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The 25th Fakuma also marks an anniversary for ENGEL. The Austrian injection moulding machine builder and systems solution provider was one of the very first exhibitors at the 1981 premiere of the trade fair. "Fakuma has evolved from a very regionally focused exhibition to a trade fair of high international relevance", summarises Dr. Christoph Steger, CSO of the ENGEL Group. At the same time, it has managed to maintain its familiar character, which is precisely what provides a particular flair to the industry meeting at Lake Constance until this very day. "At the Fakuma, one can communicate with customers and partners in a relaxed manner. The quality of conversations was very high again this year", says Steger.
At ENGEL's exhibition booth, several hundred visitors per day informed themselves about innovative machines and automation concepts, groundbreaking processing technologies and the new possibilities which Industry 4.0 is opening up for the plastics industry. Many fair visitors used the opportunity to specifically discuss current and future projects. As a result, ENGEL is able to register a higher number of confirmed sales than expected, with orders coming from existing customers as well as new customers.
The fact that processing companies around the world are focusing their attention on the innovative ability and experience of technology companies in Central and Western Europe was once again emphasised by the increasingly international profile of visitors to Fakuma 2017. The Fakuma is widely regarded as trendsetting for the international trade fairs that follow it, such as the upcoming NPE in Orlando, Florida, in May 2018.
The conversations at Fakuma confirmed that Industry 4.0 has arrived in the majority of companies. "The inquiries are becoming more and more specific", reports Paul Kapeller, Product Manager of Digital Solutions at ENGEL. "By now, most of our customers have a distinct idea of the advantages brought to them by digitalisation and networking, and are inquiring about specific products and solutions."
In several Expert Corners, ENGEL presented its entire inject 4.0 programme. Numerous products, such as the intelligent assistance systems of the iQ series, have by now proven themselves in practice over many years in several thousand installations throughout various sectors. They generated as much attention as the new products that were presented at a fair for the first time in Friedrichshafen. e-connect, the ENGEL customer portal which was launched in a completely revised version at the Fakuma, turned out to be a genuine visitor magnet. "In future, the customer portal will be an important linchpin in the cooperation with our customers", says Kapeller. "The new version supports our inject 4.0 products and accompanies our customers on the path to the smart factory." Trade fair visitors were especially impressed by the possibilities to clearly virtualise the machine park, including all machine conditions. "e-connect allows taking an easy first step towards a networked production", states Kapeller.
In addition to inject 4.0, the live demonstrations in five highly integrated production cells contributed to ENGEL's success at the Fakuma 2017. They included several world premieres. For example, in the automotive exhibition area ENGEL produced the first exterior component worldwide in clearmelt technology. This also represented an immense leap in development as compared to the previous presentation. With the new Colourline System by the ENGEL partner Hennecke from St. Augustin in Germany, PUR colour systems can now also be used in the clearmelt process. ENGEL demonstrated how quickly the colour change is performed in live operation. The components – both in high gloss – were alternately produced in black and in grey.
Until now, the subject of clearmelt revolved around decorative elements and electronic functional components for the vehicle interior, however, with the technology developed by ENGEL with Hennecke and other partners, there is an increasing focus on the exterior. In addition to the high efficiency of the integrated process, the reason for this is the enormous scratch resistance and high surface quality of the resulting components. Not only the automotively inclined among the trade fair visitors stopped at the clearmelt exhibit. For example, the technology also opens up new possibilities for manufacturers of control elements in various industries. Decorative as well as capacitive foils can be efficiently overmoulded. Functional elements thus vanish beneath a continuous, closed surface.
Also part of the ENGEL line-up at Fakuma was a new machine. With the e-mac 280, ENGEL has extended its machine series for all-electric applications in the teletronics and technical moulding areas at the top, taking into account the trend towards the increased use of multi-cavity moulds in the production of highly precise volume components. In addition, the new injection moulding machine provides an important contribution to an increase in area productivity. Thanks to optimised toggle-lever geometry, with its length of 6.20 metres the e-mac 280 is the shortest all-electric injection moulding machine in this clamping force class on the market, and that in spite of retaining its very large opening stroke of 600 mm.
In order to continue meeting the rising demand in future, at the Fakuma ENGEL announced comprehensive investments into its worldwide production sites, the continued expansion of its sales and service teams, and the reinforcement of local application-technical, automation and industry expertise. "The very positive mood in Friedrichshafen is an important indicator, both in Europe and worldwide, for the ongoing good economy in the plastics industry", says Steger.