Objectives and content
The plastics processing industry in Europe needs to increase production efficiency and reduce the time to market for new components, in order to compete successfully with the Par East, where labour costs are much lower and new technology is being adopted rapidly. This project aims to meet these needs in the injection moulding sector by means of the following industrial objectives:
- To enable injection moulding companies to reduce the optimisation time for new products to be made ready for market by 50-70%, by June 2000.
- To enable the European injection moulding industry to increase production efficiency by 20-30%, in terms of material and equipment utilisation, by June 2000 for both virgin and recycled materials.
The main technical objective of the project is:
- To produce a prototype "OPTIM" system for automatically determining optimum injection moulding conditions, by June 1999.
The OPTIM system will measure plastic component properties and processing parameters in-line in a fully automatic way. A real-time artificial intelligence computer will use this data to determine optimum processing conditions, even when the material properties are changing, and to control the injection moulding machine.
The system will be used by industry to cut development times for new plastic products and in production to reduce cycle times, reduce scrap rates and enable plastic waste of variable quality to be processed more easily. In order to produce such a system innovative research is required in metrology, computer science, polymer science and production engineering.
The impact of the project is predicted to be the sale of 500 OPTIM systems within 5 years, enhanced ability to process 75,000 tonnes of recycled plastic waste per year, reduction in the injection moulding accident rate to below 1% per year and protection of many of the one million jobs in the sector.
The consortium includes 6 SMEs providing 76% of the industrial contribution, across 6 countries in Europe. The 5 main contractors are IBOS (a company specialising in advanced injection moulding control systems), NPL (a research organisation focusing on new measurement methods and international standards), Algosystems (an artificial intelligence software company), Armines (a materials processing research organisation) and G & W (a commercial supplier of optimisation products).
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts