plastic mould, injection mould

Finding gems at Euromold 2012 show

The Euromold 2012 fair taking place in Frankfurt on 27-30 November will have some 1,500 exhibitors and an expected 60,000 trade visitors. The traditional focus on mould and toolmaking still accounts for 32.8% of exhibitors at the 2012 show, but other focus areas are also coming to the fore.

Rapid prototyping and manufacturing technologies will be located in the "house of creation" (Hall 11.0). As in previous years, this will also contain "theme parks" covering design/engineering and materials for young designers, universities and design bureaus, and it will also have a new engineering service suppliers theme park.

At the 2012 show, rapid technologies account for 11.2% of exhibitors, model-making and prototype production 10.5% and design groups 7.3%. Hall 11.0 also hosts a new congress on photonics in production process chains on 28-29 November, covering laser generative and ablative processes.

A new B2B matchmaking area is in hall 8.0, alongside a display of candidates for the Euromold innovation award that from among which three winners will be chosen.

For the first time at the fair, the Purmundus design bureau will present awards for 3D printed jewellery. There is also a jewellery industry theme park in hall 11.0.

Other new theme parks are devoted to moulds for rotational moulding (Hall 8.0) and technical thermoforming (Hall 9.0).

Some Euromold exhibitors made presentations at a pre-fair briefing in July. One of them was Envisiontec (11.0, D89), whose managing director Martin Forth said the company introduced its first digital light processing (DLP) 3D printing system in 1999, making the first sale for jewellery applications in 2003. The company's Perfactory system was introduced in 2003 and the Perfactory Desktop followed in 2007.

Other milestones arrived this year, for example when Envisiontec offered a DLP printer with a price for less than 13,000. The company says it has installed 4,000 DLP machines at customer facilities.

In the global market, Forth said there are approximately 50,000 3D printing machines installed worldwide, of which 4,000 are used for jewellery. In the large Asian jewellery market, 600 3D printing machines are installed each year and this rate is growing at 5% annually, he said.

Forth said most 3D printed jewellery applications are metal items, with 3D printing providing advantages of precision, superior surface finish, low cost and high speed to meet rapidly fluctuating fashion trends. But polymer jewellery parts are also around and are easily electroplated due to ceramic and metallic content in the resins. This enables sample kits and sales examples to be quickly made, with the same appearance as final metal jewellery items.

Another exhibitor, 3D Systems (11.0, F110), revealed that its stereolithography (SLA) equipment and Accura Sapphire resins have been used to make a number of jewellery items since Accura's introduction at Euromold 2011. Its printers are used by design group Fresh Fiber to make the plastic Posh, Shrunk and Evil series of Icon Snap jewellery items designed by Brian Garrett.

Another design group, Freedom of Creation, is using EOS machines and both unfilled and Alumide aluminium filled PA12 to produce a number of selective laser sintered (SLS) rings.

According to Euromold organiser Demat, the German and Italian jewellery industry is "traditionally one of the world's leading manufacturers and exporters". Demat cites Dr Gianluigi Barettoni, president of the Italian jewellery machines association Afemo, as saying Euromold offers an excellent development platform for the jewellery industry.

Other developments at Euromold 2012 include advances in materials. Belland Technology (11.0, F148) will show a thermoplastic with a 110C softening point that dissolves in water and/or alkalies. The material can be processed on conventional injection moulding and thermoforming machinery at up to 250C. It can also be made into soluble coatings, films, fibres, fleece and adhesives. One application particularly relevant to Euromold is soluble foam for lost-core processes.

Carbo Kohlensäurewerke (9.0 E41) is showing its CarboBlaster. This is mould cleaning equipment which uses carbon dioxide dry ice pellets, and which the company says is as easy to use as a vacuum cleaner.

The Direct Manufacturing Research Centre (DMRC) (11.0, C92) exhibits again with partners Blue Production, Stkerjrgen Aerospace Composites, Wilhelm Eisenhuth and Paderborn university. The DMRC consortium was founded with nine companies: Boeing, Evonik, EOS, SLM Solutions, Stratasys, Siemens and the above-mentioned partners; and it says it is open to new members.

Financial support from members and the Federal German state of North Rhine Westphalia has leveraged member contributions 20 times, so that DMRC has 11m available for additive production projects up to 2016. The projects are serviced by a team of eight professors and 15 scientists and cover laser sintering (LS), selective laser melting (SLM) and fused deposition modelling (FDM). DMRC says it will present some project results at Euromold 2012.

Injection mould components producer Hasco (8.0, F27) will introduce a new quick mould-change system involving Clever Mold clamping. This is suitable for prototype tools and small-scale series production and makes "maximum utilisation of mould plate geometries", said Hasco.

Temperature control connections have been improved and a new Tempflex system enables temperature control beyond limits of traditional drilled mould heating/cooling channels.

The company adds that improvements have been made to mould slides and thread demoulding processes. In hot runners, a new Valve Gate Shot needle closure nozzle is aimed primarily at process optimisation and improved service-friendliness in the packaging scetor at what the company calls "an attractive system price".

Nonnenmann (9.0, E30) will exhibit the third version of its Isoform mould insulation system that enables only mould inserts and mould cavities and their contours to be heated, instead of the entire tool. This cuts energy consumption with injection moulding tools in the heating-up stage by 80-95%, needing one third to one fifth of the time compared with conventional tooling.

Ceramic centering elements form the only direct contact to the hot mould inserts and the surrounding mould carrier, ensuring thermal separation of the air-insulated solution. Isoform's IsoWe ("isolierte Werkzeug": meaning insulated tool) technology was developed by Konstruktionsbro Hein with support from the BMBF Federal German education and research ministry and is marketed by Nonnenmann as Hein's project partner.

Polymeroptix will show its optical component mouldmaking and injection moulding competence. The firm's moulding activity was strengthened in May 2011 with its acquisition of pharmaceutical moulding facilities in St Austell, UK from West Pharmaceutical Services.

Mould components producer Rainer Knarr (8.0, K10) presents recently developed cooling deflection baffles in glass fibre reinforced PA66. The baffles improve cooling medium effectiveness by increasing turbulence within mould cooling pipes better than with conventional brass baffles. Knarr will also exhibit Thermoldskin mould insulation sheets, avaliable in white (providing 0.12 W/mK insulation) or green (0.1 W/mK). Company owner Rainer Knarr says the sheets reduce loss of energy from moulds, benefit part quality and protect operators from accidental burns.

At Euromold, Italian rapid prototyping and manufacturing company Skorpion Engineering (11.0, A132) will promote its capabilities, including: silicone moulds, "giant size" SLA parts up to 2,000 x 1,000 x 1,000mm using Objet's Polyjet technology Connex equipment, FDM, laser sintering and reaction injection moulding (RIM). Plastics prototypes can be metallised, painted or provided with wood or carbon fibre surfaces. Latest developments include application of nano particles to increase physical and mechanical properties.

A recent example of the company's work in SLA is the "algorithmic design" of Alfa Romeo's Pandion concept car rear grille. The design incorporates multiple crystal-like blades intertwined in varying widths and lengths. The car was designed by Michael Vernon Robinson, brand and design director at Stile Bertone, and was shown at the Salon d'Automobile 2010 in Geneva.

Solidworks Deutschland (11.0, E06) will show the Dassault Systmes Plastics 2012 software for prediction and avoidance of manufacturing defects during the design phase of plastic parts and injection moulds. The new software, based on technology from French simulation software company Simpoe, was launched in the US in April and has meanwhile been rolling out in other countries.

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