WICKERT hydraulic presses operates internationally and are known for having a good reputation. A Japanese fiber manufacturer thus allowed the company from the town Landau in Germany to design and develop a press for its production facility. The press needed to have a high level of technical characteristics and meet the requirements of Industry 4.0.
A broad field of research and development is opening up to the key concepts of “new materials” and lightweight construction technology. The goal of this project was to build a press that is innovative in many respects and at the same time highly precise, with the aim of developing new materials.
Maximum levels of freedom in terms of settings and programming options characterize this “research tool”. The press was part of WICKERT’s WKP 3 000 S series, our tried-and-tested modular system with a pressing force of 300 metric tons.
High-level process reliability and efficiency are ensured by finite element planning in combination with modern, reliable series components. We were able to manage a comparatively short development and production time of the research press presented here of just ten months.
Measured in terms of performance and equipment, the level of investment for the “research press” remains close to that of standard presses.
The closing movement is very precise due to active control. The cycle time optimizing top ram press achieves a parallelism tolerance of ± 0.025 mm during the press run.
For comparison: “Normal” precision manufacturing comes with a plan parallelism under full load of 0.2 mm or 0.1 mm. On request, the WKP 3 000 S can even be delivered with a full load plan parallelism of just 0.1 mm.
The plan parallelism control offers the possibility of directly integrating an additional position measuring system device, which is mounted directly on the mold.
This “mold position measurement” increases the accuracy enormously. The closing speed is 10 inches/s, opening takes place at 6 inches/s with a stroke of 40 inches. The pressing speed is 0.5 to 1.0 mm/s. A 55 kW laboratory-standard quiet running hydraulic piston pump is sufficient to achieve the performance data and to work with molds of pressing surfaces with a maximum size of 40 x 40 inches.
Additional criteria ensures high-precision component production: The guaranteed and extremely precise temperature distribution of up to 1.8° Farenheit in the mold over the entire surface. This exact, homogeneous temperature control – with an intended mold temperature range between 68 and 482 °F – is achieved by the 6-zone heating control developed by WICKERT. Five PT100 temperature sensors per mold and vacuum sensors monitor this process. Two 20 kW oil heating systems provide the heat energy for the two independent temperature control circuits.
Depending on the press task, additional hydraulic and pneumatic functions are installed directly near the mold mounting surfaces. This means that leak-free quick-release couplings make it easy to connect and disconnect corresponding functions for each test mould. Quick-release couplings also customize the heating and cooling:
Mold-related temperature profiles for heating and cooling rates can be programmed as a function of time and pressure for the respective process steps. This is possible thanks to two independent mold temperature control circuits. The temperature is controlled by thermal oil.
The temperature control circuits can also be coupled to a wide variety of mold types via quick-release couplings.
The movement of the presses sliding table and the lifting movement of the upper half of the mold are space-optimized. All mold lines and cables are flexibly guided. The operator of the press decides whether they will work with or without a sliding table. Thanks to this option, the table can be used if necessary, while at the same time the press works without a sliding table. This concept allows for the fastest closing times from pressing “automatic start” until closing the mold.
The production of ever more complex part geometries requires a very accurate, controllable vacuum chamber system. The vacuum supply with a target negative pressure of -0.05 MPa can be controlled proportionally. This allows the material scientists to set all pressures from the maximum negative pressure to atmospheric pressure and to also achieve these pressures in the mold. This is made possible by a pump storage system that can also be operated directly from the pump for high vacuum.
The vacuum chamber not only helps to prevent air pockets, but also prevents the ingress of dirt particles during the pressing process. The vacuum chamber thus makes an important contribution to high process reliability. The ventilation is not done against atmospheric pressure, but against vacuum pressure and it is therefore much more effective.
The press functions are controlled directly by the PLC master controller. The programming follows a closed control loop. The operation of the press and the new control concept were adapted to the wishes of the Japanese plant operator. For example, ten pressing operations can be stored.
The process data logger is equipped with PC, Ethernet and Profibus interfaces. The interfaces and documentation options including remote diagnostics are absolutely in line with Industry 4.0 standards.
The Remote Monitoring Service enables automatic data exchange with the WICKERT Diagnosis Centre worldwide. This facility helps on three levels:
Using the on/off switch of the router, the user can decide whether they will maintain a data connection. The connection itself can be made via WAN (Wide Area Network), DSL and GSM.
“With this facility, which we have taken for granted for many years, we guarantee the highest possible system availability and optimal processes at the same time. WICKERT presses are being operated all over the world and our users should receive fast, competent service wherever they manufacture, and operate their presses as economically as possible.” said Dipl.-Wirt.-Ing. Stefan Herzinger, WICKERT Managing Director
The operator can also rely on the secure reproduction reliability of the system. Extensive pre-shipment tests were carried out on the system that was constructed in close cooperation with the client to verify that all the specified parameters were met.