Preparing for Production

Hot Runner performance is critical to maintaining production schedules and eliminating costly downtime. Following a pre-production checklist to ensure all tools are in place and ready to go gives your team the ability to work efficiently and effectively, saving both time and money. Having the tools to ensure your hot runner performance is peak is where Spark Industries comes in.

Necessity is the mother of invention

Manny Diaz developed the MoldXChecker® as a result of feedback from customers who stated they would like to be able to test the hot half and the associated elements more quickly. Also, for obvious reasons, they would like less experienced employees to be able to manage the task without extensive training. Save time; save cash!

This wish list also included they are able to measure the ohms on heaters and thermocouples. Why? Because if you track the ohm readings and check them at every PM (also track the ambient temperature, and then note the readings that occurred right before a t/c or heater failure, it should be possible to predict future failures by looking at the conditions occurring with previous fails.

Manny thought, “Why not take it further and do a more extensive check while the mold was still in the tool room before it was set!” That way, there’s no climbing into the press! Nobody likes being inside there, and no one really wants to see someone climbing up there. Not only is it nerve-racking, but also inefficient. In addition, let’s look for shorts that are often due to pinched wires upon reassembling the mold, and let’s be able to identify which zone contains the short! I know, crazy, right? Shorts are dangerous and can cost a good deal of money, especially if thermocouples, heaters, and controllers are destroyed. And how about adding a safety ground test? Manny decided he could actually make all of this happen, and the MoldXChecker® was born!

Practical Experience leads to improvement

There’s nothing more frustrating than walking into the tool room and seeing that pile of questionable cables! They are always there! Everyone just ignores them and kind of hopes they will just go away. But, alas, eventually, we must address them…because they are not going anywhere! After all, it is way better to deal with them before one makes it out onto the production floor in error.

Manny Diaz, Managing Partner of Fast Heat by Spark Industries, and inventor of the CableXChecker®, was constantly running into the issue of showing up at companies to do maintenance and having no available cables to use to troubleshoot the hot half of the mold; the cables that were known to be good where always already in use on the floor.

So, you guessed it, he was faced with having to check the cables in the dreaded pile of misfit cables.

Why does no one want to deal with this annoying pile? Because it’s tedious, takes a whole lot of time, and often more than one employee is needed to sufficiently check them and find the potential problems; it’s just that simple. Each pin must be checked for bends, and then there is the possibility of a short, which means touching one pin while also then touching all 24 pins over and over and over again…miswires and open circuits could also be an issue with a cable.

The answer to making this whole task a little less painful, CableXChecker® by Fast Heat by Spark Industries. CableXChecker® allows your staff to efficiently deal with these problematic cables.

And don’t forget the connectors! Pins that are pushed back, ground wires being broken or missing, and, of course, broken latches are all issues to be regularly checked.

We have compiled a pre-production checklist to make all of this easier to remember; see below.

Spark Industries | Hot Runner Maintenance Training

Ok, the mold and cables are ready, and you have made it to the press… Let’s talk about additional steps to now address increasing that all-important profit margin!

Stan Glover from Zeiger Industries has some practical applications to help in this area.

Stan states that the opportunity to increase efficiency and that bottom line, actually starts in the barrel; the screw, nozzle tip, and check rings/valves can all make a difference, and who are we to disagree?

Plasticizing technology is a key element, and that means “melt preparation,” which really starts in the hopper and ends at the nozzle tip.

How does melt preparation equate to dollars? Easy; scrap reduction, cycle time reduction, and then expanding the process windows.

Don’t get “screwed”…pun fully intended. The metallurgy of the screw makes a difference in dealing with diverse types of resin. You know there are different types of steel, all kinds of different grades and trade names. The type of material you are using can make a difference when it comes to sticking, for example, and how the plastic resin will release from the screw as it is pumped down through the flights. The flight depth and size can also make a difference in the resulting part quality. So, be aware when making a screw choice.

Check, please! Check ring valves and components are also factors that must be addressed to avoid quality issues with your parts. And, again both design and metallurgy are crucial with the rings and seats. Working in conjunction with the appropriate nozzle tip design is also critical. This is especially true when dealing with resins such as polycarbonate and acrylics being used in lenses or other parts requiring clarity; you definitely do not want to encounter black specks or streaking and end up with a bunch of scrap parts.

The last factor relating to this end of the screw and plasticizing process is the availability of a heated nozzle. You made it all the way from the hopper to this point, and now we don’t want to mess it up. Heat consistency is the key here, and you want it to continue all the way through the process.

The less variation in the process, the better!

Heating up and Managing Power

It’s game time! We have reached the mold…Bakeout, Evensoak, and Softsoak we use to pre-heat and expand the hot runner system and mold to get rid of moisture and avoid resulting issues.

Sequentially heating from large mass to small allows for an Evensoak and expansion. You can’t just expect to flip on the heat and immediately shoot the job. That’s like trying to go run a marathon without warming up, no bueno!

Power Play

Waterfall technology is another tool to add to your set of money-saving performance enhancers.

Hot runner systems use a lot of power! The Waterfall technology allows for staggering power across zones; so there is not a call for power from all of them at once.

There are so many ways we can help you save time and money!

For full details on the aforementioned information, please watch our webinar!

Webinar: Improve Hot Runner Performance

About Fast Heat by Spark Industries