A month after the largest-ever IMTS show in Chicago, the crowds are here once again. PACK EXPO, here from Sunday through Wednesday, is jammed — I’ve had to rush to get to appointments on time, given the masses of people on the show floor today. But it’s a good problem, and it shows that the manufacturing and automation economy is chugging along.
According to PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technology (owner of the show), packaging machinery shipments are forecast to grow to $10.5 billion. This year’s show features 2,500 exhibitors and an estimated 50,000 attendees across 1.25 million sq-ft here at McCormick Place.
In talking to component manufacturers, engineers are more and more focused on safety, achieving throughput, and reducing downtime. They’re also hearing and reading about Big Data and the IOT, and are concerned about what it really means to them in their manufacturing operations — what’s hype, and what’s real?
Here are six new and interesting products and services that we’ve seen on the show floor:
Epson Robots, Booth N-4704, announced the expansion of its T-series robots with the Synthis T6 All-in-One SCARA robot. The new robot offers the perfect way to automate factories without wasting time or money on expensive, complex, slide-based solutions. Available for $9,495, it installs in minutes and virtually eliminates any space-constraint issues.
Similar to the Synthis T3 All-in-One SCARA robot announced one year ago, the T6 is suitable for simple applications such as pick and place, assembly, parts handling and dispensing applications in industries ranging from automotive and medical development, to lab automation, consumer electronics, electronic components and industrial. It features the All-in-One design with built-in controller (conveniently housed in the robot base) and power for end-of-arm tooling, runs at 110V or 220V and requires no encoder battery, minimizing factory downtime for maintenance. As a result of the T3 success, the T6 expands the line up to include payloads of up to 6kg, longer reach of up to 600mm, and the ability to handle multiple tools. The T3 won the Vision Systems Design 2018 Innovators Awards and is offered at the low cost of $7,495.
“Following the tremendous success that we have had with the T3, we are bringing to market the T6 to meet the need of customers requiring larger payloads,” said Gregg Brunnick, director of product management for Epson Robots. “The T6 is another powerful, low-cost automation solution designed for easy integration, which helps lower the total cost of ownership versus current products for manufacturers and system integrators. Because it includes the same intuitive Epson RC+ software and powerful features we incorporate in our high-end robots, we are giving users both the power and simplicity required for their applications.”
igus, Booth E-8320, is focusing on plastic grippers made from a 3D printer with tribo-filaments —they are 85% cheaper and 70% faster than most competitors currently being used in the packaging industry.
3D printing, one of the most impactful trends emerging in modern industry, allows for the single batches to become a reality and enabled for the personalized serial production of furniture, shoes, and watches, for example. The packaging industry can also benefit from additive manufacturing.
Since 2015, igus has been offering tribologically optimized 3D printing filaments for the Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) process, specifically for the printing of wearing parts. The filaments are made from self-lubricating iglide high-performance plastics and are optimized for wear and friction. Many companies have already had success using the igus tribo-filaments.
Companies that do not have 3D printers can have their individual wear-resistant parts printed directly at igus using the FDM process or selective laser sintering (SLS). For these cases, igus offers a 3D printing service.
Bosch Rexroth, Booth S-1654, is highlighting its Factory of the Future showcase, a multi-technology exhibit featuring the company’s intelligent, distributed drive and control components, connectivity modules, compact and versatile linear products, innovative chain conveyors and a wide selection of structural framing. All of which make it possible to expand machines and systems as necessary in a modular fashion.
IndraDrive Mi, reduces machine footprint of packaging and processing machines thanks to reduced components generating savings with up to 90% less wiring, and reduced cabinet size and energy consumption. Suitable for all packaging, factory automation and motion logic applications, the intelligent IndraControl XMis easy to commission and features high-performance real-time data processing capabilities, and Rexroth’s Open Core interface allows the integration into a wide range of systems.
Rexroth’s connectivity modules allow end users to communicate with their equipment, production lines and manufacturing facilities. Data collection is done with our SCD (Sense Connect Detect), a new, low-cost generation of sensors that are particularly easy to integrate. Bosch Rexroth will show how data from a certain number of SCD sensorscan be collected, as well as analyzed and managed in the cloud. Products such as the Rexroth IoT Gateway Rackconnect all areas of production from sensors to machine data in just a few steps and allow full shop floor transparency and monitoring of the overall production system. And Rexroth’s OpenCore Engineering builds the crucial bridge to the world of IT, enabling new levels of engineering flexibility.
Festo Corp., Booth N-5147, is sponsoring Clemson University’s “Data-Driven Packaging Design” exhibit. Clemson’s interactive exhibit provides insight on leveraging data to develop award-winning packaging.
“Festo is proud to sponsor this exciting exhibit,” said Richard J. Huss, president, Festo US. “The virtual reality and eye-tracking demonstrations offer an immersive look at how packaging allows consumers to interact with brands using cutting-edge technology. We’re glad to be involved in connecting show attendees to the latest technological innovations and give Clemson students a platform like PACK EXPO International.”
The Clemson exhibit will include virtual reality demonstrations, eye tracking and emotional analytics studies. Clemson University offers a renowned packaging science degree program and is home to leading experts on packaging and its effects on people.
Eisele Connectors, Booth E-9009, is presenting a ball bearing rotary connector. This addition to series 14 of the Eisele BASICLINE can rotate freely around its own axis. The new rotary connector offers a solution for conveying compressed air from a rigid component to a rotating component.
The rotary connector, which is designed for an operating pressure range of -0.9 to 16 bar, is suitable for all applications that are compatible with nickel-plated brass. The seals are made of NBR and FKM. The rotary connector is available in a straight, an angled and a T-shaped version for tube diameters of eight, ten and twelve millimeters. The screw-in end is equipped with G1/4 threads.
This new push-in connector from series 14 of the BASICLINE is the first fully rotating connector in Eisele’s product spectrum. The rotary movement is enabled by a hybrid stainless steel ball bearing with ceramic balls, which is approved for rotational speeds of up to 800 rpm. Stainless steel versions for other operating media will follow.
Dorner Conveyors, Booth N-4936, is featuring its next generation AquaGard 7350 (V2) Series and the AquaPruf sanitary platforms — these are engineered with strong hygienic designs that minimize product debris from entering the food zones, and allow for fast and effective sanitation. The improved frame design on the AquaGard 7350V2 provides more strength around the tail sections of the conveyor, and better drive support for superior performance.
Other conveyors on display here include the SmartFlex Helix Conveyor. Operating in a footprint as small as 10’ x 10’, the SmartFlex Helix is suitable for product handling applications where product needs to travel up or down in a confined space. The conveyor’s compact design allows for five feet of elevation change in 10 ft (incline angle of up to 12°), giving users more freedom and flexibility in designing a material handling system with multiple layouts using a single conveyor. The SmartFlex Helix comes in three belt widths: 85 mm, 180 mm, and 260 mm, and doesn’t require any lubrication for a cleaner environment and reduced risk of contamination.