injection molding Italian manufacturer of DC motors enters injection molding
Source: press release
Value takes many forms. But for an Italian company specialized in the production of DC motors for automobiles and industry, Sumitomo (SHI) Demag is much more than a machine supplier. The affinity, advisory support and hands-on guidance provided by Electro-Parts over the past two decades have proved invaluable, which in 2002 began opening its own in-house molding facility.
From leveraging its extensive experience in purchasing and sourcing plastic components for its engines, to currently in-house producing 30 million precision components per year, the Italian company is now on an ambitious mission to break into new markets. Electro-Parts SpA, based in Bossolasco, Northern Italy, has built a solid reputation for 20 years as a quality manufacturer of DC motors and gears mainly used in the automotive sector. However, dependence on an external supplier could have thwarted future strategic ambitions around the turn of the century.
To secure the company’s future, CEO Marco Falcone approached Paolo Zirondoli, current Managing Director of Sumitomo (SHI) Demag in Italy, on a trial basis to assess the feasibility of setting up their own mold shop. Paolo’s advice proved invaluable. With the support of Sumitomo (SHI) Demag, Electro-Parts developed a roadmap to bring injection molding of its precision components in-house. Starting with one hydraulically driven machine, the company’s fleet now includes 14 injection molding machines from Sumitomo (SHI) Demag, including nine all-electric precision machines, working three shifts daily, including a ghost shift at night. CEO Marco Falcone recalls the pivotal moment when Electro-Parts transitioned from subcontracting its component production to in-house molding and commends the ongoing advisory support and total solution approach.
“Sumitomo (SHI) Demag’s support in starting this project was invaluable. The relationship established at the beginning was mutually beneficial. They were an exceptional partner, sharing the same affinity for our business strategy and providing assurance that the equipment was 100 percent reliable and fit for the strategy we were proposing. They helped us make the transition by using the indirect molding experience we gained from buying parts into the development of our own direct molding process. Electro-Parts introduced a facility that from day one allowed us to keep control of production capacity, costs and quality with this new approach. The synergy between our two companies has been constant. Through this mutual trust, the Sumitomo (SHI) Demag Italy team has helped us to accelerate our ambitions.”
Since 2002, the Electro-Parts factory has grown five times, adding equipment that has obtained ISO 16949:2002 certification and establishing dedicated assembly and electronics R&D centers.
Masters of precision molding
With around 280 employees today, including 180 in Italy and 100 in Romania, Electro-Parts manufactures and assembles a wide range of moving parts, DC and brushless motors for vehicle roofs, electric windows as well as parking brakes, seat adjusters, automatic mechanisms for opening and closing the trunk and cooling fan. Each mass-molded component is assembled and EOL tested on one of 30 automated on-site lines. Since assembly robots for production lines are not tolerant of variables, the reproducibility and precision of each individual component during casting is crucial, notes Paolo. One of the main reasons why Electro-Parts installed the first all-electric Intelect Smart machine in 2009, launched thanks to the dedication and commitment of local representative Roberto Sallemi, is that Sumitomo Demag’s Italian team has been caring for the customer together for years takes care .
Since that date, the company has been expanding its machine park exclusively with all-electric injection molding machines, first with the Intelect Smart series, followed by the Intelect 2. Two of the latest series were installed in July 2021. For automotive applications that require larger dimensions, stability, Electro-Parts mainly uses polyamide, materials and other safety and fiber-reinforced components. Injection pressure control and process optimization are critical to moldability. Paolo explains: “For industries where precision is paramount, the combination of electric drives and digital control can make injection molding a predictable and precise operation. As a result of the parallel movements, Electro-Parts reported a 15 percent increase in productivity on their new machines compared to their hydraulic machines.
“Fewer defects and thus less material wastage were also a decisive driver for the switch to all-electric machines. Due to the high technical requirements and characteristics of the components, Electro-Parts cannot reuse and recycle old material. With current material costs and supply issues, every plastic granule must be converted into a part and not wasted. Processing 200 tons of material each year, the Intelect machines address this critical challenge as well as other sustainability agendas including energy use, water use and noise emissions to ensure employee well-being. “The Intelect machines allow injection molders to work much closer to the low weight limits, with greater precision and consequently fewer defects and lower scrap rates. In practice, this means that no additional quality control or associated costs are required.
Put simply, every Intelect machine consistently produces top quality parts,” adds Paolo. Luca Avataneo, who has managed the Italian company’s entire molding shop since day one, comments: “We change molds two to three times a day and process technically very demanding polymers, including glass fiber reinforced polyamides, self-extinguishing materials, PBT, PPA and more. Consequently, every machine must be easily and quickly convertible, reactive, flexible, reliable and powerful. ”
Sustainable and smarter
The direct drives from Sumitomo (SHI) Demag, developed by the Japanese parent company, are another feature that Electro-Parts values. Designed and built exclusively for the injection molding process by experts truly devoted to motion control, the high-torque motor is reactive and reduces the risk of inertia.
Paolo explains: “Sumitomo (SHI) Demag is unique in that we don’t use conventional motors. The reason: Injection molding is not a simple standard process. It’s high speed with very quick acceleration and braking. Instead of efficiency losses due to additional components as with traditional indirect technology, our motors are connected directly to the axle. This results in a higher injection performance and a more dynamic response. As a result, under certain conditions, injection molders can achieve energy savings of over 70 percent and even shorter cycle times compared to conventional injection molding.”
All Electro-Parts Intelect machines are also equipped with Sumitomo (SHI) Demag’s patented Active Flow Balance. This unique technology ensures complete filling of the mold cavities, which range from single to eight cavities for Electro-Parts. As the main person responsible for the machines, Luca explains: “The active flow balance function uses the compression of the melt inside the barrel to stabilize the pressure, resulting in partially filled cavities being filled by the expanding melt. This means that the same pressure is applied to each cavity, eliminating burrs and incomplete fillings. This automatically saves me time as complex injection profiles can be created in less than a minute with minimal effort by me or other technical staff.”
Paolo confirms: “Active Flow Balance overcomes many of the problems that can lead to misforming in the injection molding process and undermine productivity and profits. Using this technology can reduce rejects by up to 40 percent.” Another unique feature – Active Protect ensures that falling components are safely ejected during the opening and closing process, protecting the mold from damage. Paolo clarifies: “The additional sensor on the link of the toggle system controls and measures the forces on the closing movement during the entire stroke. If the sensor detects that the position or forces deviate from the set parameters and the associated tolerances, it reacts immediately.
“As additional tool protection, active Protect also monitors the opening paths. This ensures that mechanical form elements, such as pins, are protected from damage.
The complete package
The provision of all equipment, including refrigeration systems and peripherals, coupled with the consulting support, training and process optimization guidance from day one, has set Electro-Parts on a new strategic path which it embraces with confidence. CEO Marco comments: “Having previously relied on subcontractors to supply components, we now have the acumen and capacity to consider expanding production to supply assembled precision motors for new markets.” Enthusiastic On future prospects, Marco concludes: “The extensive experience we have gained in injection molding of precision components to high quality standards in our highly efficient molding shop, all fully equipped with Sumitomo (SHI) Demag machines headed by Luca, has us open to new production scenarios. Including subcontracting our services to manufacture sophisticated parts for other OEMs. Reaching this point was all the more doable thanks to the tireless support of Sumitomo (SHI) Demag. It was a technological and team effort.”