According to the surveys of relevant research institutions, the volume of current global injection molding machine market is about USD 13 billion. The injection molding machines (IMM) are widely used in automotive, household products, electronics and home appliances, construction, packaging and medical equipment industries. In recent years, with the development of industrial technology, multi-component injection molding technique is widely adopted. Multi-component molding technique was firstly represented by multi injection (known as the multi-component injection molding machine commonly used in the industry) and started in the 1960s by German companies. At that time, the purpose of developing two color injection molding machine
was to improve the production efficiency of two-component parts, where the injection process and mold making technique were more complicated than those of the single-color injection technique.
However, prior to 2000, due to the technical and cost factors, the two-component injection molding technique has not received great attention in China. However, in the 1990s, Taiwan played an important role as the global electronics foundry. Many injection companies have introduced the two-component molding technique. In order to reduce the price of imported two-component injection machine, Taiwanese injection machine manufacturers have begun to develop their own two-component molding process jointly with mold manufacturers, which marked the development milestone of multi-component injection molding process in the China Region.
Figure: Two-color bowls produced by FB-280R two-component injection machine
The technical development of two-component injection molding machine can be divided into two main technical orientations: the first is represented by European and American enterprises, which are inclined toward universality and form two-component machine with the dual-purpose feature based on a single-color injection machine and related configuration; the second is represented by Japanese and Taiwanese enterprises, which are inclined toward specialty. Their two-component injection molding machine are dedicated, and integrate many customized functions, making them more suitable for professional mass production of two-component products.
Among the many injection molding machine companies in the China Region, FCS is renowned for its dedicated two-component IMM, which has been adopted and favored by many users for many years. Its two-component IMM enjoys a high reputation. The precision two-component IMM developed by FCS are divided into turning model, turning shaft model, electric model, laminated model, and color mixing model. Through strict test and real verification by market customers, FCS has formed 4 series of models consisting of more than 30 specifications, and the mold clamping force ranges from 135 tons to 1,900 tons. These models are widely used in automotive, mobile phone, laptop computers, pen making, handworking tools, high-end commodities , cosmetics, home appliances, and electronic product industries. According to internal statistics, as of 2018, FCS has sold more than 4,500 multi-component injection molding machines, and the cumulative sales volume has exceeded NTD 10 billion, of which more than 200 large-size two-component IMM with a mold clamping force of 700 tons or higher have been sold. The development of FCS two component IMM reflects the development and application of a multi-component injection molding technique in China.
As 2019 marks the 35th anniversary of FCS multi-component injection molding technique, this paper will review the development process of multi-component injection molding technique in the China Region and explore the past and present of the two-component injection molding machine.
Figure: FB series-Classical popular two-component IMM of FCS
In 1984, FCS launched the first generation of two-component IMM (KT-300D), which made FCS one of the few manufacturers that could produce two component IMM. At that time, the two-component IMM was mainly applied in the daily necessity industry, which was the early stage of two-component injection technique. In the 1990s, Taiwanese electronics industry started booming, and many foreign famous electronic information product companies placed their foundry manufacturing in Taiwan.
Figure: First generation of two-component of FCS in 1984 (KT-300D)
Therefore, the two-component process was used in 3C product industry, including mouse, buttons, knobs, remote controls, grips, and game consoles. In addition, with the improvement of living standards, two component IMM was used in the cosmetics industry to improve the added value of the products. The most representative two component IMM of FCS in this period is the FB series
. At present, FB has almost become synonymous with the two-component IMM in the China Region, which manifests its profound influence.
Figure: First generation of rotary axis two-component IMM of FCS in 1993 (FB140T)
Figure: First generation of interval IMM of FCS in 1993 (FB110C)
In addition to product design, the most critical factor to the success of FB series
is high-performance positioning. When the market was still dominated by ordinary IMM, FCS two-component IMM was positioned for high performance, which played a leading role for the subsequent two-component injection molding process. This highly forward-looking layout has also created the competitive advantage and leadership of FCS two-component IMM. After 2000, four major developments in two-component IMM process have taken place: large-size, precision/specialization, multi-injection and multi-function, and vertical turning shaft.
1. Large-size development of two-component injection molding machine
In January 2001, FCS launched a large-size two-component IMM (FB-1000R
) with a mold clamping force of 1,000 tons and a diameter of 1.6m, which was mainly applied in the automotive industry, and was one of the largest domestic two-component IMM in Taiwan at that time. Before the introduction of FB-1000R, if the plastic product manufacturers wanted to produce large-size two-component products, most of them could only choose imported models, which were, however, very costly. In addition, the maintenance was inconvenient, and they could not meet the special function requirements. After the launch of the model, due to the high-end positioning, international technical and quality levels, and customized functions, it has been widely purchased by many customers based on cost and other considerations.
According to customer feedback, after testing multiple molds, customers are extremely satisfied with the quality of this domestic two-component IMM, and consider them better than the German imported two component IMM. The R&D technique and product quality of FCS two-component IMM were once again recognized by customers. The product not only ended the technological monopoly of imported machines, but filled the gap of the domestic large-size two-component IMM. Furthermore, it won the Taiwan Excellence Award in 2002.
Figure: First large-size two-component IMM of FCS in 2010 (FB1000R)
Prior to 2006, there were extremely rare domestic large-size two-component IMM in the Chinese market. With the increasing market demand for medium and large-size two-component IMM, the automotive, home appliance, laptop computer, and houseware industries started to adopt two-component technique. Therefore, FCS introduced the production of large-size two-component IMM with a mold clamping force of 700 tons or higher to Ningbo FCS in 2006 to realize the localized mass production of medium and large-size two-component IMM, and set a development milestone for large-size two-component IMM in the Chinese market. Since then, FCS medium and large-size two-component IMM has been well received by the Chinese mainland market. From 2006 to 2010, it realized the massive production of large-size two-component IMM with a mold clamping force of 700 to 1,420 tons in China. In 2015, the mold clamping force was further increased to 1900 tons.
In the meanwhile, the Taiwan plant of FCS continued the R&D of large-size two-component IMM. In 2012, it launched a super-large two platen horizontal rotary table two-component IMM (HB-1900R
) with a mold clamping force of 1,900 ton, which won the Ringier Technology Innovation Award and the Taiwan Excellence Award in 2017. Later, in 2013, the super large two platen two-component IMM (LM-3200LB) with a mold clamping force of 3,200 tons was introduced. As the largest two platen two-component IMM in China, it can produce both single-color and two-component products, which increases the investment efficiency. By 2018, driven by the demand of automotive, home appliance and laptop computer industries, FCS has manufactured over 60 large-size two-component IMM every year, which shows that the application of large-size two-component IMM in the Chinese market has matured.
Figure: HB1900R won the Ringier Technology Innovation Award in 2017
Figure: Largest two platen two-component IMM in China in 2013 (LM3200LB)
Next part: Special Report On The 35th Anniversary Of Multi-Component Injection Molding Machine By FCS Ⅱ