Colorful diversity

Photo | Chris Clinton, gettyimages.com
Marginal Column
Photo | Weckerle

VarioFlow is distinguished by its savings on energy, cost and space. Located deep in the mechanism, it moves the pucks between workstations in the MM 360 production system as if by magic.

Thousands of lipsticks are produced every hour, all around the world. In the manufacturing lines built by Weckerle GmbH, the Rexroth VarioFlow chain conveyor system supplies input materials without interruption.

 

The first lipstick was presented by French perfumers at the 1883 World’s Fair in Amsterdam. The mixture of castor oil, beeswax and deer tallow was wrapped in tissue paper and was by no means an everyday item. Today, lipstick is the world’s most popular cosmetics product.

Variety built on ideas

In that era a red lipstick was sufficient, but women today can select from a huge spectrum of colors and consistencies. This variety demands flexibility in the production process. Cosmetics industry giants put their faith in the fully automatic systems, entirely modular in design, built by Weckerle GmbH in the Bavarian town of Weilheim. It was in the early 1970s that Weckerle unveiled the first fully automatic lipstick molding machine.

And with the development of the MM 360 production system in 2008, the company achieved yet another breakthrough. “Users can assemble the MM 360 to suit their needs exactly, since we offer all the workstations in modular form,” explains Jürgen Gross, head of engineering at Weckerle. Included among them are the units equipped with Rexroth servo drives: the filling device, tandem metering station with four different molding technologies and the interchangeable casting dies themselves – up to 360 in number, depending on the customer’s specifications. The processing spectrum for a complete line is wide and varied. It ranges from feeding and precisely metering the ingredients, supplying the lipstick’s mechanical parts, flaming the shaped stick for perfect gloss, labeling the tubes, quality inspection stations, and packing ready for shipping.

Gentle connections

The energy and space-saving Rexroth VarioFlow chain conveyor system makes for rapid and nonetheless gentle movement of the easily marred sticks between the individual workstations. The smooth-surface, interlocking chain moves the object carrier in the MM 360 at a speed of 25 meters per minute and ensures gentle transitions with almost no vibration. According to Jürgen Gross, the decision in favor of VarioFlow was based on the high tensile forces of 1,250 newtons in the chain and widths of up to 65 millimeters. “This is perfect for complying with the system’s performance specifications,” he explained.

To fit every need

The extensive “construction kit” makes it possible for Weckerle to use VarioFlow in all its latest-generation systems. At conveyor lengths of up to thirty meters, the Rexroth chain calculation program ensures that the conveyor line perfectly matches the production line. Weckerle customers around the world profit from this.