Fakuma 2023: Smart process monitoring in injection molding for the circular economy

Smart process monitoring: the key to a circular economy in the injection molding industry – at Fakuma 2023 in Friedrichshafen

What will the future of injection molding look like? Thanks to appropriate sensor technology with matching hardware and software, today's users already benefit from intelligent solutions that automatically detect deviations from the standard during the injection molding process, adjust parameters, and separate bad parts by itself. Kistler will show visitors to this year's Fakuma how sustainable use of resources, smart process monitoring and increased digitalization will shape the future of injection molding. Highlights at Kistler's booth A2-2302 in hall A2 from 17 to 21 October will include new firmware versions for the ComoNeo and ComoScout process monitoring systems with extended functionalities, as well as the Stasa QC Optimizer. 

Process monitoring in injection molding: With the AkvisIO IME production data software, users can evaluate data.
Process monitoring in injection molding: With the AkvisIO IME production data software, users can evaluate data.

Miniature sensors offer new solutions for process monitoring 

Visitors to this year's Fakuma 2023 can get to know two new sensors at once, because Kistler is turning the spotlight on a pair of miniature sensors at this event. The 9239B miniature longitudinal measuring pin has a diameter of only 2.5 mm – so it takes up virtually no space when installed in the injection mold and is protected against direct contact with the melt. The 9239B uses a PiezoStar crystal grown by Kistler to measure the pressure-induced compression of the mold during the injection molding process – so it measures the cavity pressure indirectly.

With a diameter of only 3 mm, the 4004A melt pressure sensor can be used directly in injection nozzles and small extruders. A wide operating and measuring range of up to +350°C makes the 4004A resilient under these conditions, and it is especially suitable for 3D printing applications. Until now, high temperatures have made it impossible for manufacturers to implement quality control while the process is actually running.

Kistler is also showcasing the latest versions of its ComoNeo and ComoScout 6.0 process monitoring systems at the 2023 Fakuma. These can now be updated directly via the network; they can complete datasets with the cycle ID from the injection molding machine – and they are fully compatible with the new AkvisIO software. 

Artificial intelligence monitors and optimizes injection molding processes

As another highlight, Kistler is presenting its AkvisIO IME (Injection Molding Edition) production data software at Fakuma. Thanks to this modular data analysis software with a host of additional options for analysis, users in the plastics industry can now perform quality-oriented evaluations of their process and machine data directly in the software. Kistler is also working on the integration of AI solutions that can automatically detect malfunctions at an early stage and offer users suggestions for comprehensive process improvements.

Alongside process monitoring, optical inspection at the end of the injection molding process is a major step in achieving complete quality assurance. With its variable camera systems, test modules, and complete solutions that include sorting and batching, Kistler offers diverse options for comprehensive end-to-end inspection and sorting of injection-molded parts. The main inspection criteria for this 100- percent testing are dimensions and surface defects. Alongside classical image processing, the methods used include AI-based techniques such as anomaly detection. KiVision, the software developed by Kistler, guarantees a reliable inspection process for as many as 4,000 parts per minute: it is the core element of Kistler's optical testing systems. 

The interactive combination of cavity pressure monitoring and optical inspection solutions thus provides the basis for a complete portfolio of process and quality assurance solutions for the production of complex injection-molded parts.