The technology provides benefits across virtually any part type, size, material, tolerance requirement, and so on. Applications that require managing viscosity variation, such as running post-consumer recycle materials, is an ideal application for iMFLUX’s Auto Viscosity Adjust (AVA) technology. Applications where sink, warp, flow lines, and surface finish are important, the nearly perfect laminar flow, lack of hesitation, and continuous mold contact that results from “packing as it fills” help to overcome these cosmetic defects. In some cases the magnitude of the advantages can be impacted by part design, for example if cycle time reduction is the main goal, then parts thicker than about 0.75mm achieve the largest reduction.
A severely velocity limited press will limit iMFLUX advantages, since the machine is unable to achieve the screw velocity required to reach the desired constant pressure setpoint. A recovery limited press can limit the potential to reduce cycle time, since in this scenario the potential for shorter cooling time is not possible. Cycle reduction will also be limited when downstream operations cannot be accelerated to accommodate the faster cycles. Molds that have been tuned to accommodate warp or sink can limit benefits, since the low-constant-pressure process does not warp or sink as much and may not match the desired final part shape and dimensions.
In most cases iMFLUX can achieve the desired part shape - but not always. The iMFLUX process results in less warp and distortion, so the final part will more closely retain the mold shape. When a mold has extensive windage, this sometimes results in the iMFLUX part not matching the desired shape/dimensions – in these cases the mold may need to be modified.
The iMFLUX controller is designed to work with most specialty molding formats. The system is able to handle up to 4-shot molding applications and can be configured for co-injection processes. Over-molding applications, such as in-mold labels, benefit from the highly uniform laminar flow characteristics. The thicker frozen fraction associated with “packs-as-it-fills” makes it ideal for gas assist applications, as it is much easier to provide consistent wall thickness and greater void control from entry to termination. Multiple configurable IO points provide the versatility to interface with other ancillary equipment and the molding machine. Overall, the system is highly flexible and able to handle almost any type of injection molding platform.
The “packs-as-it-fills” effect provides similar cosmetic advantages to a gas counter-pressure, but without the mold complexity and expense of a gas counterpressure system.
iMFLUX provides advantages for co-injection – for both simultaneous and sequential formats. iMFLUX’s constant-pressure-process avoids the potential for excessive pressure differential between the material layers. By maintaining each layer at a constant pressure, you avoid the potential for either the inner layer to burst through the outer layer or the outer layer pinching off the inner layer. These are common problems with conventional velocity-controlled processes that iMFLUX eliminates.
The “packs-as-it-fills” condition has many dimensional, structural, and aesthetic advantages. Dimensional consistency is improved as a result of less post mold sink and distortion. Structural properties are improved particularly at weld lines and at the gate(s). Aesthetics are improved as a result of continuous polymer contact with the molding surface - avoiding issues such as ghosting and tiger striping.
There are 3 main process levers are: 1) Pressure setpoint – the constant pressure measured at the machine nozzle, 2) Step time – the time the system will maintain constant pressure, and 3) Cavity response – a proportional response to cavity pressure as the flow front nears the end-of-fill. The optimal settings are determined by using the iMFLUX range finding and DOE process. Similar to conventional molding, other non-iMFLUX factors may be important - such as melt temperature, mold temperature, and recover conditions. These additional factors are evaluated in the same manner as a conventional process development.
There isn’t a common velocity, rather velocity is variable and a result of what is needed to maintain the desired melt pressure setpoint. The average velocity is typically about 2-3 times slower than a standard conventional process.
Mold setup time is unaffected, and process start-up time is typically equal or shorter than a conventional process. iMFLUX also provides a Start-up Mode feature that automates the process to ensures a safe, error free startup.
The iMFLUX process continuously packs-as-it-fills, providing uniform packing throughout the mold cavity. A conventional process will tend to have a heavier pack near the gate, which is necessary to achieve good packing near the end-of-fill. As a result, an iMFLUX part weight is typically reduced about 0-3%.
iMFLUX significantly boosts Overall Equipment Efficiency (OEE). This results from running faster cycle-times, reducing scrap rates, increasing up-time, and eliminating operator touches.
