The growth in the IoT also opens up huge possibilities for micro moulding as there is burgeoning demand for a variety of new and innovative micro devices.
There is no doubt that when manufacturing highly complex micro moulded components, data can help to ensure a maximum level of repeatability in the micro injection moulding process, create consistent quality, and mitigate defects. Data also provides the general benefits of reduced downtime through preventative maintenance and machine upkeep.
Terminology is quite interchangeable in this field. When discussing smart manufacturing many refer to the IoT, Industrial IoT (IIoT), or Industry 4.0. The actual term IoT was first used by Peter T. Lewis in 1985 to describe as he stated it “the integration of people, processes, and technology with connectable devices and sensors to enable remote monitoring, status, manipulation, and evaluation of trends of such devices.”
So while the term has been around for a few decades, the concept continues to develop and evolve as technology continues to advance through new hardware, and through the collection and analysis of data.
For precision micro moulders in particular, the IoT allows for gains in production efficiencies, improved production quality, and reduced time to market. Machines can now communicate failure points and collect data that can be used to improve predictive and preventative maintenance, which in the long run improves uptime. Data analysis is used to predict and prevent failure; it indicates when intervention is required and recommends the necessary corrective actions. Troubleshooting is more efficient, which benefits both manufacturers and customers.
The drive to glean more — and better — data from industrial equipment and systems will continue to improve productivity in the micro moulding sector as technology, sensors, and systems continue to evolve, to the benefit of the moulders and their customers.