BarkleyA view of the Barkley Plastics IMIW mould in action – pictured here at the Wittmann Battenfeld plant in Kottingbrunn, Austria
This month, trade moulder, Barkley Plastics, has announced the launch of its newly developed In-Mould Internal Welding (IMIW) process, one it says will provide moulders with a convenient and fault-free method of ensuring flawless product without having to engage in post-moulding welding operations. Here, BP&R takes a closer look at the innovation.
Birmingham-based Barkley Plastics has worked alongside Wittmann Battenfeld in bringing IMIW to market. The Barkley Plastics IMIW process successfully premiered at the Wittmann Battenfeld Competence Days in Kottingbrunn Austria (April 24/25) and the IMIW technology then went on to win an award at the Plastpol exhibition in Kielce, Poland in May 2013.
“The time has now come to share IMIW expertise with the rest of the industry,” said Barkley Plastics’ Owner and Managing Director, Mark Harwood. “The technology is fully ready for the marketplace and for other moulders to use it on a ‘first come first served’ basis. Needless to say, we at Barkley Plastics are also preparing to mould IMIW-based products to client specifications.”
Barkley Plastics says encapsulation is a large part of the IMIW appeal and is also key to providing a number of failsafe moulding solutions for any number of industries, including critical applications in electronics, medical, healthcare and other sectors.
In-Mould Internal Welding (IMIW) allows the simultaneous moulding of two parts within a mould tool; one on the fixed half and one on the moving half. Alignment methods of the two halves after first-stage moulding can be achieved by either radial, linear or angular movement. The parts are then internally welded together, achieving a hermetic seal and negating any need for post moulding welding operations.
Prior to welding, the product/insert can be loaded into either side. Barkley Plastics says the simplicity of the process creates significant cost and convenience advantages. A smaller manufacturing footprint pre-empts any need (and cost) for assembly or post moulding operations.
IMIW is also said to cut out the need for further parts or materials, as the manufacturing process needs no seals or fixings in order to achieve a hermetic seal. The integrity of the weld is also measured internally via means of a self-calibrating pressure transducer. Any faults thus identified in the mould tool are then automatically removed from production. In this way, says Barkley Plastics, a 100 percent production quality assurance is automatically achieved, again negating need for further production equipment and assessment.
The company also points out that IMIW helps product designers to stretch their imaginations since the process facilitates almost any internal shape desired together with a more consistent wall thickness. IMIW has been successfully trialed in a number of commodity and engineering plastics, including PC, PC/ABS, Polyamides, PPSU and Glass-filled plastics.
The Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) has also been instrumental in validating key parts of the IMIW process, using optical microscopy to investigate weld integrity; interface conditions, material homogeneity and MEK attack.
“On all counts the IMIW technique passes with flying colours. We are therefore very excited about our new process – both for our clients and for the industry,” commented Barkley Plastics’ Technical Director, Maurice Cassidy.
“In my view IMIW will now greatly reduce design constraints for future plastic enclosures. It will also give the processor options – simplifying and streamlining production and helping to reduce costs. IMIW enables the whole moulding and assembly process to be completed in one step.'”
Barkley Plastics is the moulding partner in the Midlands Assembly Network (MAN); a ten-company organisation created in 2006 and responsible for boosting sales and marketing for its members in the region.
Over the past couple of months the MAN network connection has led to Barkley Plastics enjoying some prime time spells on BBC Midlands TV, taking part in coverage that shows successful Midlands-based manufacturers in the region; increasing output and exports.
Matt Powell, Barkley Plastics Business Development Manager, said: “IMIW has arrived at a great time for our company and now provides great new string to our bow; for designers; for other moulders and clients and in the service of our exports which now stand at nearly 20 percent.”
Recent Barkley Plastics successes have included the ‘re-shoring’ of M&S-based moulding work from China and a number of significant orders for German automotive group, BMW.