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“As the most recent staging proves, ENGEL’s med.con is now an established networking event for plastics processing firms in the medical technology sector,” says a delighted Christopher Vitz, Managing Director of ENGEL Deutschland in Hannover, commenting on the high levels of interest shown by participants. The event in Hannover did not only attract medical technology experts from the subsidiary's sales area, but also from the surrounding regions. “Our customers and partners use this platform to learn and exchange information about trends as well as innovative products and processes,” confirms Christoph Lhota, Vice President of ENGEL’s medical business unit. “Feedback from participants has been very good, especially as many of the ideas are suitable for immediate, practical implementation.”
The presentations focused on requirements, trends, innovative products, the opportunities of digitalisation and, above all, integrated system solutions: close cooperation between all organisations at an early project stage is increasingly becoming a success factor. Only where all components – from raw material to mould, injection moulding machine, automation, peripherals and processing technology – are precisely coordinated from the outset is it possible to maximise quality and efficiency potential, and make adjustments to product design as necessary. The examples on show illustrated this point. In one current project, for example, the number of plastic components in an inhaler was reduced from the original draft design, thereby removing the need for several work steps and moulds and reducing project costs significantly.
To deliver system solutions customised to the specific needs of processing firms from a single source, ENGEL works closely with partner companies. A number of these attended the event as speakers, including IGS Gebo Jagema from the Netherlands and Hekuma from Eching in Germany. Professor Dr. Thomas Seul, Pro-Rector for Research and Transfer at Schmalkalden University of Applied Sciences and president of the Association of German Tool and Moldmakers (VDWF), opened the conference with a keynote address. A personal report with a strongly practical focus was then delivered by Dr. Jochen Heinz of Transcoject; the family-run company based in Neumünster produces pharmaceutical packaging and application systems for human, dental and veterinary medicine, including highly complex prefillable syringes of cyclic polyolefins.
One highlight of med.con 2017 in Hannover was the live production of interdental cleaners using a highly integrated and fully automated manufacturing cell. The technology of system partners ENGEL, Hekuma and Hack Formenbau enables interdental brushes with up to 500 bristles to be produced in a single work step using a single-component injection moulding process, inspected inline and packaged ready for sale.
Completely filling eight cavities with highly delicate structures with a total shot weight of just 1.93 grams places extremely high demands on precision and process stability; the all-electric drive technology of the ENGEL e-motion injection moulding machine assists greatly in this process. Intelligent assistance systems from ENGEL’s inject 4.0 range are deployed to compensate for additional fluctuations in environmental conditions and the raw material. Amongst other things, attendees at med.con were able to track on the machine display how iQ weight control automatically adapts the switchover point, injection profile and holding pressure to current conditions shot for shot, thereby actively preventing rejects. “Industry 4.0 enables us to make our production more stable, safer and easier to plan,” emphasises Christoph Lhota. “Some very big opportunities have opened up for the medical technology sector especially.” Under the umbrella term inject 4.0, ENGEL already offers a whole range of software products and services for digitalisation and the networking of production processes. Given that Industry 4.0 remains uncharted territory for many businesses, med.con participants displayed a strong interest in the new possibilities.
To convey the emerging opportunities and as-yet unresolved challenges clearly and practically, ENGEL Deutschland has made inject 4.0 a firm focus of its interactive new technology centre in Hannover. “We invite customers to experience and try out inject 4.0 products for themselves here on the premises, regardless of whether events or seminars are taking place,” says Christopher Vitz. “Since the site reopened, we have had visitors almost every day. Now that the technical centre is big enough to accommodate a range of machine types and robots, we can offer a demonstration environment to suit all customers.”
The events and seminar area benefits greatly from the extra usable space at the technical centre in Hannover. By expanding the site, ENGEL has readied itself to meet the future needs of its customers and accommodate further growth on the German market. With over 80 employees around the world at present, ENGEL’s second largest sales and service office is also on course to raise its staffing level.