Composite Usage in IML Robots
In mould labelling (IML) is a process that which product labels are incorporated into the mould. IML is usually utilized in injection molding, blow molding, and thermoforming. The label becomes a part of the final product, so it becomes difficult for it to be peeled off.
What are the benefits of composite IML Robots?
IML process is almost always automated. Thus, for each mould there are multiple robots. These robots are usually made of steel or aluminium. In recent years, alternative materials such as carbon fiber reinforced polymers became more available for these products. However, a complete carbon fibre IML robot is not commercially viable because of the thermal properties of the epoxy resin that is used for the process. CFRP is commonly used for robot arms and mechanical shafts. Generally, the filament winding process is used to manufacture these parts.
These parts are usually connected to servos and drivers. Their main performance parameter is the specific stiffness. There are several factors that affect this parameter. The main parameter is fiber volume ratio. Filament winding process allows parts to be manufactured with a high fibre volume ratio.
In addition, because of the nature of the filament wound composite materials, the parts could be optimized for certain stresses which allow for a better fatigue life as well. The composite parts act as a mechanical fuse. The composite parts fail before yielding, so in case of an unexpected crash the composite arms fail before the press or the robot gets damaged. This reduces the maintenance cost.
As the steel and aluminium prices increase, the composite alternatives will become more viable. Thus, in the IML industry, it is expected that more composite parts will be implemented to reduce weight and increase overall efficiency.