2020 marks the 35th anniversary of Wittmann’s production of its first CNC robots. The company’s development of robots specifically for the needs of injection moulders has been the key to decades of success.
Such development has evolved from continual listening to experienced moulding practitioners – and then putting the fruit of that knowledge into the next generation of robots.
Daniel Williams, Joint MD of Wittmann Battenfeld UK, says: ‘It’s not a cliché to say that the Wittmann approach has been to anticipate the exact and future needs of the injection moulding customer; in energy use, in teach pendant and icon-based control, in reliability and quality of build. The guiding philosophy is a continual improvement in the design process – for the ultimate benefit of the plastics processor.’
As a result, Williams notes that ‘WIBA UK has automation solutions to suit all budgets and all needs – from the simplest sprue picker to the new Sonic pro range, from heavy-duty payloads to the lightest and fastest cycle time robots.’
With all product development, the devil lies in the detail and, like many industrial innovators, the Wittmann style of innovation likes to surprise the market with its attention to detail. Features such as the Eco Vac function, for example, which when fitted to the company’s professional robot series, saves energy and money for the experienced user. Eco Vac allows for a shutdown of the vacuum producer, thus minimizing the robot’s demand for compressed air and provides very significant weekly savings for the customer.
In the UK market, there a number of Wittmann products that seem to have been really taken to heart: The SmartPower injection moulding machine is one – compact, ergonomic, affordable – and the Wittmann Primus robot seems to be fast following in its tracks.
Positive UK customer experiences with the Primus robot will be the focus of much of WIBA UK’s communications work through 2020. Williams says that ‘we are delighted with the way that our customers have responded to the versatility and the great pricing structure for the Primus robot.’
In terms of performance, there seems little to distinguish the Primus from more expensive competitors – other than an extremely competitive price and the swapping of the distinctive Wittmann maroon livery for the Primus white colours.
The Primus 16, was primarily intended for use on machines with clamping forces of 20 to 200 tonnes locking force and was developed from Wittmann’s best selling W818 robot: It has CNC control; servo motor and optimised drives for all three axes; low noise smooth operations and minimal part removal times and can be deployed right across injection moulding sector and fitted to any injection moulding machine.’
Since the Wittmann Group acquired Battenfeld some twelve years ago there has sometimes been a misconception that Wittmann robots are only designed for Battenfeld moulding machines.
‘Nothing is further from the truth,’ says Williams. ‘In fact, the Primus is increasingly populated among all shapes, makes and sizes of injection moulding machine. One primary reason is that our technology is less about increasing complexity than reducing it. We know that most customers prefer simplified layouts, controls and operations and we believe that the Wittmann robots fit that bill.’
And there’s much more coming through the pipeline in 2020 to indicate that Wittmann will be pushing its robotic advantages through the industry. Wittmann technology shown at last year’s K 2019 exhibition, for example, gave the clearest indication yet that upcoming Wittmann robotic controls will also be able to control many other elements in any typical injection moulding production cell, including materials handling; temperature controllers, beside the press granulation and other auxiliaries.
Furthermore, all of this ancillary equipment will be able to be coordinated and controlled by the Wittmann robot regardless of the make of the injection moulding machine in the cell.
In this way, the purchase of a Wittmann robot can immediately get the customer onto a fast track experience of the benefits of Industry 4.0– connected and intelligent manufacturing.
This robotic-based production solution is entitled the WITTMANN CellController and is expected to be in the marketplace by the end of Q2, 2020.
Tracy Cadman, Joint WIBA UK MD, noted: ‘There are also innovations for customers in terms of commerce and the Smartseller options for upgrading and adding to the technology after the point of purchase.
‘In short, this Wittmann anniversary year is set to offer some very attractive options for UK injection moulding.’