NPE 2009 International Plastics Exposition Show Review

NPE 2009 International Plastics Exposition Show Review

 
By Bill Lydon - Contributing Editor
 
June 22-26, 2009, Chicago's McCormick Place
 
Attendance was down, but the show floor activity indicated that attendees are cautiously optimistic about business improving. The trade show had 1,851 exhibiting companies occupying 977,660 sq.ft. (88,000 sq.m.) and an estimated attendance of 44,000 visitors. The NPE 2009 international plastics exposition is a triennial event produced by SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association. Founded in 1937, SPI represents the third largest manufacturing industry in the United States. SPI's member companies represent the entire plastics industry supply chain, including processors, machinery and equipment manufacturers, and raw materials suppliers.  The U.S. plastics industry employs 1.1 million workers and provides nearly $379 billion in annual shipments.
 
A Chicago pipe and drum corps provided the bagpipe music that traditionally celebrates the opening of NPE.
 
NextEngine – 3D Cloning Machine!
The NextEngine is the coolest thing I saw at the show. For $2,995 this 3D scanner uses a laser to capture the surface details of a physical or part model with 0.005 inch accuracy and delivers files that can make parts on a machine tool or SLA machine. The NextEngine comes with software and connects to a high-speed USB 2.0 port on a PC with a minimum of 2 GB of RAM. The basic unit comes with the core software that outputs to STL, OBJ, VRML, U3D, and other formats. The Pro software creates non-uniform rational B-spline (NURBS) and spline output for import into most CAD programs. The RapidWorks program generates actual parametric SolidWorks models or saves to IGES, STEP, or mesh.   
 
See how Jay Leno uses it on youTube:
 
 
Think of the times that you had a hard time getting a replacement part. With this machine you can scan it and take the 3D files to a machine shop to make the part.
 
Beckhoff
Beckhoff illustrated open automation for all areas of plastics processing, including injection molding machines, blow molding machines, and extrusion systems. Thomas Kosthorst, Beckhoff’s Plastics Industry Market Manager explained to me how their XFC technology (eXtreme Fast Control Technology) is an advantage for plastic production with a time resolution of <100 ns possible, allowing sensors to be read with sampling times of 10 μs.
 
 
Beckhoff has a brochure available that describes how Beckhoff controls and XFC technology improve plastics production.  More Information.
 
Sepro
Sepro, known for cartesian beam robots for injection-molding machines, introduced the Visual 2 Robot Control with a joystick and 10-inch screen. The Visual 2 is an easy-to-use interface for the Sepro Generation IV robots. At its core is a high-speed PLC, featuring scan rates up to 100 milliseconds. A large, easy-to-read and navigate 10-inch touch-sensitive LCD screen simplifies operation and provides users access to full system documentation. A joystick allows operators to steer the robot to fine-tune its movements. The Visual 2 can upload and download information via Ethernet, USB connection or Wi-Fi.   With the Visual 2 controller, it is possible to drive up to 16 axes. The Simple Pick & Place module allows users to create a robot program just by answering a few basic questions posed by the system. The results are presented immediately in three-dimensional video. EPS (Embedded Program Source) programming uses freely programmable templates and on-screen prompts that lead the operator through the process of ‘teaching’ all relevant robot positions. Direct Programming of even the most complex routines can be completed on the Visual 2 pendant or off-line. Programming can be uploaded to the control via Ethernet, Wi-Fi or USB connection.  More Information.
 
ASCON
ASCON demonstrated the new sigma microPAC, a micro programmable automation controller. The sigma microPAC consists of a CPU with 8 digital inputs, 8 digital outputs, up to 8 analog inputs and up to 4 analog outputs. Up to two expansion modules can be added to the basic unit for up to 40 digital inputs and 40 digital outputs. Programming is compliant with IEC 611131-3 standards.
 
The Sigma microPAC can do complete plastic process control of PID loops and sequence/logic control, combining the functions of a PLC and PID controllers. The Sigma Series is programmed with a free IEC 61131 software program called OpenPCS.  More Information.
 
MKS
MKS Instruments, Inc. demonstrated the new SenseLink QM version 2.2 improved data acquisition system, featuring multivariate analysis (MVA) with partial least squares (PLS) modeling for improved real-time quality monitoring and fault detection in injection molding. The multivariate statistical analysis provides improvements in process monitoring and parts quality predictions that are not attainable through traditional SCADA and SPC approaches. The SenseLink QM 2.2 system is a compact unit that enables users to track multiple critical quality parameters in real time, to identify product variability and defects, and quickly determine root causes, improving part quality and machine productivity. It features multivariate libraries and automated modeling functions from Umetrics, a subsidiary of MKS. The SenseLink system incorporates the entire analytical process, including data collection, modeling and run-time control, in a single platform.
 
A web browser user interface allows easy configuration and data analysis. Setup does not require MVA training, and models can adapt to acceptable process changes due to time, shift change, and material variability. Results can be automatically archived on local network storage servers for data retention. The SenseLink QM 2.2 system easily identifies process variables contributing to poor quality, allowing for corrective action to optimize production and eliminate downstream costs. More Information.
 
MTS Sensors
MTS Systems Corp. Sensors Division’s Magnetostrictive Temposonics linear-position sensors are available with a faster update rate option, allowing for updated measurements every 100 microseconds. This provides greater accuracy for demanding industrial applications such as injection molding machines, extruders and thermoforming machines. The fast update rate option is available for SSI and EtherCAT protocols. The high rates shorten cycle time for a measured value.  The controller can read the absolute position values with an update frequency of up to 10 kHz (independent of measuring length) synchronized with an external control clock to provide 26-bit absolute position data every 100 microseconds.
 
Another benefit of implementing magnetostrictive Temposonics linear-position sensors in plastics applications results from the multiple magnet capability.  MTS linear-position sensors can generate up to 20 simultaneous position outputs along a given sensing element, making them a cost-effective replacement for the traditional array of proximity sensors used in most injection molding applications. Typically there are four critical parameters for measurement on an injection molding machine; the clamping unit, the ejection unit, the injector itself and the tie bar. Those measurements are coupled along only two primary axes, and the MTS sensors are able to measure all four parameters with just two sensors rather than four. With this multi-position capability, magnetostrictive technology reduces the number of required sensors from four down to two without compromising performance, improving both precision and productivity. More Information.
 
Autodesk
Continuing to enhance Digital Prototyping solutions, Autodesk introduced the latest release of the Moldflow software suite for plastics injection molding simulation and optimization. Moldflow 2010 second release is part of the Autodesk solution for Digital Prototyping that offers enhanced performance, accuracy and interoperability with mainstream computer-aided design (CAD) applications. The plastics injection molding software suite is among the first in the computer-aided engineering (CAE) market to take advantage of the processing power of high-performance graphics processing unit (GPU) technology to solve complex computations twice as fast. Native support for Autodesk Inventor software and a variety of other CAD models improves Moldflow integration with the product design and development process. More Information.
 
Moldflow 2010 presentation on Youtube.