NISSEI presents thin-wall Polylactic Acid (PLA) Injection Molding Technology

Polylactic Acid (PLA)

NISSEI’s theme for this year’s K2019 was “Injection for Innovation.” NISSEI has sold over 130,000 machines since its inauguration. They have been passing down their cultivated expertise to future generations while offering a variety of innovative technological solutions brought by ongoing research and development of new technologies and improvement of existing technologies.

Thin-wall polylactic acid (PLA) injection molding technology eco-friendly technology

As a part of NISSEI’s ongoing effort to establish sustainable zero-waste societies and to reduce carbon footprint to combat climate change, a PLA (Polylactic Acid) injection molding machine system was displayed.  The technologies used in this system materialize a practical use of plant-based eco-friendly PLA materials as well as expanding the envelope for its applications.

Microplastics and plastic debris in the oceans are becoming a world-wide problem, and tougher regulations on disposable plastic bags and containers have been enforced in many nations across the world.  However, a majority of plastic wastes are disposed in landfills or burned as fuel to collect thermal energy (thermal recycling) even in environment-conscious countries in Europe.

NISSEI has actively been promoting the uses of plant-based biodegradable plastics to tackle the issue from a different angle in addition to the 3Rs approach (Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle).  Biodegradable resins can be composted and biodegraded to return to nature.  Therefore, it will prevent the plastic wastes from entering the oceans.

PLA is considered as one of the best prospects among the biodegradable resins to replace petroleum-based plastics in the future.  However, it possesses low heat resistance (around 60 degrees Celsius), low shock resistance, poor fluidity and mold releasability.  It is difficult to be used as a material for deep or thin-wall parts, and its uses in injection molding are limited.

To offer a solution to this worldwide movement, NISSEI developed practical thin-wall container molding technologies that can replace petroleum-based disposable containers with 100% PLA.

To make practical use of these technologies, NISSEI teamed up with Mr. Michio Komatsu, a renowned engineer possessing abundant knowledge and patents in PLA molding.

In standard PLA molding processes, it is prone to have short shots in thin-wall parts since the fluidity of PLA is very poor.  NISSEI came up with a new technology to mix supercritical carbon dioxide into molten PLA to improve the fluidity of injected material.  It makes injection molding of the world’s thinnest level (0.65mm) thin-wall container possible while achieving super high transparency.

New All-Electric Injection Molding Machine: “NEX-V Series” for the Global Market

NEX-V Series is currently being developed to be sold in the global market, including Europe.

Two NEX280V-71E machines (concept models) with 2,740kN (280ton) clamping force was revealed at K2019.  One machine molds the stands, and the other mold the bowls of champagne glasses, which will be assembled by a double-arm robot.

Main Features of the All-New NEX-V Series

1) New Controller that Materializes Smart Factory with IoT Technologies
-OPC-UA comes standard, making EUROMAP77&88 capability available. MES and other auxiliary equipment communication standards can be incorporated easily. Central management of auxiliary equipment, such as takeout robot, material feeder, and mold temperature controller are possible.
-The control panel is a flat sheet type, and the touch panel is water and dust resistant. Universal design is used for better visibility, making it easy for the operators to use.
-NISSEI’s original top-and-bottom dual windows are displayed in the 15-inch vertical LCD, offering better visibility and intuitive operability.
-Enhanced quality & production management and maintenance features are equipped, offering easy operation history and monitor data traceability.

2) Conformable to the Universal Injection Molding Machine Safety Standard ISO20430 (currently, being enacted by International Organization for Standardization)
-NEX-V Series incorporates ISO20430 ahead of others and is being developed as NISSEI’s global market series.

3) Smaller Machine, Larger Mold
-NEX-V Series offers one of the widest platens and longest daylights in the industry while keeping its footprints to industry’s smallest size. It flexibly accommodates hot runner molds, molds for long-length products, and modern molds, which grow in size in accordance with integral molding or intricate shapes of the products.
In conjunction with the low-pressure molding method, one class smaller injection molding machine can be selected and used for an existing mold.

4) Faster, and More Precise
-The toggle type clamping mechanism, which achieves high-cycle motion, is carried over from the current series.  Fast mold open/close motion contributes to higher productivity.  Time-tested “Flat Clamp Clamping Mechanism” offers uniform contact pressure and twist-resistant structure, and the linear guides that come standard offer highly precise clamp linearity, preventing flash and other molding defects and materializing repeatable high-precision molding.  It also contributes to prolonging the life of a mold and clamping unit.
-The wear-resistant toggle and linear guides reduce inconvenient greasing work, making it even cleaner.  It possesses superior capability in meeting needs for clean room applications for container and medical industries.

NISSEI released the world’s first all-electric injection molding machine in 1983 and has been developing its fundamental technologies and making performance improvements.  Since its debut in 2003, NEX Series has become one of NISSEI’s flagship series, and a total of over 20,000 units have been sold.  The new NEX-V Series is the fifth generation on the NEX Series, which succeeds the highly-reputed current model NEX-IV Series that was released in May of 2016.

NEX280V-71E (clean booth specification with options)

IoT Technologies: Supporting a smart molding factory

As a solution to Industry 4.0 and IoT, NISSEI is proposing “N-Constellation,” a technology that utilizes IoT technology-based automatic inspection system to produce higher quality products, contributing to establishing Smart Factory for the customers. NISSEI has also been accelerating their effort to develop an industry 4.0 enabled controller “NISSEI 4.0,” which is one of their code names for the IoT technology development.

At K2019, “Visualize to Support, Connect to Utilize” was the theme for IoT technologies. Using an injection molding machine as a hub, it forms a network of various auxiliary equipment. It does not simply visualize and connect, but it effectively utilizes collected data to make a formation of profitable smart factory possible.

Main features:

1) Newly developed TACT5 controller with OPC UA comes standard, European MES communication standard Euromap77 capability (basic), and easy to cope with the peripheral device communication standard Euromap82.x/86/79.
2)Networking capability with takeout robot, material feeder, etc. thanks to Euromap communication capability and EtherCAT.
3)By above, settings of connected peripherals can be managed together with a molding condition.  It reduces workload for operators, improves efficiency, and eliminates the use of cables, such as couplers and wires (reduces environmental load).  It also makes remote maintenance possible to reduce downtime.  Optimizing molding conditions, eliminating molding defects, improving productivity, predicting replacement timing for consumable parts, and diagnosing peripherals by AI will be possible in the future to form a “Smart Molding Factory.”

The Other Demo Machine and Demonstrations

1) Automation & Labor-Saving Technologies
-An example of automation incorporating a collaborative robot.

2) Hybrid Type Injection Molding Machine
-NISSEI’s original hybrid “X-Pump” system combines the advantages of hydraulic machine (high-durability of the direct-pressure clamping system, low maintenance, long service life, and low cost) and electric machine (energy-saving, high-speed injection, high response, and high repeatability).  It offers outstanding all-round performance, enabling it to do a wide variety of molding from precision/thin-wall molding to thick-wall molding.

Source: NISSEI press release

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