Although this year's event tilted markedly in the additive direction, suppliers of software, mold components and other more established products had plenty to offer.
Associate Editor, Modern Machine Shop
Glenn Starkey, president of U.S.-based Progressive Components, said mechanical cycle counters seemed like “the most popular mold components on Earth” when the company began to offer its first models in the 1990s. As this display in the company’s booth demonstrated, that technology has come a long way since then. Now available from AST Technology, a business unit of Progressive, the CVe Live system not only collects data, but does so in a way that makes that data meaningful. Using a website interface, the system enables real-time, remote monitoring of cycle times, quantity of cycles and other such data for tools anywhere in the globe. Users can generate graphs and reports for comparison, set up alerts for maintenance, retrieve assembly/disassembly instructions and more.
Another product on display at Progressive’s both were alignment locks that are guaranteed for the life of the mold. Key features include the slight radii on the edges of the blocks, which helps them fit together seamlessly like a gear, and the white, circular “particle rings,” which retain lubricant and capture dust and other contaminants. Materials are also important to the locks’ function. Male halves are made of H-13 salt-bath-nitrided tool steel ranging from 42-48 Rc. Female halves consist of D-2 tool steel with a titanium nitride coating and hardness of 58-62 Rc.
Synventive’s “Plug ‘n Play” hot runner systems ship ready to install to avoid the time and hassle associated with assembly, adjustment and mounting into the tool. Booth representatives said the company takes care to ensure these custom components perform well by minimizing contact points to optimize fit within the tool, incorporating the best type of gate geometry, incorporating various interchangeable components to ease service and maintenance, and more.
Look closely, and you might notice a faint horizontal line in the plastic automotive interior component on the left. The part on the right has no such imperfections, which are unacceptable to major OEMs, because it was molded using Synventive’s Synflow two-speed pin control technology for cascade or sequential valve gated hot runner systems. This system reduces the initial opening speed of the valve pin to prevent a rush of pressurized plastic and ensure a smooth fill.
Earlier this year, Dassault Systemes acquired Simpoe, a French developer of mold-flow simulation software. Booth representatives said the implications for users are significant. Previously, users of Simpoe’s software had two options: purchase the standalone version, with full functionality, or a version that had less functionality yet was integrated with Dassault’s Solidworks CAD system. Now, the fully integrated version, Solidworks Plastic, offers the full range of functionality. This includes not just filling and packing, but also co-injection, gas assist, multi-shot, overmolding and more, all without the need for separate modules.
Asked about features that make the WorkNC CAM system useful for moldmakers, personnel at Visi Software’s booth cited holder collision check and Auto 5. The first is notable because it not only determines whether a tool assembly is sufficiently long to avoid collisions, but also calculates the shortest possible length of the assembly to improve machining rigidity. The second feature saves programming time in five-axis applications by automatically calculating a collision-free angle for each portion of the workpiece geometry.
Representatives of U.S.-based Coldjet seemed particularly eager to showcase their dry-ice cleaning systems to European and Asian attendees, which hail from markets that they say have not embraced the technology to the same extent as North America. Popular for plastic and rubber molds, dry ice requires no cleaning, doesn’t mar critical surfaces, and is relatively inexpensive to operate, among other advantages cited by the company. Cold Jet systems can also be integrated with robotics, as shown here, for applications in which particles or other contaminants coming off the mold surface might make cleaning dangerous.
Among O.R. Laser’s latest offerings is the LPX system. Designed for marking, engraving and lettering and able to accommodate larger parts, the system features a 50-W laser and a linear motors on all axes. A high-resolution camera is said to provide an infinite field of view, which enables synchronizing the Cartesian system on-the-fly for continuous marking without stopping to position. The unit can also be fitted with welding and cutting heads, and it accepts design files in various formats, including STEP and IGES.
Uddeholm showcased Mirrax 40, a stainless tool steel supplied prehardened to 40 Rc. During refining, the material undergoes an extra step, remelting, that removes additional impurities and enables polishing to a fine surface finish. Other advantages are said to include corrosion resistance and easy machinability despite prehardening. The material is brand new to the North American market, although it has been employed in Europe for about two years.
Here are a few core mold and die products that caught my eye during the 2013 edition of Euromold in Frankfurt, Germany.