Weld line strength and appearance can be greatly improved with the iMFLUX process resulting from improved weld line packing and melt homogeneity. Weld line packing is improved with iMFLUX, since packing pressure immediately builds at the weld line as the two flow fronts come together – with conventional processing packing does not occur until the mold is completely full. Melt homogeneity is improved with iMFLUX, since constant pressure filling conditions maintain a more consistent compressive load on the polymer matrix. Conventional processes create varying pressure that can “pump” minor constituents to the flow front – resulting in weaker and more visible weld lines.
The iMFLUX process improves dimensional and aesthetic part quality. Dimensional variation is minimized by iMFLUX’s more stable interaction between process variables, and ability to compensate for material and environmental variations in real-time. Aesthetic quality is improved by iMFLUX’s continuous packing conditions, lower shear, and nearly “perfect” laminar flow - which improve issues such as sink, warp, gate blush, flow marks, and poor weld line appearance.
The base iMFLUX process uses less energy to fill, less energy to build clamp tonnage, and reduced cycle-time saves energy on a per part basis. Energy savings have been measured across many applications, and savings range from about 5% to as much as 30% on larger energy intensive part types.
iMFLUX enables running more sustainable materials, reduces energy consumption, and allows for designing light-weighted parts. The Auto Viscosity Adjust (AVA) feature enables running highly variable materials such as post-consumer recycle. Lower shear conditions enable running shear sensitive materials such as many bioderived polymers, compostable polymers, and bio-filled materials. iMFLUX uses 10-30% less energy to fill, clamp, and mold a part – which reduces your carbon footprint. Lower molding pressures and non-hesitating flow enables light-weighted part designs.
Auto Viscosity Adjust (AVA) performs well across virtually any part design. The AVA feature continuously senses resistance t0 flow front progression in the mold. For example, as the flow front reaches an area of reduced cross sectional area AVA will reduce the material flow rate – an increase in cross sectional area will result in an increase in flow rate. Part design features such as corners, bends, thermal differences, venting, and other features impacting flow front resistance are immediately detected and compensated for in real time.
Yes, the AVA (Auto Viscosity Adjust) system is continuously measuring resistance to flow, and immediately adapting the process to compensate for any changes that occur. The source of these changes can be related to the material, mold, machine, or environmental changes. This allows the process to autonomously adapt to these changes with no operator touches.
The iMFLUX process reduces or eliminates the need for operator touches, since it automatically adjusts to accommodate material, mold, and environmental variation. The system also comes standard with ArmsReach, which allows your team to remotely monitor and control the process.
There is no need for material grade information, since iMFLUX is continuously measuring material viscosity as the mold is being filled. This is accomplished by measuring plastic pressure in the machine nozzle, as well as the linear movement of the screw. In essence, iMFLUX is treating the machine like a rheometer that continuously determines the material viscosity in real time.
iMFLUX’s innovation pipeline is inspired by our Journey to Autonomous Molding, which will automate time consuming and complex processing activities, make intelligent decisions on behalf of the operator, and provide new tools to mold challenging parts. Additionally, iMFLUX will continue to simplify, streamline, and drive synergies with the injection molding machine.
Standard machine controls cannot respond fast enough to maintain hesitation free filling, and standard controls do not compensate in real time for changes in molding conditions. The iMFLUX system does three key things a standard machine doesn’t: 1) it controls the process using plastic pressure, rather than a proxy for plastic pressure such as a load cell or hydraulic pressure reference; 2) dynamic tuning parameters are needed that are specific to the mold, material, and machine; and 3) the system monitors & controls flow front progression and compensates for changes in real-time. These three proprietary features are required to form a reliable process using constant filling pressure.
Screw bounce is eliminated in an iMFLUX process. In a conventional process it is difficult to control screw bounce when transferring from fill (velocity control) to hold (pressure control). In an iMFLUX process there is no transfer from velocity to hold, which eliminates the primary cause of screw bounce. Also, because iMFLUX tunes the performance of the machine to match the mold and material being run, this improves machine responsiveness.
Yes, the screw must have sufficient cushion to ensure the mold can be completely filled. Importantly, the iMFLUX process is not sensitive to the amount of cushion, so a larger cushion can be used to manage issues such as leaking check-rings and screw blow-by – this larger cushion has no adverse impact on process consistency and part quality.
iMFLUX runs at lower pressure enabling melt temperature to be reduced without exceeding practical molding pressures. Lower melt temperatures are encouraged since this leads to reduced cycle time, lower energy consumption, and has advantages for heat sensitive materials.
