The all-electric injection moulding (IM) IntElect2 range has roared ahead of the field with a launch accenting its high output and fast payback.

With its new motor design, the Sumitomo (SHI) Demag range provides a 24% increase in production output, up to 47% reduction in energy consumption, 62% faster machine return-on-investment (ROI) – typically around 18 months – and enhanced mould safety, when compared to an equivalent Systec Servo machine. Capital costs are around 12% lower than first-generation IntElect.

At a gala event at the Rockingham motorsport venue in June 2017, over 60 guests from leading UK injection moulders, including GCS, Bericap, Honeywell and Procter & Gamble (P&G), witnessed these benefits first-hand.

Combining top-level performance with an outstanding energy footprint, the complete machine series now features clamping forces of 500, 750, 1,000, 1,300 and 1,800 kN. At the launch, attendees were able to see the IntElect 50/360-110 machine equipped with a Sepro 5×15 robot. Both were in action producing four impressions of cardholders at a cycle time of 7.5 seconds.

“Currently, the UK injection moulding market is split 25% electric to 75% hydraulic,” MD of Sumitomo (SHI) Demag UK Nigel Flowers emphasised in his opening address. “A lack of commercial evidence that all-electric machines offer greater energy efficiency and enhanced precision has affected uptake and confidence within the plastics community – until now.”

Increasing production safety

Increasing production safety

Hard numbers

He continued: “We are now able to put into context the tangible benefits in relation to Total Cost of Ownership, with robust, hard statistics gathered from years of testing. By comparing machine performance, Sumitomo (SHI) Demag can accurately quantify the benefits for energy consumption, investment and planned maintenance costs, mould wear, output quality and machine footprint.”

Globally, the company has installed more than 60,000 all-electric machines.

Many of the IntElect’s enhancements can be attributed to the machine’s improved drive system, which is geared towards top dynamics, precision and repeatability. The new 400v motor design is shorter and features new types of spindle. Its encapsulated windings improve heat transmission, while the new load cell improves precision, in addition to reducing heat sensitivity.

“What we have developed is a new drive that perfects the interaction between the injection unit, clamping unit and ejectors,” Flowers explained. “Improvements in the dosing and injection process, mould movement, IU and control operations are plain to see.”

IntElect2 on average 10% smaller than equivalent all-electric models

IntElect2 on average 10% smaller than equivalent all-electric models

New tests demonstrate that, compared with its predecessors in the IntElect and Systec ranges, IntElect2 is the most energy efficient all-electric range of machines on the market. Results show the machines use 20% less energy than the competition, without compromising on performance.

In dry cycling, the IntElect 500 uses 2.15 kW/h. This compares with2.4 kW/h used in simply boiling a kettle.

Attendees at the event were also shown some of the finer points of the machine design.

“We wanted to prove to the audience how the new Finite Element Modelling (FEM)-assisted centre press plates deliver improved clamp force distribution. Combined with the control linear guidance, they offer maximum in-mould protection should a foreign object enter the mould,” explained process and training engineer James Hines.

High-safety, low-maintenance

Moulders praised machine’s 47% reduced energy use at launch

Moulders praised machine’s 47% reduced energy use at launch

Hines demonstrated the efficiency of the new and highly-sensitive activeProtect mould safety system by dropping an apple into a closing mould. The fruit emerged virtually unscathed.

He went on to outline how developments, combining up to 30% stiffness improvement in the moving and stationery platens with enhanced linear guidance, have increased production safety.

Other features include the highly-optimised axis control, which is applied during the changeover from injection to hold, and single-valve technology, which is able to reduce lubricant consumption by 50%. Taken together, these features can significantly reduce the frequency of scheduled mould maintenance, potentially doubling the period between service interventions and saving on average €780 per annum on lubricants.

Dave Austin, senior processing engineer from Hi-Tech Mouldings Ltd, was among those commenting on the IntElect2’s simplified design. “This makes it easier to keep clean and maintain,” he said. “It also provides users with better access to the nozzle guard and clamp, which would help make maintenance less cumbersome and time-consuming.”

Thanks to the more compact drive system, the IntElect2 is on average 10% smaller than comparable all-electric IM machines. Even the smallest model is half a metre shorter than the first-generation equivalent.