Toshiba Machine Co., Ltd. develops an integrated system combining an injection molding machine, robot, tester and other peripheral devices to mold optical lens in a single cycle. The system has the ability to mold two different optical lens thickness and size of in single cycle.
This system provides a significant edge over the previous molding method in which each product was molded separately followed by assembly then testing. Now with this development, the optical lens production cycle from injection to testing will be completed in a single cycle. This would not only provide a high-quality optimum solution but would be cost competitive.
Generally die manufacturing and molding are performed separately when there is a requirement to assemble lenses and lens rim using same resin. Instead Toshiba system, it uses the same die for the production of different cavities shapes. For the optimum molding of each component in the same cycle a two-step injection control and die gate control of injection molding machine are combined.
This new development of two-step injection molding system lowers the production cost by reducing die manufacturing cost, cut down unnecessary steps in setup operations and elimination the storage costs.
Further processes can be automated with Toshiba Machine articulated robots and SCARA robots which are combined for product take-out, assembly, and testing processes.The process automation by the robots not only reduces the labor requirement but gives 24-hour continuous operation for higher productivity with accuracy.
As observed by Toshihiro Kasai, manager of the Injection Molding Machine Division “The optical resin specifications and diverse molding control of the injection molding machine enable the system to support a wide range of injection products, including thick lenses, diffuser lenses, clearance lamps, and more,”. Further, he maintained that “An articulated robot can be used for product take-out to prevent the entry of foreign objects from the top of the molding machine and enable the production of optical components in a clean molding environment.” To this, he added, “The key feature of this system is its ability to perform assembly operations of part reversal and positioning in limited space, which is typically difficult for cartesian coordinate robots.”