Thousands of plastics parts two measurement systems

MGS - Ireland

MSG engineer using CMM

On entering the Liffey Park Technology Campus in Leixlip, County Kildare we stand less than one mile away from the original (circa 1759) brewing location for the most famous of Irish exports – GUINNESS. Over 250 years later the site is now home to several hi-tech companies including the Ireland Headquarters of Hewlett-Packard (HP).

Deep within the walls of the vast HP campus is the brand new MGS injection moulding facility. The moulded parts produced at MGS are used across multiple industries, including consumer goods, electronics, automotive, and medical, hence the need for quality assurance with co-ordinate measuring systems from Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence.

MGS is a contract injection moulding company headquartered in America; this new facility in Ireland is a first for MGS in mainland Europe. Across the world, MGS builds mould tools, secondary shot systems, and mass manufactures plastic moulded parts. The day-to-day business in the Irish facility is parts manufacture and mould tool repairs.

James Faughnan, Quality Manager, MGS Manufacturing Group Ltd, explains why they needed accurate inspection facilities: “During moulding, it is essential to use dimensional data to indicate how stable our process is. Today, we are taking several samples from our moulding machines every 12 hours and analyzing key dimensions to ensure consistency."

MGS engineers discuss the measurement details of a printer component
MGS engineers discuss the measurement details of a printer component. 


One of the many injection moulding machines at MGS Ireland
 One of the many injection moulding machines at MGS Ireland.


Born in the USA

Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence’s involvement takes place well before the moulding of the first plastic parts. At the mould tool manufacturing facilities in the USA Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence co-ordinate measuring machines (CMMs) are used to verify the highly accurate mould tool production. Another critical part of the process is during the proving out of a newly installed mould tool which requires a full first article inspection. Since MGS are using Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence systems across their facilities it leads to an easy transfer of mould tools packages, including CMM fixtures and programs.

MGS in Ireland are currently using two Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence systems which give them a full range of contact and non-contact measuring capability. Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence is represented in Ireland by Inspection Equipment Ltd., they offer both sales and application advice. Inspection Equipment looked at the inspection requirements of MGS which led to recommending both a DEA GLOBAL 7.7.5 Classic CMM and an Optiv Classic 4.5.3 multi-sensor system.


Each with its own advantages

Whilst both systems offer touch trigger probing, each system has its advantages: “There are many parts with features which a standard CMM just cannot reach, this is where the vision system comes into its own, equally the CMM is useful beyond normal part measurement – we also use it for trouble shooting problems with our moulds,” explains James.

Simple, intuitive software

Another advantage of having the two systems from one supplier is that they are both running PC-DMIS measurement software. In many cases, it is simple to switch a program from one system to the other, and the programmers only have to learn one package. PC-DMIS CAD allows MGS to program inspection routines using step models from their customers. This allows for intuitive reporting and also offers the capability to create an inspection program before a part has even been shot.

Measurement data from PC-DMIS is being automatically fed into an SPC package for Cpk analysis, all data is stored to allow full traceability for MGS and their customers. Part programs and fixtures are constructed to make it easy for the injection moulding machine operators to inspect their own parts. MGS are moulding 24/7. So the clear instructions and photographs provided in the PC-DMIS part programs make it simple for operators to correctly load and measure their components.

The vision sensor on the Optiv Classic 4.5.3 is able to measure features hard to see with the naked eye. 

Genuine customer care

James discusses the level of service he receives: “The service we obtain is fantastic, whenever we have had an issue or a question the teams at Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence and Inspection Equipment have been on hand for a quick response.”

Today MGS Ireland is mostly producing plastic parts for their landlord, Hewlett-Packard, but the expansion plan is well advanced. Ireland is well known for its pharmaceutical industry. Therefore, the introduction of a clean room facility at MGS will enable the manufacture of medical-grade parts for which MGS are currently tendering to several potential customers. The metrology equipment is a key component to obtaining business in this highly demanding sector.

The metrology equipment installed at MGS assures them and their customers that the parts they produce and the processes used to produce them are viable. James sums up: “Thanks to the measurement solutions from Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence we have the confidence to continue to grow our business, especially in the Irish medical market.”

Plastic components from a printer head are loaded to a multi-stage fixture on the coordinate measuring machine
Plastic components from a printer head are loaded to a multi-stage
fixture on the coordinate measuring machine. 

Did you know?

The first man-made commercial plastic was invented in Britain in 1861 by Alexander Parkes. He publicly demonstrated it at the 1862 International Exhibition in London, calling the material he produced 'Parkesine'. Derived from cellulose, Parkesine could be heated, molded, and retain its shape when cooled. It was, however, expensive to produce, prone to cracking, and highly flammable.

The mutli-sensor inspection centre at MGS Ireland.

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