The iMFLUX process performs as intended with general purpose screw designs, as well as specialty screw designs. Also, because iMFLUX controls the process by plastic pressure it is not dependent on screw travel (or cushion) for process consistency – for this reason it is more forgiving to screw related issues such as inconsistent checkring repeatability or blow-by in the barrel.
iMFLUX’s lower filling pressure leads to reduced clamp tonnage requirements. For example, if filling pressures are reduced by 50%, then clamp tonnage is also reduced by about 50%. This provides the potential to “up-cavitate” tooling in the same size press, or moving an existing mold to a smaller more capital efficient press.
iMFLUX does not have a separate filling and packing phase – so there is no transfer. The process continuously packs the part as the mold is filled. As the mold is nearly full and cavity pressure begins to build at the end of fill, an additional factor is used to adjust the filling pressure. In most cases, this factor adjusts the driving pressure downward in proportion to the build in cavity pressure – similar to tapping on the brakes of your car to come to a smooth stop.
The technology has been applied with great success across dozens of commodity, engineering, and composite/filled materials. The adaptive nature of the process makes it ideal for materials that are variable in viscosity, such as post-consumer recycle, wide-spec materials, moisture level variation, and certain additives, colorants, and fillers. Results are improved with materials that are prone to warp, sink, or have aesthetic issues such as splay, tiger striping, read through, or “ghosting”. Filled materials, require slightly faster filling, however, surface appearance and warp are improved in most cases. Optical applications can benefit from the lower and more uniform stress concentration provided by the low-constant-pressure process.
We see advantages in both crystalline and amorphous materials. In some cases, we see bigger pressure reduction's with crystalline materials than we see with amorphous materials, but it's not a cut and dry metric. You really have to go material by material to answer this question more precisely, but in all cases the technology provides substantial pressure reduction across both crystalline and amorphous materials.
We have molded fractional melt materials for a variety of applications. This is a strength of the iMFLUX process, as the process uses much lower pressures so even as material viscosity increases the peak injection pressure remains much lower than with a conventional process.
iMFLUX provides advantages for filled materials including various types of glass fillers. Filled materials require filling the mold faster than a typical non-filled material, however, iMFLUX still fills the mold slower and at lower pressures relative to a conventional process. For glass filled materials, the consistent flow front progression provides advantages with glass orientation and surface appearance of the part. Similar surface appearance advantages have been observed in other filled materials such as talc, carbon, calcium, and natural fiber-based fillers.
Yes, the process has been successfully applied to blowing agents applications. Blowing agents require fast filling, and since some iMFLUX benefits require filling slower (e.g. packs-as-it-fills), some iMFLUX benefits will be reduced when running chemical blowing agents. However, many benefits remain such as the ability to adapt to material, mold, and environmental variations.
Yes, iMFLUX has been successfully applied for PVC applications. The process provides advantages for improved process stability, improved part aesthetics, and lower shear conditions reduce material degradation.
The iMFLUX process can allow you to run lower cost materials, use difficult materials for non-traditional applications, and expand your design window for parts and molds. iMFLUX expands the processing window by lowering molding pressures, reducing molded in stresses, and allowing reduced shear rates at the gate and throughout the part. This expanded processing window enables you to overcome difficult processing challenges for many materials.
In general, part designs can be reduced in thickness by 10-20% or more, while maintaining peak molding pressures below a typical conventional molding process. The minimum wall thickness will vary by part design and material type. For example, with polypropylene we have molded parts with wall thicknesses of less than 0.5mm, with flow length to thickness ratios (L/T) of greater than 400. With polycarbonate we have molded parts less than 1mm with L/T’s greater than 300.
iMFLUX’s lower molding pressure and non-hesitating flow characteristics make it ideal for molding thin parts and parts with high L/T’s. Lower molding pressure can be “re-invested” to design thinner parts and still keep molding pressures lower than a conventional process. Also, non-hesitating flow condition keeps the flow front progressing, this enables molding higher L/T’s than what is practical using conventional processes.
In general, there are no mold modifications required of any kind – industry standard design guidelines work well, virtually any feed system design is compatible, and you do not need any special sensors or hardware. In most cases critical part dimensions can be achieved without the need for mold adjustment – however this must be verified through molding trials.
