Network connectivity advances fluid dispensing control technologies

6 mins read

Nordson EFD currently offers two solutions for the Factory of the Future, the UltimusPlus with NX capability, and the 7197PCP-DIN-NX volumetric dispensing controller.

Both offer the efficiency, interoperability, speed, and validation necessary to implement a next-generation manufacturing operation, write Claude Bergeron, senior global product line manager of jetting systems at Nordson EFD, and Ahmed Khan, global product line manager for dispensers at Nordson EFD.

Advanced manufacturers using fluid dispensing technology understand that there is only one constant in the marketplace: change. Seldom is change easy, and smart organizations elect to be early adopters of production trends so that they can leverage the competitive advantage change offers — before the competition catches up. For many companies, embracing Smart Factory / Industry 4.0 integration represents such an opportunity, though the industry challenges are not trivial. Communication, data, coordination, and reporting are but a few of the hurdles that must be cleared.

Specifically, these challenges include:

  •     Lack of direct communication between equipment
  •     Inadequate data capture
  •     Lack of in-place troubleshooting
  •     Tedious programming processes
  •     No visibility to dispensing parameters

On a more granular level, the leadership team at your company may be assessing if your manufacturing process is ready to adopt remote fluid dispensing technology. Here is how to know if remotely accessible technology is right for you:

  •     Your organization is moving towards a Smart Factory / Industry 4.0 posture
  •     You need to maximize product utilization to meet MDR (Medical Device Reporting) regulations
  •     You want to improve process efficiency and lower production costs by maximizing remotely controlled settings
  •     Your company wants to establish open communication with centralized Programmable Logic Controller (PLC)
  •     Your team needs to establish a PLC-based setup control of dispensing parameters

With so much to gain, what automated dispensing systems can your organization use to obtain the benefits of a Transmission Control Protocol / Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) connected system?

The TCP/IP protocol is a set of rules and formats that governs the communication between devices on a network allowing for two or more devices to exchange data. Nordson EFD's NX protocol connects the dispensing equipment. The technology does this by linking the dispensing process controls - connecting the machine to the human machine interface (HMI).

To achieve this vision, Nordson EFD offers a TCP/IP v4 capable volumetric dispensing solution that enables users to set up and operate the dispense head from a PLC, personal computer, or tablet. That allows your operation to leverage centralized and remote programming. Both the UltimusPlus with NX capability and 7197PCP-DIN-NX solutions enable manufacturers to use the dispense parameter feedback to analyze and optimise the fluid dispensing operations at your facility.

The UltimusPlus web interface features the same interface as the dispenser. To obtain the IP address, an operator clicks on settings, opens the Ethernet tab, and obtains the address. Multiple units can be controlled through a centralized location i.e., computer, tablet, etc., and the interface allows you to make changes and monitor remotely. Manufacturers can also monitor UltimusPlus remotely, downloading and deleting the dispense log from distant locations. The technology can be used on computer, tablet, and mobile devices. Additionally, a remote time synchronizing functionality matches dispenser time to real time.

Elaborating further on the UltimusPlus FTP dispense log, the protocol is used to download the log when UltimusPlus is utilized in combination with the PLC. Operators can download but cannot delete the log through the File Transfer Protocol (FTP). For organizations developing their Industry 4.0 platform, Nordson EFD recommends the FileZilla client FTP. In a situation where the manufacturer is using their PLC, the client FTP can be used. The 7197PCP-DIN-NX provides a log, but it is not a dispense log and cannot be downloaded.

Nordson EFD’s 7197PCP-DIN-NX controller allows direct communication with a PLC or other manufacturing plant controllers using NX protocol over TCP/IP via Ethernet. This enabling technology allows users a more lean, efficient, productive, and versatile process as we prepare to enter the fourth industrial revolution.

How Can Your Process Benefit from Nordson EFD Smart Factory-Ready Technology?

Making smart capital equipment decisions is essential for implementing a strategic manufacturing plan. Naturally, manufacturers are interested in a strong return on investment from their technology investments. Simply put, the reason innovative advanced manufacturers are choosing Nordson EFD smart fluid dispensing and volumetric dispensing technology is because it offers the future-proofing capabilities they require. Your process can benefit from these innovative technologies if your organization is looking for ways to drive these goals:

  •     Speed: Save time by monitoring and updating multiple controllers remotely.
  •     Productivity: Maximize machine uptime to meet MDR (Medical Device Reporting) regulations.
  •     Profitability: Maximize remotely controlled settings to improve process efficiency and lower production costs.
  •     Flexibility: Control equipment directly from your PLC, PC, or tablet.
  •     Confidence: Make Your process Smart Factory / Industry 4.0-ready.

