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The new, fully automated wet molding system substantially reduces cycle times and simultaneously increases process reliability.
The new, fully automated wet molding system substantially reduces cycle times and simultaneously increases process reliability.

KraussMaffei will be presenting cost-efficient solutions for manufacturing fiber-reinforced plastic components at JEC World to be held in Paris. The focus is on new processes and applications that are based on both thermoset and thermoplastic matrix materials.

Wet molding is fully automated for the first time

The market trend for fiber-reinforced plastics is still on a positive trajectory. Right now, there is significant interest in wet molding, which is a highly attractive, cost-efficient alternative to manufacturing lightweight components.

At JEC, KraussMaffei will debut the fully automated wet molding process. The distinguishing feature of the process is a simple process chain.

Low mold cavity pressures when wetting fibers ensure an affordable investment and upkeep of the systems as well as elimination of the entire preforming process. Wet molding is one of just a few processes that permit the use of recycled materials.

"It cuts cycle times in half compared to manual solutions and simultaneously increases process reliability," explains Philipp Zimmermann, Head of the Composites/Surfaces BU.

The iPul pultrusion system for continuous pultrusion
Pultruded profiles (flat or square profiles) and rebars for concrete feature high stability and corrosion resistance.
Another highlight from KraussMaffei is the iPul pultrusion system presentation. This is said as the first complete system for continuous pultrusion and has production speeds that are more than twice as fast as conventional tub processes.

"The new iPul system meets the needs of the modern age. Interest remains high, particularly for applications in the construction industry such as window profiles or rebars for concrete or in wind turbines. We are also increasingly getting requests from the automotive industry," says Zimmermann.

First-class surfaces for large components

LFI (long fiber injection) can be used to manufacture large components with excellent surfaces for trucks and agricultural machinery. The process permits the use of high fiber volumes of up to 50%.

This process produces lightweight components with high stability, and the high degree of automation ensures short cycle times. The low viscosity of the components makes it possible to manufacture large, complex, thin-walled parts. These applications feature high temperature stability and an excellent impact strength and already have paintable surfaces.

At JEC, KraussMaffei will present a side cover for customers' commercial vehicles.

A new spray mixing head ensures faster nozzle replacement

 The newly developed nozzle changing component from KraussMaffei allows the nozzle system on the spray mixing head to be replaced more efficiently.The newly developed KraussMaffei nozzle-changing component for the SCS mixing head boasts a critical advantage. Flat-fan and air-assisted circular jet nozzles that are required for spraying various sections of the component can be installed on a single mixing head and used in alternation.

"This doesn't just shorten cycle times. It also reduces investment costs because only one mixing head is required and the hydraulic switchover unit that had been used previously is no longer needed," explains Zimmermann.

Breakthrough for FiberForm in large-scale production
KraussMaffei has further refined the FiberForm process and prepared it for large-scale production.
The FiberForm process developed by KraussMaffei has been successfully established in large-scale production. The company is expanding and optimizing the automation solutions continuously. For example, the use of new matrix materials and natural fibers in composite sheets is currently being tested.

FiberForm is the thermoforming and over-molding of organic sheets, platen-shaped semifinished products with continuous fibers made of glass, carbon or aramide that, for example, are embedded into a thermoplastic matrix made out of polyamide (PA) or polypropylene (PP).

In this process, these semifinished products are initially heated and reshaped in the injection mold and then back-injected with a fiber-reinforced polymer. The fully automated process enables short cycle times of less than 60 seconds and, therefore, production processes that are ready for large series.

The entire production process, including infrared heating technology control for the composite sheet has been integrated in the MC6 machine control system. This simplifies operation.

JEC World will be held from March 6-8 in Paris. 

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