AMES, Iowa — A new injection molding machine will increase production capacity and prototyping capabilities of the Center for Bioplastics and Biocomposites (CB2), a Center for Crops Utilization Research (CCUR) program at Iowa State University.
David Grewell, director of CB2 and professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering (ABE), organized the purchase of an HM 90/350 injection molding machine from Wittmann Battenfeld for research and education purposes.
With corporate headquarters in Austria, Wittmann Battenfeld is a global company, with 10 production facilities in seven countries, including the United States, which has headquarters located in Torrington, CT. They also have Tech Centers in Corona, CA and South Elgin, IL. They are committed to doing their part to help further research and education in the plastics industry, and are pleased for the opportunity to help support CB2 and the work they do.
"This new injection unit has five times the capacity of the current injection molding machines that are available at CCUR and ABE," Grewell said. He explains that the new machine has a hydraulic clamp design with 101 tons of clamping force—or the amount of force that keeps the mold closed during the injection process—compared to the 22-ton clamp injection molding machines currently available to Iowa State researchers.
"The current systems at Iowa State are limited to producing small test samples. The new system will be able to make larger plastics parts, such as medium-sized automotive components and components for the consumer electronics industry," said Grewell.
In addition to the hydraulic clamp design, the machine is equipped with a speed-control servomotor that reduces power consumption by up to 35 percent and lowers noise emissions.
Grewell said the machine will be used by CB2 researchers to test newly developed biobased plastics and composites for possible industrial applications and would improve their ability to make prototypes.
"The system will allow real applications to be produced from these new biomaterials and give potential users the confidence through testing that the materials can meet or exceed current specifications."
Keith Vorst, associate professor of food science and human nutrition (FSHN) and CB2 faculty member, leads a lab at Iowa State that focuses on the design, safety and function of polymeric and biobased food packaging. He said the new injection molding machine will be very useful when evaluating packaging substrates from petroleum-based and plant-based sources. It will enable his research lab to evaluate new technologies for validating the safety of packaging materials during the manufacturing process.
"An injection molding machine gives us the ability to demonstrate the importance of selecting the correct substrate for performance, safety, quality and cost. It is also an integral part of the food safety and supply chain system," Vorst explained.
The injection molding machine also will be used for educational purposes including undergraduate and graduate courses in ABE, FSHN and the Biorenewable Resources and Technology (BRT) Graduate Program.
"This new system will give students hands-on equipment experience and exposure to a different machine design and user interface," Grewell said.
The Wittmann Battenfeld HM 90/350 injection molding machine was purchased with funds from ABE; BRT; CCUR; Center for Industrial Research and Service; College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; College of Engineering; William Graves from horticulture; Ruth MacDonald, Buddhi Lamsal and Vorst from FSHN; Theo Martin from materials science and engineering; and Brent Shanks from chemical and biological engineering.
For more information about CB2, visit www.cb2.iastate.edu, or follow CB2 on Twitter at @CB2_4U.