Robots increasing productivity in injection moulding

The use of robotics in injection moulding processes provides us with a competitive advantage with marked increases in productivity and high quality.

27th April 2020

There are multiple benefits for robotics in injection moulding

Tex Plastics Derby is continually working to improve productivity and become more efficient. Whether it is the extreme fast movements of standard automation products which save incremental seconds on every cycle, or how fully integrated automation delivers a complete robotic solution. The client always wins, because we are able to be more competitive and deliver greater consistency.

Robotics helping Tex Plastics future proof

The pending changes in the availability and access to a wider pool of potential employees will be a concern for many businesses. Whether it is difficulty staffing our injection moulding production, or wanting to make better use of our existing labour force, industrial robots have been used across all areas of the injection moulding related processes at Derby. From loading components into the injection moulding machine to finishing and assembling injection moulded parts. The use of robotics provides us with a scalable, competitive advantage with marked increases in productivity and quality.

How and where robotics work in Plastic Injection Moulding

Utilising collaborative robot arms mean robots can take over machine tending and kitting tasks, resulting in improved product consistency and increase in production capacity for those applications.

  • Robots relieve operators from repetitive work
  • Insert moulding performed by robots
  • Robotics utilised in over-moulding applications
  • Using robotics for in-mould labelling and decorating
  • Robotics in post processing

Robots are also more frequently used in post processing outside of the moulding process, such as welding, assembly and packaging tasks, driven by an increasing demand for more flexible solutions. Anywhere identical products are being made repeatedly, an industrial robot can perform these highly repetitive tasks. But the most common application is machine tending – to unload finished parts from the injection moulding machine ready for downstream processes.

“The Derby facility have embraced all the advantages robotics and automation can deliver within the injection moulding process”

Lee Barker
New Business Development Manager, Tex Plastics

Robots relieve operators from repetitive work

Machine tending injection moulding is a labour intensive task and requires high consistency in handling due to the heat sensitive material being moulded. The use of a robot can relieve operators from repetitive work and the risk of injuries, resulting in improved product consistency and production capacity. Robots equipped with pneumatic grippers or vacuum can ensure the careful handling of newly injected moulded parts and avoid damage.

Insert moulding performed by robots

Robots are also relied on at Tex Plastics Derby, to perform insert moulding. Insert moulding involves encapsulating an ‘insert’ in moulded plastic. Most often, the insert is a metal object such as a pin, blade, threaded rod, etc. Inserts can either be put inside plastic moulded parts during or after the injection moulding process.

Robotics utilised in over-moulding applications

Over-moulding applications are where two or more separately moulded parts are combined to produce one part, for example, a hose nozzle with rubberised grip on the handle, the process can be automated to varying degrees for fast and precise placement of parts. A robot can lift a moulded part out of one injection moulding machine and place it into another for the over-moulding process. This reduces labour and assembly costs, and improves the quality, reliability and integrity of the end product.

Using robotics for in-mould labelling and decorating

This is a process where plastic injection moulded parts are labelled and/or decorated during the injection moulding cycle. It is another common area for robotic automation because it uses the robots to load pre-printed labels or decorated film directly into the open plastic injection mould. Labels or decorations are then permanently encapsulated within the injection moulded parts and become an integral part of the final product. A robot with a custom designed end of arm tool allows precise positioning of label on the product with high stability.

Robotics in post processing

Robots can liberate workers from strenuous and repetitive manual work such as wrapping, labelling, palletising and provide flexibility for quality packing, storage and logistics. For this reason, robotic technology plays a significant role for plastic injection moulding post processing. A robotic trimming cell provides superior repeatability when compared with a human performing the same task, and it increases flexibility by performing multiple operations. A robot will consistently dispense the same amount of sealant or adhesives following a highly repeatable pattern, offering greater shot accuracy, improving cycle times and reducing waste.

With or without vision, robots can pick and place plastic moulded parts for further operations such as inspection, testing and hot stamping. In the assembly of injection moulded parts, robots can perform complex welding operations using laser, ultrasonic and infrared, increasing precision and driving down cycle times.

Robots also meet the needs of automated finishing, ranging from PAD printing to polishing.

Find out how we can help you drive waste out of your plastics injection moulded parts and associated supply chain