- Innovative IML robot automation introduced
- From small prototype runs to lower volume production
- An all-rounder for IML applications
The Swiss injection molds and IML automation specialist H. Mueller-Fabrique de Moules SA has developed a new, 6-axis industrial robot for IML applications that features high flexibility and multifunctionality and is designed for small prototype runs and lower volume production.
All-rounder for the IML industry
Mueller’s Flexstar can be considered as a all-rounder where IML and takeout applications are involved. With the flexibility similar to that of a human hand, the robot arm can fulfill a wide variety of requirements. This latest development performs especially well in the range of low volume to mid-size runs and where frequent changes in SKU’s, labels and format are required. But Flexstar is also suited for use in product development, for example, in pilot tests, market test phases and in zero series production for fill line validation. Cups and lids in all common shapes and sizes can be decorated with all common shapes and types of labels, whether flat lid labels, side panels, 3- or 5-sided labels and even wraparound both with and without bottom labels. Depending on whether the products are gated from the inside or from the outside, labels can be inserted into the cavity and finished parts removed from either the stationary or the moveable half of the mold.
High degree of modularity in tight spaces
An additional advantage of Flexstar is its small footprint. This allows valuable floor space to be put to more efficient use. A high degree of modularity is another characteristic of the system. If required by the particular application, the robot is capable of performing minor assembly steps or inserting auxiliary parts, such as a spoon, handles or the like. Depending on the customer’s production requirements, the unit can be equipped with a camera vision control system, a separate stacker or even a packaging unit.
IML robot automation enables dynamic production
Flexstar is capable of up to four cavity applications. The robot has been configured for dynamic insertion, that is, even before the mold is completely open, the robot’s gripping arm is advancing into the machine. First the labels are inserted in the mold. Afterwards, the finished parts are removed and stacked. Subsequently, new labels are picked up from the magazines and the gripping arm returns to its waiting position. To date, the robot has been configured for injection molding machines up to approx. 2500 kN. Additional versions for larger injection molding machines are already in the planning phase.
The company will present the Flexstar at this year’s FAKUMA.