2020 in review: Have that injection molding machine take a deep breath

Nov. 23, 2020
One more example of leveling the playing field for recycled resin, plus looking for the flux capacitor and plastics processors’ best reason for saving energy.

There were lots of memorable stories and new products in the pages of Plastics Machinery Magazinein 2020. Before moving on to 2021, it is worth remembering a few of the most interesting, as selected by PMM editors and writers. We are highlighting a few stories each week between now and the end of the year. 

Have that injection molding machine take a deep breath 

What a doctor hears when listening to your heart with a stethoscope gives her a good idea if there is a problem that needs to be fixed. So why not use the same tried-and-true principle on your injection molding machine? 

Japan’s Fanuc Corp. won a U.S. patent for a device that uses a microphone or series of microphones that can be connected with wires or wirelessly to monitor the sounds of an IMM’s bearings, ball screws, ball screw nuts, toggle bushes and slides. 

Fanuc claims that the secret of the device is that it can overcome interference from background noise. It says the technology can detect the sound of an abnormality at an early stage.   

In addition to microphones, the system includes a sound-data acquisition unit, a sound comparator and an abnormality determiner. The sound comparator compares what it hears with a reference sound, and the abnormality determiner uses the sound comparator’s results to decide if a moving part is in an abnormal state. 


Leveling the playing field for recycled resin 

Most of us don’t think much about corrugated drainage pipe, but kudos to the organizations that developed standards for using recycled resin in highway drainage pipe  the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM).

Recycled content has long been used in some drainage pipe, but it had never gained approval for use under highways. The two organizations extensively tested pipe with recycled content and found it performed as well as pipe made from only virgin resin. 

The standards mean a potentially huge new market for recycled resin. Another example of how recycled resin can compete with virgin resin when the playing field is level. 


Does it come with a flux capacitor? 

With apologies to Dr. Emmett Brown and his time-traveling DeLorean, 3-D printer manufacturer Fortify’s Flux One digital light projection printer sounds like something from “Back to the Future. It can evenly distribute additives within the resin and precisely align reinforcing fibers as it prints parts. 

The unit’s Continuous Kinetic Mixing module blends standard liquid photopolymer resin and additivesand heats the mixture to keep the additives evenly distributed.

The Fluxprint module controls a magnetic field that can orient all the magnetically responsive fibers suspended in the liquid resin. Boston-based Fortify says Flux One can direct its UV light to cure resin down to the voxel level. A voxel is akin to a pixel in 2-D printing and is the individual building block of a 3-D print. 

Marty McFly does not need to drive 88 miles per hour in the DeLorean to bring back this new technology.  


Quote of the week 

“There are lots of people who tried to sell … sustainability as the main message. That’s ‘Let’s save energy for the sake of the environment,’ but the thing that really ticks the boxes for plastics processors is energy management to save money.”  

– Robin Kent, managing director of U.K.-based Tangram Technology and energy-management guru, on the value of managing energy costin plastics processing plants. 


Previous installments of our look back at 2020: