Engel Holding GmbH announced the creation of Engel Composite Systems at Fakuma, as well as rolling out its new customer portal called e-connect.
Engel already runs the Center for Lightweight Composites at its plant in St. Valentin, Austria, where the company makes large-tonnage machines. The location makes sense because big presses are used by the automotive sector, where structural composite parts give major weight savings.
While the Center for Lightweight Composites has proven out the use of fibre-reinforced plastics for new applications and continues to develop new technology, the Engel Composites Systems business will support customers in actual end-product planning and the production launch phase, covering all countries.
Matthias Mayr is the head of Engel Composite Systems.
Christoph Steger, Engel's chief sales officer, said the increased demand for integrated lightweight parts and systems requires a separation of the actual project work from development work.
"With this, we are ensuring that we can continue to advance with intensity and development of new production processes while also continuing to represent a wide range of technologies," Steger said.
The centre handles all composite technologies, including high-pressure resin transfer moulding (HP-RTM) and sheet moulding compound (SMC), as well as reactive technologies like in-situ polymerisation. The composites gurus at Engel also cover the processing of semi-finished thermoplastic products such as thermoplastic fabrics and tapes.
Engel also is announcing its new customer portal at Fakuma. Engel CEO Stefan Engleder said e-connect, which Engel introduced as a prototype at K 2016, will first go live in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
The portal simplifies and speeds up communication between processors and Engel while giving an overview of machinery, the processing status of service and support orders, and prices and availability of spare parts. E-connect also supports predictive, condition-based maintenance. Engel e-commerce also can monitor the condition of screws and spindles, he said.
Engel's Fakuma stand is packed with machines, including clearmelt technology, showing the first clearmelt exterior automotive component. For clearmelt, the base carrier gets injected moulded, then in a second mould cavity, it is coated with transparent polyurethane in a second cavity. The pre-finished parts do not need to be varnished or post-processed.
Officials said clearmelt gives a scratchproof part in a single step, as the polyurethane coating gives the high-gloss, scratchproof surface. Up until now, clearmelt's focus has been on decorative elements and electronic components for car interiors.
Any new application gets laboratory testing, but Engel said automotive exterior parts get even more: "Testing in a car wash has shown the initial sample parts to be very robust," the company said in a news release.
In the electronics sector, Engel is going all-electric at Fakuma, with a new larger size of the e-mac machine. An e-mac with 280 tonnes of clamping force is molding a connector housing for vehicle doors. The 40-pole connector housings are of glass-fiber-reinforced polybutylene terephthalate.
For the medical sector, Engel has paired its stainless-steel pipe distributor system, for cavity separation, together with it's a bag packaging cart as a single, fixed unit. That makes the portable unit extremely compact, Engel said.
In automation news, Engel has made its viper 20 robot even faster, able to do part removal times less than one second. That speed lets the robot run on cycles of around four seconds, making the viper 20 suited to packaging and medical applications.