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Significantly shorter cycle times

Links: ENGEL Deutschland Geschäftsführer Rolf Saß / Rechts: hotset CEO Ralf Schwarzkop

hot­sets Z‑System is re­gard­ed as a pi­o­neer­ing de­vel­op­ment of var­io­therm mold tem­per­a­ture con­trol. Since its mar­ket launch at the end of 2016, the high-speed process for par­tial-cycli­cal tem­per­a­ture con­trol of in­jec­tion molds has been used by more and more plas­tics proces­sors in the con­sumer and au­to­mo­tive in­dus­tries. ENGEL is now the first ma­chine man­u­fac­tur­er to of­fer the in­te­gra­tion of the Z‑system as an ad­di­tion­al equip­ment op­tion for its in­jec­tion mold­ing ma­chines. In an in­ter­view, hotset CEO Ralf Schwarzkopf and ENGEL Ger­many Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor Rolf Saß ex­plain the ben­e­fits this of­fers users.

Mr. Schwarzkopf, which user groups in plas­tics pro­cess­ing ben­e­fit from the hotset Z‑System?

Schwarzkopf: Above all, all those OEMs, Tear 1 sup­pli­ers, in­jec­tion mold­ers and tool­mak­ers who place great val­ue on top sur­faces with­out weld lines and dull spots when man­u­fac­tur­ing com­po­nents and func­tion­al as­sem­blies from en­gi­neer­ing plas­tics. Its use is al­so worth­while when fil­i­gree de­signs with low wall thick­ness­es are to be pro­duced. In ad­di­tion, we are con­stant­ly en­coun­ter­ing new ap­pli­ca­tions and are of­ten sur­prised at what the Z‑System is ca­pa­ble of.

In what form and which vari­ants do you cur­rent­ly of­fer the Z‑System?

Schwarzkopf: The sys­tem is ex­treme­ly flex­i­ble and is con­fig­ured by us ac­cord­ing to cus­tomer spec­i­fi­ca­tions so that it fits com­pact­ly and with min­i­mal ef­fort in­to the mold — sim­i­lar to a hot run­ner sys­tem. Even dur­ing the de­sign phase, we can in­cor­po­rate its de­sign and in­te­gra­tion in­to the mold’s da­ta set. Thanks to ther­mal sim­u­la­tions, we can pre­dict with great ac­cu­ra­cy at an ear­ly stage what tem­per­a­tures will pre­vail on the walls of the cav­i­ties. Since we al­so ac­com­pa­ny the in­stal­la­tion and com­mis­sion­ing, the cus­tomer al­ways re­ceives a 360° care­free pack­age. This ap­plies in par­tic­u­lar to the new ma­chine-in­te­grat­ed vari­ant of the Z‑system, which we are im­ple­ment­ing in co­op­er­a­tion with the SGM man­u­fac­tur­er ENGEL.

The Z-System is now available on all ENGEL injection molding machines that operate with a CC300 control unit. The user can select all the necessary parameters for mould temperature control on the CC300 control panel.

The Z‑System is now avail­able on all ENGEL in­jec­tion mold­ing ma­chines that op­er­ate with a CC300 con­trol unit. The user can se­lect all the nec­es­sary pa­ra­me­ters for mould tem­per­a­ture con­trol on the CC300 con­trol panel.

Mr. Saß, which ENGEL in­jec­tion mould­ing ma­chines al­ready have this ad­di­tion­al op­tion?

Saß: Re­gard­less of the ma­chine se­ries and the dri­ve tech­nol­o­gy used, we are now of­fer­ing the Z‑System for all in­jec­tion mould­ing ma­chines in our port­fo­lio that work with a CC300 con­trol unit. The CC300 is our cur­rent con­trol gen­er­a­tion. It is char­ac­ter­ized by in­tu­itive op­er­a­tion and clear menu nav­i­ga­tion and en­ables smart, high­ly ef­fi­cient nav­i­ga­tion through com­plex man­u­fac­tur­ing processes.

And how can we specif­i­cal­ly imag­ine the in­ter­ac­tion of the Z‑System with the con­trol sys­tem of the SGM?

Saß: Just as the user is fa­mil­iar with from the use of ad­di­tion­al pres­sure or tem­per­a­ture sen­sors, the Z‑System mold is in­te­grat­ed in­to the func­tion­al scope of our in­jec­tion mold­ing ma­chine. When the mold is set up, the process-spe­cif­ic set­ting da­ta record is au­to­mat­i­cal­ly adopt­ed, in which all rel­e­vant tem­per­a­ture and time pa­ra­me­ters are stored. On a sep­a­rate Z‑system page on the CC300’s touch­screen con­trol pan­el, the user can then see all the re­quired pa­ra­me­ters and make his se­lec­tion. This means that he does not have to use ad­di­tion­al ex­ter­nal de­vices or go to the back of the ma­chine to make ad­just­ments to the Z‑system. All se­lect­ed val­ues are al­so stored in the pro­duc­tion da­ta record. This means that they are im­me­di­ate­ly avail­able for re­trieval as soon as the tool is placed on the ma­chine again.

