Development of next generation moulding process for multi-phase polymer products

By integrating new generation mould, robots, working standards and people involvement, shorter production cycle time, better process capability at lower scrap, reduced material and energy consumption, a new, highly competitive production process will be developed.

By replacing metal parts with polymeric, car designers reduce weight and cost, decrease environmental impact as well as increase attractiveness. Many metal parts are too demanding to be replaced by polymers due to many reasons, in these cases designers try to use the best of two worlds and join simple metal pieces by injection moulded polymeric parts. These kinds of parts are much more demanding to manufacture, requiring producers to learn and develop new technologies, which takes significant investments in people and machinery. On the other hand, obtaining this capability raises the competitiveness of the whole supply chain, helping European car companies to compete globally. The main purpose of the proposed project is to develop a highly competitive multi-phase polymer moulding production process in the mid-sized company POLYCOM, by integrating new generation mould, robots, working standards and people involvement, shorter production cycle time, better process capability with lower scrap, and reduced material and energy consumption. The second aim of the project is to develop knowledge, skills, experience and processes for similar development projects. This will help the following projects in the company POLYCOM. Also, through the consulting, publishing and teaching work of partners it will have a broader geographical and sector impact. The project proposal is broken down into five work packages: - WP1 will be a marketing study, state-of-the-art technology and development gap determination, and detailed project planning. - WP2 will focus on the development of a next generation mould design that can cool a product down in shorter time. The starting point is the selection and characterisation of polymeric materials, especially their mechanical, adhesion, flow characteristics, as well as availability and price. Adhesion to metal surface measurements will be performed. To get to an optimal mould design, sets of possible constructions will be modelled and evaluated by FEA (Fast Ethernet Alliance) flow programs and economic calculations. Finally, drawings will be prepared for mould manufacturing. - WP3 will provide new automation. Detailed requirements will be defined first, followed by technical and economic modelling to develop optimal designs. Robots will handle all material inputs for the line, needs of metal part preheating, as well as removal of finished products into transport boxes. - WP4 integrates customer requirements, people and organisation into a highly competitive process. First, all functions’ representatives will be on the team, including purchasing, logistics, planning, operators, maintenance, machine shop, designers, quality assurance and sales. Performance parameters for product (strength, dimensions, surface, dynamic properties) and process (productivity, cost, capability) will be defined. Measurement system capability studies will follow, improving until results are reliable and repeatable. Starting with a larger set of influential parameters, partial Design of Experiment (DOE) will be performed on the line, determining the main technological parameters. This will be followed by a larger DOE experiment on a limited set of technological parameters, followed by statistical analysis to determine optimal technological settings. Another important area of work with a multifunctional team will be value stream mapping, getting everybody involved around graphical representation of the total supplier-to-customer flow. Team input, as well as cost calculations and Pareto analysis of issues will define steps and tasks to be designed anew or improved. Nothing will be left untouched: safety, people load, machine layout, work organisation, planning, preventive maintenance, management involvement, working standards and procedures, reporting, empowerment and responsibilities. Flow key indicators will be monitored and improved. - WP5 will be implementation. New mould and robots will be purchased, installed and debugged. A new line will be integrated into the organisation as described in WP4 that will run concurrently. Finally, results from larger production runs will experimentally prove that targets of significantly better quality, productivity, people involvement, better process capability with lower scrap, and reduced material and energy consumption have been achieved. The focus and the most important innovation of the project is integration of a new generation mould, robots and people into one seamless production system with best in class efficiency.
Project ID: 
4 960
Start date: 
Project Duration: 
Project costs: 
750 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Moulding, injection moulding, extrusion, sintering
Market Area: 
Polymer (plastics) materials

Raising the productivity and competitiveness of European businesses through technology. Boosting national economies on the international market, and strengthening the basis for sustainable prosperity and employment.