Hands-on experience of technology – careers guidance made easy
The 75-metre high Phänomenta Tower is an impressive landmark for the town of Lüdenscheid. The technology service centre “Technikzentrum Südwestfalen”, which is located in Lüdenscheid, can now reproduce this symbolic structure as often as it wishes in the miniaturised form of a USB stick, an LED light object or a figure for a board game. With the completion of what had been an exciting project with trainees and schoolchildren, running since spring 2016, the centre has now become the owner of a matching injection mould which it can use to manufacture this appealing plastic article itself.
In making this project a reality, trainees from the HASCO and Kostal companies and the KIMW Plastics Institute and BKT Technical College worked closely together as sponsors and implementers. The basic idea of manufacturing the tower arose at the technology service centre from work done by pupils attending a secondary-school class specialising in technology at the “Stadtpark Hauptschule” in Lüdenscheid. The tower as an article was developed using the CAD resources of the product designers at the BKT Technical College in Lüdenscheid and photo-realistic engineering. The data created in this way was used as an input for designing the CAD mould and for deriving CAM programs for producing the shape.
From the trainees’ perspective, what was at stake in this exciting project was to successfully overcome a number of awkward challenges. Considerable mental juggling and implementation work was called for, in particular in designing the injection mould and how to demould the injected part. The idea in the end was to have just one mould for producing three products. Months were spent on painstaking trials, calculations, milling and erosion in liaison with the other project participants.
Applying the motto of “the journey is its own reward”, the HASCO trainees were able to put what they had learnt previously to good use and demonstrate their skills using HASCO's proven standard components. The basis for the mould under development was the HASCO K 3500 /... quick-change mould system, which is used first and foremost for the low-cost manufacture of samples, prototypes and small series production under realistic conditions. That fitted in excellently with the requirements specified for the mould.
Quite apart from the quick-change mould system in combination with the mould inserts based on the HASCO modular system, there were other components needing to be integrated. One of them, for example, was the A5805/... mould memory. In that way, all the mould and/or article-specific data is reliably archived and it is possible to have access to complete documentation throughout the production processes. In addition to that, HASCO’s A 5710 /... digital cycle counter was deployed for the additional monitoring of process data.
What was important for the project as a whole was that all the participants worked together efficiently in the team, ensuring, for example, the close liaison between HASCO with the responsibility for working on the mould unit and Kostal with responsibility for implementing the 3D contour in the mould inserts.
The project has now been brought to its conclusion, and the completed mould has been successfully commissioned. Thanks to the initiative and commitment of the Lüdenscheid companies and colleges as well as the KIMW Plastics Institute, there has been a further enhancement of the attractiveness of what the technology service centre has to offer. Students deciding on which career to pursue now have the possibility of obtaining detailed information about the individual working steps involved in mould and toolmaking all the way through to the production of a finished plastic article. They can roll up their sleeves and try things out for themselves or simply marvel at the technology.
For all those involved, the project was an excellent opportunity to present their own skills and capabilities and to deliver proof of their talent.
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