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The tape stacking unit developed by ENGEL uses high-resolution camera technology to produce precise stacks from tape blanks.
The tape stacking unit developed by ENGEL uses high-resolution camera technology to produce precise stacks from tape blanks.

ENGEL will be presenting a broad range of technologies based on examples from the automotive industry, from the processing of organic sheets and unidirectional tapes to in-situ polymerisation, HP-RTM and flow moulding with SMC (Sheet Moulding Compounds) at JEC World 2019 from 12 to 14 March in Paris, France.

ENGEL organomelt in automotive high-volume production

In the ENGEL organomelt process, thermoplastic fibre composite prepregs such as organic sheets and unidirectional tapes are formed and functionalised.

For example, reinforcing ribs or assembly elements can be over-moulded immediately after thermoforming using a thermoplastic from the matrix material group. This not only enables a highly efficient and fully automated manufacturing process, but also contributes to the circular economy.

"The consistent thermoplastic approach facilitates subsequent component recycling," said Christian Wolfsberger, Business Development Manager Composite Technologies at ENGEL's headquarters in Schwertberg, Austria, explaining one of the reasons why ENGEL organomelt is seeing constantly rising demand.

In the USA, demanding structural components are already being mass-produced. Thanks to a high proportion of organic sheets, these components are characterized by particularly low weight and very good crash properties.

The new consolidation unit for processing unidirectional types can be easily integrated into the overall process, which significantly increases efficiency in the production of tailor-made tape solutions.ENGEL supplied a duo injection moulding machine, several easix articulated robots for preparing large quantities of metal inserts and handling the organic sheet, a viper linear robot and an ENGEL IR oven as an integrated systems solution for the automated high volume production.

ENGEL organomelt technology is suitable for both organic sheets and unidirectional glass and/or carbon fibre reinforced tapes with a thermoplastic matrix.

To increase efficiency, the fibre stacks can be laid and consolidated inline and in the injection moulding process cycle. ENGEL offers fully integrated system solutions from a single source here.

In addition to moulding machines, robots and IR ovens, pick-and-place tape stacking units with optical image processing from the in-house development and design department are used.

Together with its partner Fill (Gurten, Austria), ENGEL has recently expanded its range to include a consolidation unit for fibre stacks with different wall thicknesses.

In-situ polymerisation and injection moulding in a one-shot process

In the form of the v-duo, ENGEL has developed a machine series specifically for fibre composite applications.In-situ polymerisation of ε-Caprolactam into fibre-plastic composite support structures and their functionalisation in injection moulding is another thermoplastic composite technology which ENGEL has developed in collaboration with system partners.

In the ENGEL v-duo vertical machine, the reactive and injection moulding processes take place in parallel. Thanks to the low viscosity of the melted ε-Caprolactam, preformed, dry reinforcing textiles can be wetted particularly well, resulting in a highly resilient bond when polymerised to polyamide 6.

This is functionalised in a second cavity of the mould by over-moulding reinforcing ribs and contours made of fibre-reinforced PA 6.

The low operating height simplifies manual work. At the same time, the v-duo enables highly efficient automation solutions, thus accelerating the industrialisation of newly developed processing methods.

HP-RTM and SMC: More efficiency for duromer systems

At the fair, ENGEL will be using two examples from the field of lightweight thermoset design to demonstrate that production efficiency can still be improved – even for long-established technologies. One topic at the stand will be the CRP rear panels of the Audi A8.

These large-scale components with a complex carbon fibre structure and local reinforcements are produced by Voith in Garching, Germany, on an ENGEL v-duo 1700 machine using the fully automated HP-RTM process.

ENGEL will also be presenting gear carriers based on SMC. In a development project, ENGEL, together with the Institute for Polymer Product Engineering IPPE at Johannes Kepler University in Linz, Austria, as well as Hexcel (Stamford, CT, USA) and Alpex (Mils, Austria), have developed a new production process based on flow moulding for these dynamically highly stressed vehicle components.

From sophisticated visible and outer skin parts to structural components with integrated functionality, flow moulding with SMC is used for a wide range of fibre composite components.

In short cycles, complex geometries and paintable surface quality can be achieved. With its powerful measuring and control technology, flexible compression moulding process and integrated parallelism control, the ENGEL v-duo machine is predestined for SMC processing.

The processing parameters can be specifically adapted to the component requirements in order to achieve an even higher component quality.

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