and overmolding the metal parts and an advanced downline inspection routine.

Text Petra Rehmet  Photos KraussMaffei

Rain sensors, parking assistant, lane keeping assist system—today's cars are intelligent and full of assistance systems and sensors, which have to interact simultaneously. Sensors in wind turbines are similarly complex. Here, up to 30 different pins often serve as wire jumpers. These can be controlled electronically only if correspondingly complex plug contacts are present. So that connectors like these can be produced in short cycle times, KraussMaffei Automation develops concepts in which multiple robots work hand-in-hand. At K 2019, KraussMaffei is demonstrating how this works with the minimum footprint using a plug with three completely different metal inlays.

Flexible, space-saving production

All of this takes place at the KraussMaffei trade show booth on a footprint of just 5.40 x 3.70 m. This includes a hydraulic CX 80 injection molding machine with a clamping force of 800 kN and connected automation cell—the heart of the production system, by itself, measures just 2.30 x 3.20 m. It is set on casters and can easily be docked to various machines using a toggle or removed just as easily for maintenance work. K visitors see the following sequence: With high precision, a high-tech gripper removes a contact pin and a sleeve from a double drawer and picks up a yoke plate that is fed using what is called an anyfeeder system. The anyfeeder is a flexible feed system with intelligent vibration platform and camera system. Interchangeable holders make it easy to adapt the double drawer to product variants. In any case, the anyfeeder system is able to position differently shaped parts through vibrations. 

Complex connector fabrication made easy:
Complex connector fabrication made easy:
At the K trade show, KraussMaffei is featuring a CX 80 injection molding machine and docked automation cell to demonstrate how this is possible with the highest precision on a minimum footprint

High insertion accuracy of under 0.1 mm

The contact pin is later responsible for the power supply, while the sleeve is responsible for the centering and the yoke plate can take over the grounding. The robot inserts these three metal parts into the mold with an insertion accuracy of under 0.1 mm, where they are overmolded with a fiberglass-reinforced polyamide in a cycle time of 30 seconds. The article weight is 25 g. The APC plus machine function ensures uniform molded part filling by controlling the changeover point from injection pressure to holdingpressure individually. The dimensional accuracy is an important quality feature for ensuring smooth installation of the connector downline.

Intricate components:
Intricate components:
Detailed view of the connector with the three metal inlays for the pin, sleeve and yoke plate

The robot removes the finished component and places in on a rotary table with six stations. This is followed by a camera inspection to ensure proper overmolding and completeness of the insertion part. Afterwards, a laser applies a QR code to the connector. The cycle is completed with the electrical test. Is the pin present, at the correct location and making contact, or are there unwanted interactions? "This is inspection step shows on a small scale the importance of correct function. The best example is wind turbines with up to 30 different pins. If just one of the pins does not work and the defect does not become evident until after installation or damages the soldered board, the damage can quickly run to the hundreds of thousands of euros," explains Marian Allmannsberger, Product Manager at KraussMaffei Automation.

Reliable tracking of OK and non-OK parts

Visitors to the K need only scan in the finished connector's QR code to gain insight into all process parameters of the entire component history. The new easyTrace data collection system from KraussMaffei ensures this. It serves as the connection between automation cell, injection molding machine and customer systems. Communication is possible in both directions and makes it possible to detect all nodes within the cell, enable production by a MES system and generate production data. Quality controls can include both the status of the inspection as well as further information including a camera image. The new easyTrace permits dynamic integration of additional stations and thus can grow individually with the requirements.

New 21.5" multitouch display

The control system of the CX 80 has a new a 21.5" diagonal multitouch display that features operation using gestures familiar from smart phones, such as zooming in on the displays using two fingers. The automation is operated centrally using a PLC control system with a design and function based on the familiar KraussMaffei MC6. This makes using it as convenient as possible for the user. This provides the ability to view and manage all process nodes.   The increasing automotive use of sensors and future e-mobility will continue to increase the need for complex connectors. Using the trade show application as an example, KraussMaffei is demonstrating efficient manufacturing and setting new standards with an extremely space-saving concept that can be scaled as desired and adapted to different requirements.

The partners for the CX 80 are the companies Schmelzer Formentechnik, Biesterfeld Plastic, Keyence Deutschland, SensoPart Industriesensorik, Rhein-Nadel-Automation, motan-colortronic, Uniform Color Company and gwk Gesellschaft Wärme Kältetechnik.


Marian Allmannsberger

Product Manager at KraussMaffei Automation