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Contenido archivado el 2024-05-07

Development of a High Speed Production Technology For Over-Moulded Filter Membranes


Of the 38,000 injection moulding, automation and toolmaking companies in Europe, around 75% are SMEs[1]. However, the current 100M ECU p.a. plus, over-moulded filter market for components fitted in, for example, coffee filter machines, water jugs, kettles, anti-lock braking systems, pollen filters and tracheotomy tubes, as used in the automotive, medical and white goods sectors, tends to be dominated by larger, often American technology led and owned companies, using traditional highly labour intensive manufacturing steps for their over-moulded filters. Over recent years, an alarming trend has developed for European manufacturers in the white goods, automotive and medical sectors, amongst others, to source moulded filters from a growing number of cheaper Pacific Rim manufacturers. Indeed, in recent years, many of the large companies dominating the over-moulded filter sector have established manufacturing operations in these areas to capitalise on the reduced labour costs. The shift away from European supply has the effect of taking with it the typical traditional supply chains for tooling, automation and injection moulding, causing increasing concern to the core group SMEs and market sectors they represent. Around 80% of the over-moulded filter market operates using the labour intensive, manual loading of two and three dimensional filter membranes into the more expensive vertical clamp injection moulding machines, with the remainder restricting their automation to 2 and 21/2 D filters, utilising the simple insertion of, in most cases manually, pre-cut membranes, as well as roll fed 'through the tool' type systems. Automation at this level has a significant cost penalty, as around 80% of the filter raw materials cost is accounted for by the filter membrane pre-cutting operation, typically carried out off-site, or by an external contractor, while the roll feed system is flawed by it's inability to nest the filter cutting operation thus maximising material usage. In this manner the cost of automating the process is frequently deemed prohibitive in comparison with manual loading, particularly when considering small batch sizes. The industrial objective of the proposed RTD is to provide European SME supply chain companies with an automated pre-form production, handling and over-moulding technology, with the following advantages over traditional manufacturing routes, yet providing a manufacturing cost reduction of up to 50%; Increased functionality, eg. full three dimensional filter production process .Process reliability improvement of 15 to 20% 100% recyclable filter Reduction in the number of process steps and therefore work in progress Fast filter component type change over time - To achieve this a number of technical objectives must be met, including: -Development of a tool construction technology to enable accurate location of the filter pre-form during the mould close and injection phases of the moulding operation, including use with cheaper, horizontal injection moulding machinery -Development of a cutting and nesting system to enable cost effective roll-fed filter membrane material utilisation, whilst maintaining the flexibility to operate with a number of filter pre-form shapes. -Development of a high speed automated handling technology for transferring pre-forms from individual plant elements to the tool, able to operate at a production efficiency of 90%, with a resulting repeatability of 0.25mm and any increase in mould open time of less than 3 seconds. -Development of a flexible system, capable of automation plant equipment changes within the injection moulding machine's tool change time

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CRS - Cooperative research contracts


Plastiques de France Industries S.A.
Aportación de la UE
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