Live: processing of thermoplastic fabrics by means of extreme thin-wall technologyIn the production of notebooks, tablets, smartphones and other hand-held devices, the use of innovative composite materials for housings is key to reducing weight and improving stability. Another aim of the development partnership between Engel Austria, Bond-Laminates of Brilon, Germany (a Lanxess Group company) and Leonhard Kurz (Fürth, Germany) is to bring about a significant enhancement in production efficiency. At the Bond-Laminates stand (hall 5A, stand J11), the three partner companies will showcase the revolutionary results of their collaboration: the injection moulding production of a highly robust, ready-to-use housing with a high-quality surface by means of extreme thin-wall technology. With a wall thickness of only 0.6 mm, the demonstration part reveals completely new possibilities.
This will be the first time an Engel machine has produced components live at JEC world. The highly automated production cell was specifically designed for the material combination of a thermoplastic, continuous fibre reinforced semi-finished part (Tepex) and IMD film developed and patented by Bond-Laminates and Leonhard Kurz. For the in-mould decoration of thermoplastic composite components in large-scale production, the system solution integrates three processing technologies: Engel organomelt for shaping and functionalising continuous-fibre-reinforced semi-finished thermoplastic products (thermoplastic fabrics) in the injection moulding process, Engel variomelt for optimising the surface quality via variothermal mould temperature control, and in-mould decoration (IMD) for the optical and functional refinement of the surface finish directly in the mould. The heart of the production cell is an Engel insert 500V/130 single injection moulding machine with a roll-to-roll IMD unit, an Engel easix six-axis robot, which takes over the entire handling of the semi-finished and finished parts, and an infrared oven which was also developed and built by Engel for preheating the thermoplastic fabrics.
"We can only achieve optimum levels in terms of part properties and production efficiency where all materials and system components are precisely coordinated to one another from the start," stresses Peter Egger, Director of the Engel Centre for Lightweight Composite Technologies. Even where machine manufacturers, material experts and other companies work together on process development, Engel customers can expect turnkey solutions from a single source. Engel takes overall responsibility in its capacity as general contractor, which accelerates project planning and commissioning in many cases.