High pressure casting: more than 220 AVM sold by Sacmi in 16 years


With the recent delivery to a leading European manufacturer, Sacmi has now sold 220 AVM high pressure casting units since 2002, when the company developed the first prototype of a technology that would go on to become the ceramic sanitaryware industry benchmark. What makes this single-mould unit for the manufacture of stick-on rim WCs so effective is its mould-centred design, which ensures maximum flexibility of use and better mould pool management by the customer.

Generally consisting of a main press (which manufactures the bowl in a 4 or 5-part press) and a rim-making press, the AVM is available in several different versions, developed to allow the manufacture of WCs with non-traditional characteristics and morphology. Moving on from classic stick-on rim WCs, there's also a special 3-press AVM version that can cast shrouded siphon jet WCs. The same version can also produce accessories such as water traps and reinforcement battens. Another version, instead with bigger rid press dimension and longer cylinder stroke, allows the manufacture of one-piece WCs with the aid of the Sacmi-patented Isobox containment solution.

Modular configurations

The extensive range of products able to be produced, together with the longevity and interchangeability of the moulds, make the AVM an ideal solution for both industrial groups (which can optimally manage installations internationally at different automation levels), and for small and medium-size firms thanks to its quality, reliability and performance. Customers can configure the AVM modularly to get the best possible balance between flexibility, productivity and automation. This means each casting module, made up of one or more machines, a robot and accessory parts, can be sized according to productivity and the degree of flexibility and automation required by the customer.

In this way, a single robot can serve up to 4 AVMs in parallel, with the robot being assigned the sole tasks of glue distribution and de-moulding.

Alternatively (and this is the most common solution) two AVMs are combined with one robot, a configuration that allows automation of all product handling and transfer to the pre-dryer.

Piece drying is a vital and delicate stage of sanitaryware manufacture, and the launch of the Sacmi FPV pre-dryer has revolutionised it: the latter, in fact, ensures pieces leaving the casting module are already hard enough to be deposited on carriages, yielding additional advantages in terms of process repeatability and energy savings. So far, over 90 Sacmi casting machines have been supplied together with the new FPV pre-dryer (designed and launched in 2010).

Another AVM configuration, the one-robot-per-module set-up, means the robot can be assigned the bulk of the finishing tasks (fettling, sponging etc.), thus minimising the need for manual work. Quality of work and workplace safety (even with the two 2 AVMs-per-robot configuration the worker does no direct WC lifting or handling) go hand-in-glove with better process quality and repeatability, made possible by 3D simulation of module and robot activity.

The challenge is to align the casting module cycle time (20-25 minutes) with the time the robot takes to execute all the piece handling tasks and pre-identify any problem areas. To achieve this, Sacmi has developed new software for assessment and optimisation of the work cycle of the casting module installed in the new pilot plant at the Sanitaryware Lab. This solution allows accurate investigation and optimisation of all the robot tasks by comparing the cycle times of all the employed resources (machine, robot, worker).

Total automation

For companies that go for total automation, further devices for automatic on-car piece loading, executed via the robot serving the casting presses, are available. To maximise on-car piece density, load configurations can be selected according to the type of articles being manufactured. Analogously, all in-plant piece conveying - from casting module to dryer and on to glazing station and kiln - can be fully controlled by laser guided vehicles (LGV).

A key benefit of the Sacmi solution is that low added-value manual tasks can be eliminated step by step with successive investments, as each component of the casting module is perfectly compatible with the downstream handling solutions.

Just as importantly, the new AVM machines allow for the introduction of automatic inserts in the mould, making it easier to produce a whole range of articles, modern rimless WCs included.