Why did you as a ma­chine man­u­fac­tur­er de­cide to in­te­grate the Z‑System from hotset?

Saß: Our two com­pa­nies have al­ready had a very live­ly co­op­er­a­tion for many years. And since we pur­sue the same goal with the top­ic “avoid­ance of weld lines”, it was an im­por­tant con­cern for us to co­op­er­ate al­so in this area. In ad­di­tion, as a ma­chine man­u­fac­tur­er, we al­ways fo­cus on two — some­times op­pos­ing — lines of de­vel­op­ment: on the one hand, we en­able our cus­tomers to meet the con­tin­u­ous­ly in­creas­ing qual­i­ty re­quire­ments for vis­i­ble plas­tic com­po­nents; on the oth­er hand, we have to of­fer the users of our SGM op­tions with which they can de­sign their pro­cess­ing op­er­a­tions even more ef­fi­cient­ly and eco­nom­i­cal­ly. From our point of view, this bal­anc­ing act suc­ceeds par­tic­u­lar­ly well with the Z‑System.

Schwarzkopf: Above all, be­cause this high-speed so­lu­tion with its tar­get­ed par­tial dy­nam­ic tem­per­a­ture con­trol al­so makes a cen­tral con­tri­bu­tion to op­ti­miz­ing the en­tire in­jec­tion mold­ing process be­yond im­prov­ing part qual­i­ty. This is be­cause its ex­treme heat­ing speed of 60 K/s and very short cool­ing rates of around 30 K/s al­low high­ly dy­nam­ic mold tem­per­a­ture con­trol to be im­ple­ment­ed with­out ex­tend­ing the cy­cle time. Since these enor­mous­ly fast tem­per­a­ture changes are al­so achieved with an av­er­age en­er­gy con­sump­tion of on­ly about 100 W/h, the Z‑system is an ex­treme­ly en­er­gy-ef­fi­cient solution.

Can you con­firm this from the point of view of the ma­chine builder, Mr. Saß?

Saß: Yes, ab­solute­ly. Not on­ly does the en­er­gy ef­fi­cien­cy of mold tem­per­a­ture con­trol im­prove mea­sur­ably, but out­put al­so in­creas­es be­cause sig­nif­i­cant­ly short­er cy­cle times can be achieved com­pared to clas­sic var­io­ther­mal tem­per­a­ture con­trol. For ex­am­ple, there is no longer an in­jec­tion de­lay un­til the tar­get tem­per­a­ture is reached at the cav­i­ty wall.

The System Center for Industrial Temperature Control (SIT) at hotset

At hotset’s new Sys­tem Cen­ter for In­dus­tri­al Tem­per­a­ture Con­trol Tech­nol­o­gy (SIT), the Z‑System can be test­ed both as a stand-alone and retro­fit so­lu­tion for spe­cif­ic cus­tomers and as a ful­ly in­te­grat­ed vari­ant in an 80-tonne SGM from ENGEL.

High­er en­er­gy ef­fi­cien­cy, bet­ter sur­faces and more pro­duc­tiv­i­ty — you might think that the in­jec­tion mold­er ben­e­fits threefold?

Saß: That is de fac­to the case! With the Z‑System, our cus­tomers get a sim­ple plug-and-play so­lu­tion to avoid weld lines and mat­te yards — with­out hav­ing to in­vest in an ad­di­tion­al con­trol sys­tem. So that’s sig­nif­i­cant added val­ue! And in view of the in­creas­ing com­plex­i­ty of pro­duc­tion process­es in plas­tics pro­cess­ing, users in­crease their com­pet­i­tive­ness with this prac­ti­cal con­tri­bu­tion to sim­plic­i­ty — as we call this trend at ENGEL.

This sounds promis­ing. What op­por­tu­ni­ties do in­ter­est­ed par­ties have to ex­am­ine and test the Z‑System?

Schwarzkopf: We opened theSys­tem Cen­ter for In­dus­tri­al Tem­per­a­ture Con­trol Tech­nol­o­gy, the SIT, in Lü­den­scheid a few months ago specif­i­cal­ly for this pur­pose. This fa­cil­i­ty is a re­sult of our co­op­er­a­tion with ENGEL and gives in­jec­tion mold­ers, mold mak­ers as well as qual­i­ty- process op­ti­miz­ers a lot of scope to con­vince them­selves of the per­for­mance of the Z‑system. It is avail­able here both as an in­te­grat­ed sys­tem so­lu­tion in an ENGEL SGM and as a sep­a­rate sys­tem with ex­ter­nal con­trol. In this case, the spe­cif­ic test con­di­tions or more ad­vanced sce­nar­ios can be agreed up­on de­pend­ing on the ap­pli­ca­tion. Just re­cent­ly, for ex­am­ple, the ef­fects of the Z‑system were test­ed at SIT when us­ing se­mi-crys­talline ma­te­ri­als — with as­ton­ish­ing results.

Mr. Saß, Mr. Schwarzkopf, thank you for the interview.

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