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Arburg Manufactures High-Tech Masks

Arburg has launched a face mask project to combat the spread of the coronavirus. 
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Arburg has launched a face mask project to combat the spread of the coronavirus. Since May 11, face masks are injection molded from liquid silicone rubber (LSR) and polypropylene (PP). About 3,500 multifunctional high-tech masks are expected to be produced daily under series production conditions. The product will initially be used to protect the company's own employees worldwide and will then be distributed as quickly as possible via the district of Freudenstadt to hospitals and care facilities.

The multifunctional product consists of a soft LSR mask that is put over the nose and mouth and a firm PP shield with eyelets for attaching elastic bands.  The opening is sealed with a flow gate to protect against infection in everyday life, e.g. for professional meetings or shopping at the supermarket. This diverts the breathing air downwards and thus significantly reduces the risk of infection.

The masks are designed for multiple use and can be easily sterilized, and in addition, the LSR has good sealing properties and a high tear resistance.

"We expect to produce at least 15,000 of these masks per week in two-shift operation. If we were to work around the clock, it would even be possible to double this number," explains Manuel Frick, the LSR expert at Arburg that designed the product. Two electric injection molding machines are being used for this purpose. An Allrounder 570 A with a clamping force of 2,000 kN produces the LSR masks at the Arburg Training Center using a 4-cavity mold from Polar-Form, while an Allrounder 470 E Golden Electric with a clamping force of 1,000 kN and a 2-cavity mold from Foboha simultaneously produces the associated PP shields at the Customer Center. The larger injection molding machine operates with a LSR dosing system from Elmet and a six-axis robot from Kuka, which, in a sophisticated demolding process, removes the flexible masks from the mold and places them on a conveyor belt. In the second machine, the PP shields are handled more easily by a linear Multilift Select robotic system. Finally, the PP shield is manually placed on the silicone mask with interlocking, this is completed with the corresponding elastic bands and packed. By using a temper-free LSR, this step can be carried out without disruptive production stops caused by the time-consuming and energy-intensive tempering of the component.

The first contingents of face masks are being distributed to the company's own employees worldwide and to partners who have been significantly involved. In the next step, the district of Freudenstadt will take over the additional coordination and distribution to hospitals, care facilities and civil defense organizations.