For new mold designs, there are many opportunities to leverage iMFLUX’s lower pressure and unique filling conditions to enhance both mold and part designs. For example, the lower molding pressures can be leveraged to up-cavitate molds and still run in a smaller press, part designs can be light-weighted, higher viscosity materials can be used for non-traditional applications.
Mold temperature sensors can be incorporated in to the iMFLUX control, however, it is not required to achieve an optimal iMFLUX process. Generally, the complexity of adding a temperature sensor to the mold outweighs the potential control benefits - and for this reason temperature sensors are rarely used.
The process does not require a pressure sensor in the mold. The pressure sensor in the machine nozzle is the only sensor required to run the iMFLUX process. However, if a cavity pressure sensor is available, this data can be incorporated in to the iMFLUX process and in some cases can improve overall process control.
Yes, we have applied the process across many multiple gate applications with great success. In scenarios where multiple gates lead to flow front convergence in the mold, because iMFLUX packs-as-it-fills it forms strong and consistent weld lines. For sequential gated parts, the iMFLUX process uses a constant driving pressure across all gates eliminating the problem of pressure drops and spikes caused by conventional velocity-controlled processes - this results in a consistent flow front progression throughout the system with no flow hesitation.
Yes, iMFLUX provides a big improvement in part-to-part consistency. This is due to reduced cavity-to-cavity pressure differential, which results in much more similar filling conditions across all cavities. For example, with a conventional process in a multi-cavity mold your first to fill cavities will always weigh more than your last to fill cavities - with iMFLUX the first to fill and last to fill cavities have nearly the same part weight.
In an iMFLUX process pressure is held constant, and velocity varies to maintain this constant pressure. When multiple valve gates are opened and closed at different times, the iMFLUX control system will automatically accelerate or decelerate the screw velocity to maintain the constant pressure setpoint. This provides the ideal filling condition for multiple gate systems, since it ensures a steady flow front progression.
The iMFLUX process runs well in hot runner systems designed to conventional standards. iMFLUX’s lower average filling rate provides the potential to reduce runner volume, use smaller gates, and reduce the need for valve tips. For multiple gated parts, fewer drops can often be used due to lower molding pressures and ability to fill higher L/T’s.
iMFLUX increases the potential to use cold runners in place of a hot runner system. The process enables a substantial reduction in cold runner volume (up to 50% or more). For this reason, runner scrap and/or regrind rates are reduced, and cycle times can also be substantially reduced.
The iMFLUX system is designed to work with any injection molding machine, however each system is configured for use on a specific machine. Moving the system to another machine requires a re-configuration of the system to ensure proper system performance.
The transducer should be zeroed when changed or replaced. Generally, no calibration is needed during normal operation. iMFLUX keeps the calibration process simple, by providing a simple “one touch” calibration feature on the user interface.
iMFLUX is less demanding on motors and pumps, since it molds at averagely lower pressures and screw velocities. Older machines need to be in good working order. For example, the machine should have solid pump displacements, cylinders should not have excessive wear, and so on. A good practice is to confirm the machine is in good working order prior to installing iMFLUX. Importantly, older machines usually have slower processors – so the high speed (1 ms) iMFLUX processor is a substantial performance upgrade for these older machines.
In most cases iMFLUX does not require a controller upgrade to run on older machines. Some machine maker’s provide retrofit upgrades designed to enhance the iMFLUX interface, and also improve performance of non-iMFLUX machine functions.
The iMFLUX process fills at lower average filling rate, which can make a general purpose press perform the filling function with comparable performance to a high performance press. Other machine functions, such as clamp movement and recover, are not affected by the iMFLUX system. For any machine type, the iMFLUX process increases productivity and enables CAPEX advantages resulting from the lower molding pressures and clamp tonnage requirements.
An adaptor containing the penetration for the pressure sensor is added between the nozzle body and the barrel end cap. The nozzle body can then be maintained without the need to remove the adaptor and/or pressure sensor. In some cases, for example when a filter pack or shut-off nozzle is used, it may be desirable to incorporate the sensor directly into the nozzle body. These cases are evaluated on a case-by-case basis and appropriate provisions for maintenance are incorporated into the design.
In most cases, iMFLUX has worked directly with the machine maker to develop an interface kit. Once this interface kit is installed, the iMFLUX system takes control of the forward and backward movement of the screw during the filling phase. All other machine functions continue to be controlled by the native machine controller – such as clamping, recovery, and so on… Your iMFLUX Sales representative can provide guidance on what is needed to integrate your specific machine.
