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Composite processes in series production keep getting better

8 February 2019

At the upcoming JEC World 2019, to be held 12-14 March in Paris, France, plastics machinery and systems solutions provider Engel Austria (hall 5, stand Q65) will be presenting a broad range of technologies with a focus on the automotive industry.
One of the highlights on display will be the Engel organomelt process, in which thermoplastic fibre composite prepregs, such as organic sheets and unidirectional tapes, are formed and functionalized. The process makes it possible, for example, for reinforcing ribs or assembly elements to be overmoulded immediately after thermoforming using a thermoplastic from the matrix material group.
The process is currently gaining popularity, due to “the consistent thermoplastic approach” which “facilitates subsequent component recycling”, as Christian Wolfsberger, Business Development Manager Composite Technologies at ENGEL's headquarters in Schwertberg, Austria phrased it.
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 as well as in the injection moulding process cycle. The technology can be supplied as a fully integrated system solution, including injection moulding machines, robots and IR ovens, pick-and-place tape stacking units with optical image processing from the in-house development and design department. 
Engel will be showcasing another thermoplastic composite technology which it has developed in collaboration with system partners. An Engel v-duo machine will demonstrate the in-situ polymerisation of ε-Caprolactam into fibre-plastic composite support structures and their functionalisation in injection moulding in a one-shot process. In the 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. 
Featuring a compact design and low operating height, the v-duo series is available with and without an injection unit, specifically for fibre composite applications.
Another focus will be lightweight thermoset design, where the company will show that improvement is possible even when it comes to well-known, tried and tested technologies. The exhibits here will include gear carriers developed within the scope of a collaborative project with the Institute for Polymer Product Engineering IPPE at Johannes Kepler University in Linz, Austria, Hexcel (Stamford, CT, USA) and Alpex (Mils, Austria), produced using an innovative flow moulding process. The starting material is a flat carbon prepreg with fibre lengths of 50 mm and a matrix of epoxy resin. Analysis of the first components shows significant weight savings and improved component properties compared to the original aluminium component.