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The Black Forest is famous for its wonderful scenery, fresh air and world-renowned cuckoo clocks – but it has also always been home to pioneering industrial expertise that measures up well on the global market. A prime example is Arburg GmbH, which is based in the climatic spa town of Lossburg in the heart of this natural wonderland. The family-run business is undisputedly one of the world’s most important manufacturers of plastics processing machinery. Its product portfolio includes all-rounder injection molding machines, robotic systems, customer- and sector-specific turnkey solutions, and other peripherals – not to mention the Freeformer system for industrial additive manufacturing. In order to highlight the key role it can play as an integral component of an Industry 4.0 process chain, Arburg is using HANNOVER MESSE 2017 to demonstrate the manufacturing process for a "smart luggage tag" spread across physically separated stations – with the Freeformer right at the heart.

The first stage of the process chain involves an all-rounder injection molding machine/space-saving robot cell combi adding an NFC chip to the newly molded part. Visitors then get to select an emblem for the luggage tag and create their own electronic visiting card (vCard). This order data is stored on the NFC chip for the downstream production processes. The customized component thus becomes an information and data carrier that identifies itself at the individual stations and controls its own manufacturing process from then on. During stage three, the special data and QR code from the vCard are added to the luggage tag using personalized laser labeling. Stage four sees a Freeformer customize the luggage tag even further by applying a two-tone 3D emblem after directly processing the order data from the NFC chip at the machine. At the fifth and final station, all the data from the NFC chip can be read and displayed. Besides the vCard, this includes a website URL for the product, which can retrieve the entire process and quality data from the injection molding process and additive manufacturing whenever required.