You have to look carefully if Lukas Ruckstuhl shows a box with sample parts. Owner and Managing Director of Prontoplast Spritzguss AG, Wetzikon, and his two-man team specialise in technical precision parts made from thermoplastic synthetics.
The sample parts are impressively small: Ruckstuhl describes shot weights of more than one gram as “parts of a certain size”, often they weigh less than 0.1 gram and their speciality lies in parts with a shot weight of less and 1 g and item weights less than 0.01 g. The tolerances here are ± 0.01 mm. The company’s website confidently states: “We accept your micro challenge.” And even if there is no definition for “micro parts”, the smallest synthetic parts from Prontoplast are certainly included.
The company’s owner formulates the challenges like this: “Contact us with an impossible task.” Does he not want things to be easy? “The more complex the parts which are to be produced, the more we enjoy doing it.”
The two ROBOSHOT α-S15iA have not been in operation long enough to be able to really assess the effects on the power bill: “It is however a factor which we happily take away”, say the boss. “Criteria like productivity and quality tipped the scales.” The two injection moulding machines work with a clamping force of 150 kN, whereby one ROBOSHOT is equipped with a 16 screw, the other with a 14 screw. Tanja Grimm, Head of Sales ROBOSHOT for FANUC in Switzerland: “Prontoplast was the first company in Switzerland to use this small ROBOSHOT. Other companies have already registered their interest.” Besides quality and productivity, the numerous equipment options and not least the low footprint (867 x 2499 mm) are among the advantages.
Everything the control can do
Lukas Ruckstuhl and Roman Kaufmann, who is responsible for quality management, have been in the business long enough to know that you can always implement optimally those things which are actually technically desirable. It is at exactly this point that the ROBOSHOT machines come into play and offer various benefits thanks to the numerous features and options. An example: Using the option “close later”, you can work in such a way that the mould only closes when it is almost vented. Even parts with very small noses, pins or shapes can be injected with accurate repetitions. “This is a great option. We have gotten a lot of out this”, agree the two quality-seekers. “In this way we can get the last two, three percent out of the machine.”
The “master plan” at Prontoplast includes a fully electric machine park. “We are now ready to obtain real practical experience”, says Ruckstuhl about the next step. “Now the two ROBOSHOTs must demonstrate what they can do. At any rate we now have new opportunities which we can offer our customers.” He is not under any time pressure here - and ultimately the investments also have to refinance themselves. “At the moment we are still at the ‘Juche phase’ and sounding out all the options.”
Before the corona crisis, the company boss was certain he was right about his anti-cyclical investment: “We are well prepared for the next swing and I am certain that we have made a good investment.” He does not fear competition from the Far East. It would also not be more beneficial to produce a ROBOSHOT in Malaysia if the know-how is lacking. Almost 100 customers worldwide speak an eloquent language, even if customers in the Far East are mostly subsidiaries of Swiss companies. The proximity of competition from the Far East obviously does not harm the injection moulding specialists from Wetzikon: “With the parts that we produce, we are well positioned among the competition.”