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Tool and automation of the RICO-application

K-product presentation: Microswitch cap

This year’s K exhibition in Düsseldorf – the world’s biggest plastics trade fair – is titled “A world of pioneers”. RICO has been a regular at K for many years and unveils a new development at each fair. This year, the group will be demonstrating its production process for a microswitch cap in collaboration with molding machine manufacturer, Arburg.

Mini valve gate nozzle; eight cavities; a molded part weighing just 0.009g – these are just a few details of the great small demo application. Together with machine producer Arburg, RICO developed the production process for a microswitch cap, which is used in various applications in medicine and other industries. Production takes place on a fully electric Arburg Allrounder 270A injection molding machine with a clamping force of 350 kN. The machine is equipped with a size 5 microinjection unit and a RICO eight-cavity mold. During the production process, Elastosil LR3005 liquid silicone with a Shore A hardness of 40 is pre-mixed using a cartridge and then injected using an 8mm screw.

RICO injects directly into each cavity using a mini valve gate nozzle, and production is waste-free. A Multilift H 3+1 is available for handling. A camera monitors whether each cavity is filled during the process, and whether all parts are correctly removed by the gripper. This ensures that the injection mold is protected against damage and the right number of parts are removed. Defects can also be spotted in individual components, which are then separated from the parts that meet the specifications. Finally, the product is automatically packed in an environmentally-friendly paper bag and sealed.

“Compared with the application at Fakuma 2018, we’ve downsized by half this year,” explains RICO’s Sales Manager Martin Rapperstorfer, adding that microinjection applications follow a different set of rules. “All units had to be scaled down. We needed to completely rethink the assembly unit, material infeed, the screw, the master form with mini valve gate nozzle, as well as the master mold and the inserts.” Last year at Fakuma, RICO exhibited a duckbill valve with a part weight of 0.038g. The new application on show at K has a volume of 0.008cm3 and weighs only 0.009g.

Don’t inspect for quality, produce quality
RICO knows what it takes. The company has been producing molds for silicone and multi-component injection molding for 25 years, and manufacturing silicone parts itself for the last decade. In our view, mold development, process stability and sophisticated automation systems play a vital role in ensuring the quality of our components. “RICO is synonymous with stable processes. Constantly changing settings and parameters is not part of our philosophy. We integrate functions and procedures into our injection molding cycles with the aim of generating as much added value as possible for our customers. We define our processes once and then identify the ideal configuration. Production of the injection molded parts needs to run without any further intervention,” Rapperstorfer points out.

Hard Facts Microswitch cap

Medical technology application
Mini valve gate nozzle
8 cavities
Volume: 0.008cm3
Weight of molded part: 0.009g
Shot weight with 8 cavities: 0.072g
Material: Elastosil LR 3005/40
Colour: white

You can find RICO at stand 13A24 in hall 13 at K Düsseldorf. The demo application will be on display opposite the Arburg stand (A13-1 to A13-2).