Medical device and electronics industry manufacturers share similar challenges: meeting stringent quality standards and high-volume manufacturing demands. Specific to the medical device manufacturing industry, operators must meet strict MDR regulations. Owing to the prohibitive cost of inferior quality plus strict industry regulations, manufacturers are turning to the UltimusPlus fluid dispensing solution to meet these manufacturing challenges. Some of the key applications for technology include applying reagents to diagnostic test strips, bonding medical device assemblies, bonding hearing aid and ear bud products, and wireless display bonding. In the case of diagnostic strip manufacturing, manufacturers find that the UltimusPlus solution’s strong reagent dispensing works well for this diagnostic strip manufacturing applications.

Now, with the technology’s ability to provide real time manufacturing data on a distributed communication platform, the UltimusPlus solution is Factory of the Future-ready. The solution is ready for integration into an automated, networked manufacturing facility.

Similarly, the 7197PCP-DIN-NX fluid dispensing solution has been selected by electronics and EV battery component assembly manufacturers because it helps them meet the dual (and sometimes disparate) challenges of manufacturing high quality products while meeting high throughput demands. The solution has shown tremendous potential in these applications: virtual reality (VR) goggle manufacturing (2K epoxy application), wireless display (2K bonding), and EV battery component assembly (Thermal Interface Material [TIM]). Moreover, the connected technology helps manufacturers use data-driven practices to optimise their operations. In this way, organizations can realize Industry 4.0 onboarding goals, while also meeting production challenges.

Case studies

A good example of the 7197PCP-DIN-NX fluid dispensing capabilities is a VR goggle manufacturing application. The manufacturer is using a two-part epoxy to bond materials in the VR goggle. The application is complex because it requires a fluid dispensing solution that can inject fluid into a space with very tight tolerances, in a highly repeatable way.

In addition, the goggle manufacturing process requires that the fluid dispensing solution apply a very thin bead of two-part epoxy to bond the VR lens components into place — and, as the lines are dispensed, the tabletop automation transition around the patterns at different speeds. To manage this, it is important to slow down and accelerate the motor rotation, enabling the manufacturer to maintain a consist bead and pattern geometry as the part is bonded. In addition, the fluid dispensing solution needed to offer remote dispensing control through a PLC.

EFD’s 7197PCP-DIN-NX controller was introduced to the team when they mentioned they were looking for a way to control their dispensing through a PLC. This network capable controller provides precise control of dispensing parameters for automated volumetric dispensing applications. It allows direct communication with a PLC or other manufacturing plant controllers using NX protocol via Ethernet for Smart Factory integration.

In addition, fabricating wireless displays presents a unique set of challenges. A common issue is that manufacturers must dispense a very thin line of two-component (2K) epoxy around the mobile device housing to bond and permanently secure sensitive components into place. In addition, the device must exhibit a perfect bond strength to pass rigid drop tests, ensuring that critical components do not loosen or break free with the device housing case.

The Nordson EFD 7197PCP-DIN-NX controller provides the precise fluid dispensing capabilities required by this high volume, quality-focused manufacturing application. The ability to easily network and integrate the solution into the wireless display manufacturing process makes the solution a comfortable fit into their production process. The remote networking capabilities help future proof the organization for additional shifts in the Factory of the Future manufacturing revolution, and the manufacturer can use the data to enable a continuous improvement process.

Finally, the paradigm shift to electric vehicles (EVs) has resulted in a huge upswing in EV battery manufacturing. As the electrification revolution moves forward, there are several challenges facing EV battery pack manufacturers. Namely, the challenge of heat dissipation looms large for battery producers. Because heat dissipation is a chief engineering concern for EV battery design, the fluid dispensing solution must be able to dispense thermal interface material (TIM) very accurately in the battery component assembly. Specifically, manufactures must apply beads of two-part TIM silicone fluid around electrical component housings. These components combine to serve as a form-in-place gasket, and a thermal heat conductor to dissipate heat from the assembly. Lastly, the fluid dispensing system needed to apply one- and two-part TIM material onto rectangular shaped laminated metal components installed in the EV battery bed.

Advanced manufacturers looking to improve direct communication between equipment, boost data capture, and gain the benefits of in-place troubleshooting are adopting a Smart Factory / Industry 4.0 integration path. In the fluid dispensing space, the means to do this is clear: UltimusPlus and the 7197PCP-DIN-NX solutions enable organizations to leverage the benefits of remotely accessible manufacturing, while also resolving the tedious programming processes and challenges to obtaining visibility to dispensing parameters. With so much to gain, it is clear how an automated fluid dispensing system can deliver the benefits of a TCP/IP connected system.

This article is an edited version of a Nordson EFD blog originally published on