ENGEL Tiebarless Presses Provide Breathing Room For Big Molds

ENGEL engineers worked in tandem with contract manufacturing and mold making specialists to help a leading, multinational supplier of life-saving products launch its first captive molding operation.

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ENGEL North America, member of the ENGEL group, a world leader in the design and manufacture of injection molding machines and parts-handling automation, has supplied technologically advanced, automated molding systems to LMA International (www.lmaco.com).

LMA designs, manufactures, markets, and distributes its innovative LMA™ laryngeal mask airway range of supraglottic airway devices, and its LMA™ Atomization devices for the administration of medication. Its LMA™ laryngeal mask airway devices are used by physicians to ensure proper respiration, ventilation, and support to the airways of patients undergoing surgical procedures and life-saving interventions, while its LMA Atomization™ devices provide healthcare professionals with a painless method of delivering medication to their patients, by obviating the need for needle injections.

LMA International will manufacture its flexible-PVC LMA™ Airway products with its new ENGELs at the organization's first captive injection molding facility, located in the Kulim Hi-Tech Park in Kulim, Kedah, Malaysia.

According to LMA International's William Crothers, Group CEO, the decision to bring molding capacity in-house was prompted by four key reasons: “To protect our intellectual property; to realize maximum reduction in the costs of goods and, by doing so, to be more competitive in the marketplace; to aid in future research and development; and to ensure a greater reliability of supply for our customers.”

A full-service project management, contract manufacturing, and systems engineering organization that specializes in medical device manufacturing projects—MEM, Inc. (Madison, CT, www.medexmadison.com)—was instrumental in supervising LMA International's initial venture into captive molding. MEM specified three tiebarless ENGEL victory combi injection molding machines for this project—two 330-ton machines and one 200-tonner. Each machine is equipped with an ENGEL viper servo robot, and with ENGEL's advanced CC200 control system.

“Although there are a couple of manual assembly steps involved in producing the finished products, we were hired to design the entire manufacturing phase of the process for LMA International, including automated assembly equipment that dispenses a UV-curable adhesive and performs robotic assembly of the critical components of the assembly,” says Rabon Schall, MEM's Engineering Manager. “Also, MEM’s president  Herb Dalo, created modifications to the part design, which eliminated some clinical issues as well as facilitated automated manufacturing.”

“I'd say we're familiar with what it takes to run PVC. We not only designed the process—we also assisted with the design of the company's entire manufacturing facility in Malaysia, right down to heat loading for its HVAC system.”

Uncomplicating Complexities

Advance Mold & Manufacturing Inc. (Manchester, CT; www.advancemold.com) designed and built the stainless steel, 4+4, two-shot molds for the project. Each is a hot-to-cold-runner mold capable of running two flexible PVC resins with two different durometers. The design of the finished product lent itself to the use of advanced two-shot molds, facilitating the molding of the first components, and then molding the second components around them.

“It was quite a project,” admits John Corraccio, AM&M's Program Manager. “Due to the complications of the part design, this project called for molds with rotating cores and sequencing complexities—complex molds for running complex parts. And the fact that these were PVC parts added even more intricacies to the project.”

“We used a Mold-Masters (www.moldmasters.com) hot-runner system—Mold-Masters wasn't afraid of it,” Corraccio continues. “The PVC had to move pretty quickly through the machine, since PVC easily tends to degrade. But, because of the part's shot-size, we were able to have fewer shots in the hot runner system at any given time. That reduced the residence time. The advantages of this two-shot part design are in decreased manufacturing costs, as well as in improved part quality.”

All the parties involved in the project agree that a major factor contributing to its success was the initial specification of ENGEL's tiebarless molding machines.

“When most people speak of 'machine tonnage,' they usually people think you need a lot of it, so you don't blow-open the clamp due to the molding surface area involved, and because the mold has to fit between the tiebars,” says AM&M's Corraccio. “In this case, though, with these tiebarless machines, we were not imprisoned by tiebars. So, this tiebarless feature reduces the overall mold costs, and the cost of the machines, as well.”

“I knew the actual part shot size wouldn't be that large, but I thought at first that the size and complexities of the molds would require at least 500 tons of clamping force. That didn't turn out to be the case,” adds MEM's Schall.

And Shaun Bogan of Gironi & Associates LLC (www.girioni.com), ENGEL's sales representative in New England, adds, “ENGEL's tiebarless victory machine lent itself extremely well to this particular project—a project that didn't require machine tonnage, as much as it did real-estate.”

“You'd have to see that mold. It looks like it should be running in a 700-ton machine.”