The list price of an IPC at a single US location is $60,000 excluding the cost of the OEM signal package or interface if required. Actual prices are dependent on order quantity and location. The price includes hardware, software, installation, process set-up, iMFLUX training (up to 6 seats in training at AIM or iMFLUX HQ), a use license, and a 1-year warranty on iMFLUX parts and labor.
When partners offer iMFLUX technology on new machines, IMMs are responsible for pricing.
iMFLUX technology can be installed directly on to existing injection molding machines in the field or can be ordered “on board” from an OEM partner. Pricing differences reflect the effort required to retrofit in the field.
iMFLUX can be purchased up front or via a subscription. Your iMFLUX Sales resource can work with you on options to best meet your needs.
iMFLUX can run a trial on a customer’s mold at either the iMFLUX facility in Hamilton, Ohio, one of our partner OEM facilities, or at a customer’s site.
• When a mold is shipped to the iMFLUX site for a trial (preferred), the price is $7,500 for a one-week trial which includes one mold and one material.
• When a trial is run at a customer’s site, a quote will be provided that outlines the price of integrating the press and resourcing the trial. If a customer decides to move forward with a purchase, a portion of the price of the trial may be applied against the purchase. If a customer decides to not move forward with a purchase, the price is non-refundable.
• When a trial occurs at an OEM, pricing is managed directly by the OEM.
An iMFLUX ROI calculator is available and helps customers estimate the value that iMFLUX technology can deliver. It is comprehensive across all benefit areas, OEE, Material Flexibility, Quality, Capex and Sustainability. Your iMFLUX Sales resource can provide more information.
Today, software upgrades are part of your base cost. In the future, we expect there will be a menu of unique features available at a cost which a customer can select from in order to have access to specific capabilities.
iMFLUX experts can run mold simulations using either Moldflow or Moldex 3D software. Pricing for simulation support can be provided by your iMFLUX Sales resource.
iMFLUX offers several training sessions including a 4-day applied process development course, and also provides on-line tutorials for ongoing supplemental training. The American Injection Molding (AIM) Institute offers a 2-day introduction course, and a 4-day applied iMFLUX processing course. iMFLUX is working with several major plastics universities to add iMFLUX to their curriculum. Our team also provides remote and on-site support to assist our customers who are best positioned to maximize the value to their products.
Yes, the technology is covered by many patents, as well as extensive trade secret knowledge. While the technology is proprietary, purchasing an iMFLUX system includes a license to use the technology for any application of your choosing. Furthermore, iMFLUX is committed to making this new process available broadly to the entire industry by making it easy to install in your operation, easy to learn and adopt, and continually look for ways to make it even more affordable.
We encourage both our customers and partners to innovate on the iMFLUX platform as a way to enjoy the benefits of low-pressure molding while creating advantages unique to their machines, molds, or processes.
iMFLUX does not currently use independent distributors to sell but we have partnered with some of the world’s leading OEMs who are selling new injection molding machines with iMFLUX “Onboard”.
iMFLUX has been installed in more than 20 countries across four continents (North America, South America, Europe, and Asia). iMFLUX services our customers from our North American headquarters, and from satellite locations in Germany and China. Our pre-configured boxes, our partnerships with several of the leading OEMs, and Arms Reach remote collaboration capability continues to expand our team’s ability to integrate, install, and provide support to our customers anywhere in the world on demand.
iMFLUX is actively working with 20 of the world’s top OEMs to integrate, install, and leverage iMFLUX technology. We also have agreements with 3 global OEMs who are selling new machines with iMFLUX ”Onboard”.
iMFLUX is being used and/or tested in P&G’s Fabric Care, Home Care, Beauty, Health Care, and Grooming businesses, predominantly in NA and Western Europe. These businesses mold and/or source parts used in rigid packaging and devices through a network of injection molded suppliers. As we grow our footprint, we expect to expand to additional regions, suppliers, and businesses.
iMFLUX control systems have been installed on hundreds of IMMs across many customers in NA/LA and Western Europe. We now have systems operating in China and are beginning to explore options to expand in the region. We expect our installed base will continue to grow and we are committed to the long run success of iMFLUX and our customers.