Automotive: economic processing of premium woodsPremium woods in the automobile interior purvey well-being and a touch of luxury. In collaboration with HIB Trim Part Solutions in Bruchsal, Germany – an NBHX Trim GmbH subsidiary – and other partners, Engel has developed a process for economical manufacturing of decor elements with genuine wood veneers. Using the Engel clearmelt method, the veneers are back-injected with a thermoplastic in a single step and coated with transparent polyurethane to protect the surface. The method was introduced in 2009, and now the first serial application is imminent. Before the first manufacturing cell designed for production use is commissioned at HIB Trim Part Solutions, it will be producing premium wood decor elements in a 2-cavity mould at Fakuma.
The core of the manufacturing cell is an Engel duo 3550/650 combi M injection moulding machine with a rotary platen that supports high-volume production with short cycle times and maximum productivity. On one side of the mould, the wood veneers are back-injected with PC/ABS, while at the same time on the other side, the base elements produced immediately prior to this are flooded with PUR. Engel's system partner for the PUR technology is Hennecke in St. Augustin, Germany. To be able to manage the entire polyurethane process via the display on the injection moulding machine, Engel has fully integrated the Hennecke solution into the CC300 machine control unit.
Advances in terms of materials also help to improve the productivity of the Engel clearmelt method. The polyurethane used at Fakuma already includes a separating agent, thus saving an entire step. So far, cavity surfaces needed to be sprayed with separating agent before processing PUR.
The production cell is highly automated. An Engel easix console robot is located above the clamping unit on the injection moulding machine; it both insert places the wood veneers and removes and discharges the finished parts. This is the first time that Engel is presenting its new large-scale Engel easix robot at a trade fair. Thanks to cooperation with Kuka robots – headquartered in Augsburg, Germany – Engel is now in a position to automate its largest injection moulding machines with clamping forces of up to 5,500 tonnes throughout with multi-axis robots.
Just like with the smaller Engel easix designs, and the linear robots of the Engel viper model range, the large multi-axis robots are also integrated into the CC300 control unit of the Engel injection moulding machines. Plastics processors benefit from consistent control logic for the injection moulding machine and thes automation solution as well as improved machine availability as the setup technician can now complete many tasks for which a programmer was needed in legacy systems. Because the injection moulding machine and robot access the same database, they automatically coordinate their motion sequences and control circuits to achieve maximum overall efficiency. In many applications, this contributes towards shorter overall cycle times.
Other partners for this trade fair presentation are Schöfer from Schwertberg, Austria, and Votteler from Korntal-Münchingen, Germany.