CT technology as competitive advantage in the plastics industry

Klein Kunststofftechnik

Demand for plastic components is growing in many end-user industries, such as automotive, packaging, electronics, and medical. At the same time, the need for more sustainable production and minimization of scrap is increasing. Future technologies such as industrial computed tomography are helping companies to meet the emerging challenges. Klein Kunststofftechnik, a medium-sized company, also relies on computer tomography for initial sampling and production monitoring produced plastic parts. This puts the company one step ahead of its market competitors and customers - often much larger companies.

"It's almost a tradition for us to introduce technologies before others do," Michael Klein tells us, visibly proud. The managing director of Klein Kunststofftechnik is one of the three founders of the family business, along with his father Josef and his brother Walter Klein. In 1982, the brothers took over responsibility for the business - a difficult time, as Michael Klein reports, but also one that the company overcame through courage and foresight. "For example, we used PCs and the Internet early on, making work easier for ourselves and our customers - when others were still relying on pencils, letters and fax machines."

Today, the company's quality assurance department houses an industrial computer tomograph (CT) - the ZEISS METROTOM 1. "Here again, we are several years ahead of other companies of a similar size," the managing director is pleased to say. The entry-level CT model is compact, user-friendly, low-maintenance and offers an attractive price/performance ratio - and thus proved to be the optimal option for Klein Kunststofftechnik. The compact ZEISS solution consisting of hardware and software offers an end-to-end workflow for the reliable inspection of plastic parts.

Multi-layered applicatios require flexibility

Since 1965, Klein Kunststofftechnik GmbH in Dettenheim, Baden-Württemberg, has been producing plastic parts for a broad set of industries such as electronics and sensor industry, mechanical engineering and the automotive industry. In addition to injection molding, Klein Kunststofftechnik finishes the plastic parts, for example by mechanical processing, printing, hot foil stamping, mechanical processing or EMC coating. Increasingly, assemblies are also in demand instead of individual components, and the company makes this possible as well. The company also manufactures its own injection molding tools.

With a total of 35 employees, Klein Kunststofftechnik produces more than 40 million plastic parts per year for companies many times larger, up to and including global corporations. "We don't even have the goal of growing in terms of personnel," says Michael Klein. "We create everything our customers need with our size, and thus retain a flexibility that larger companies often no longer have." On the other hand, the company has great ambitions when it comes to quality.

New requirements - new measurement technology

The company Klein Kunststofftechnik have had measuring devices from ZEISS for many years, including a ZEISS DuraMax production measuring device in mold making. But many customers now require CT scans, especially for initial sampling. For small manufacturing companies, new requirements continue to emerge such as a GPS (Geometric Product Specification) dimensioning according to the ISO GPS standard system.

The CT system from ZEISS meets these requirements: The attractive price/performance ratio made the purchase possible and offers clear advantages: "A CT scans a part much faster than conventional measuring devices and records a disproportionately higher number of data points," explains Dennis König, an employee in quality assurance at Klein Kunststofftechnik. "We already had experience with this because we commissioned CT scans from outside for some tasks. And when we heard about the ZEISS METROTOM 1, we decided: From now on, we'll do it ourselves."

Compact dimensions and user-friendly software

Another factor in favor of the decision was that the ZEISS METROTOM 1 can be installed and operated in the quality lab without any problems, given its compact dimensions (1,750 x 1,820 x 870 mm width, height and depth) and a comparatively low weight of 2,100 kilograms. "Our rooms are not exactly lavishly dimensioned in line with the size of our company, so that was already an important factor," says Dennis König. The low maintenance requirements also made the CT attractive: The closed tube of the ZEISS METROTOM 1 only needs to be serviced once a year with minimal effort.

Last but not least, the software was also a decisive factor for the purchase: the ZEISS METROTOM 1 is equipped with the GOM Volume Inspect analysis software, which is optimally matched to the hardware. "We are familiar with various software solutions for analysis and evaluation, and GOM Volume Inspect, or software from ZEISS in general, is always at the top in terms of user-friendliness," reports the quality assurance employee. "The operation is intuitive, you have all the functions you need, including trend analysis and part-to-part comparison. And the color-coded display of the results provides quick information - simply excellent."

Complete insights as a competitive advantage

Today, Klein Kunststofftechnik uses the ZEISS METROTOM 1 for production monitoring as well as for initial sampling. "The advantages are clearly noticeable: the first evaluation of a part takes a little longer due to the large amount of data, but from then on you just scan quickly for a comparison. This has already saved us an inestimable amount of time over the course of the last year," says Dennis König.

Managing Director Michael Klein is also highly satisfied: "Of course, a CT is an investment, especially for a company of our size - but this saves us the costs of external commissioning and additionally gives us completely new possibilities in quality assurance." Jokingly, he adds: "Whereas we now see almost a bit too much, with X-ray technology nothing remains hidden, and where we and our customers have so far said that this already fits, we now have to react and become even better. But that just gives us another bit of an edge over our market competitors."

Klein Kunststofftechnik intends to make the most of this head start, because Michael Klein is certain that "sooner or later, most people will probably follow suit when it comes to CT - the advantages are simply too great. And with entry-level models such as the ZEISS METROTOM 1, which is attractively priced, low-maintenance and offers unrestricted premium quality from ZEISS, the hurdles to using this technology are lower than ever before."

About Klein Kunststofftechnik

The family owned company processes plastic parts for the Automotive wood, electronics and sensor industries. Klein Kunststofftechnik provides solutions from initial inspection, process monitoring up to final control.

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