Precise Injection Moulding Tools to Boost Production Volume

Precise Injection Moulding Tools to Boost Production Volume

In 2013 Polymermedics established the partnership with Engel UK for an ambitious project. Our goal was a total renewal of the plant – new energy-sustainable and high-performing injection moulding tools. The outcome yielded remarkable savings in energy consumption, scrap rate reduction and about a 25% increase in the production volume. The renewed manufacturing plant enabled us to fulfil the rising demand for injection moulding parts and medical disposables. Company’s tooling capabilities you can check here.

I Background to the injection moulding project and the partnership

Business description:
Following a leveraged management buyout of the former WEST Pharmaceutical injection moulding division in St Austell, Cornwall, Polymermedics commenced trading in May 2011. Under WEST ownership, the plant had spent more than 30 years producing as an in-house injection moulder of high volume medical products. We at Polymermedics, intended to continue servicing this market sector as well as exploiting the increasing demand for other high precision medical disposables. As part of the business plan, we identified that early and significant investment in the plant (tools and equipment) would be necessary. Therefore we sought out a supply partner that would not only assist with developing the existing applications but also would support the entry to other markets.

“The tools upgrade set in motion a new stage of injection moulding processes at Polymermedics”

Goals of the project:

1 To develop a supplier partnership that would serve the business needs in support of ambitious growth plans.

2 Technical leadership to drive six sigma performance < 50 Parts per Million Defect level.

3 A step change in productivity performance.

4 Implement Continuous Process Verification as a core part of the project.

II Solutions for the project

In order for our company to exploit the increasing demand for other high precision medical disposables, it was necessary to significantly upgrade the plant infrastructure and services. With experience in operational practices among high-end medical device customers, Engel UK was looked to as a project partner for assistance with the planning and implementation of the manufacturing area upgrade:

  • 1 Through initial discussions between Engel UK and Polymermedics, it was quickly established that the most efficient way to increase capacity would be to make a step change in the efficiency of the driving products’ seals manufacture. The capacity released as a consequence could then be redirected to support new business.
  • 2 Following an assessment of many different injection moulding concepts, it was agreed to proceed with single face 48 cavity full hot runner moulding tools in fast cycling execution. Tools would be built by our own toolroom in Germany, with advice from Engel concerning the design and specification to suit the high-speed application.
  • 3 In order to minimise energy consumption, it was agreed to proceed with fully electric machines. Thus, e-motion 100T machines were selected and specified for the tooling to be constructed.
  • 4 The application would be very challenging in terms of plasticising, in order to match the screw recovery to the cooling time achievable with the high-performance tools design. To achieve an optimum melt quality at very short residence time, Engel designed a special twin flight, 3 zone screw.

III Benefits of the injection moulding project

The plant upgrade set in motion a new stage of injection moulding processes at Polymermedics. Precise tool design resulted in an enhanced quality of the produced plastic components. Moreover, the tools upgrade lowered energy usage while remarkably increasing the volume of production. Here are the main points to mention:

1 The plant was filled with full hot runner tools in addition to the exciting semi-hot runner tools;

2 Average cycle time was reduced by 20%;

3 The number of machines required for the 2 largest volume products was reduced by 25%;

4 The number of tools required to meet the total products seals demand was reduced by 49%;

5 68% reduction in energy consumption per part.

IV Summation:

In a partnership between Engel UK and Polymermedics, a complete redesign of the manufacturing areas was undertaken. Through continuous analysis, brainstorming and design iterations, a concept was established with an upgrade to the building fabric, and installation of improved services. Engel UK and Polymermedics combined expertise to consolidate all injection moulding activities into one controlled manufacturing area capable of standard operation according to ISO 8. Injection moulding tools became the pivotal point in our production year and embarked us on a new journey of enhanced manufacturing capabilities.

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