“The market trend for fibre reinforced plastics is still on a positive trajectory,” explains Philipp Zimmermann, Head of the Composites/Surfaces BU. “There is currently strong interest in China. Our five different RTM (resin transfer moulding) processes are the main source of demand in this region.”
At JEC, KraussMaffei is debuting a fully automated turnkey solution.
“It cuts cycle times in half compared to manual solutions and simultaneously increases process reliability,” says Zimmermann.
The KraussMaffei wet moulding process features a simple process chain. Low mould cavity pressures when wetting fibres ensure an affordable investment and upkeep of the systems as well as elimination of the preforming process. Wet moulding is one of a few processes that permits the use of recycled materials.
Another highlight of the KraussMaffei booth is the iPul pultrusion system presentation. This is said to be the first complete system for continuous pultrusion and has production speeds more than twice as fast as conventional tub processes.
“The new iPul system meets the needs of the modern age,” says Zimmermann. “Interest remains high, particularly for applications in the construction industry such as window profiles or rebars for concrete or in wind turbines. We are also increasingly getting requests from the automotive industry.”
KraussMaffei recently expanded its Lightweight Construction TechCentre in Munich, Germany, by installing a second iPul system for manufacturing pultruded rebars for concrete. Together with the iPul system for flat sections, KraussMaffei now offers its customers a unique research environment to develop and test new processes and applications in pultrusion.
Long fibre injection (LFI) can be used to manufacture large components with excellent surface finish for trucks and agricultural machinery.
“The long-fibre injection process permits the use of high fibre volumes of up to 50%,” reports Zimmermann. “This process produces lightweight components with high stability. The high degree of automation ensures short cycle times.”
It is possible to manufacture large, complex, thin-walled parts with high temperature stability, excellent impact strength and paintable surfaces. At JEC, KraussMaffei is presenting a side cover for commercial vehicles.
KraussMaffei has recently developed a nozzle-changing component for its structural component spraying (SCS) mixing head. Flat-fan and air-assisted circular jet nozzles that are required for spraying various sections of the component can be installed on a single mixing head and used in alternation.
“This doesn’t just shorten cycle times,” explains Zimmermann. “It also reduces investment costs because only one mixing head is required and the hydraulic switchover unit that had been used previously is no longer needed.”
In the SCS process, layers made up of fibre mats and honeycomb cores are sprayed with unreinforced PU, inserted into a mould and compression moulded. SCS permits outer layers with low thickness, so that the manufactured components are particularly lightweight. Flat-fan nozzles and air-assisted circular jet nozzles are available for the spraying process. Flat-fan nozzles produce a fan-like flat jet and are suited for large-format coating of the polyurethane mixture on relatively level, large-sized components. The air-assisted circular jet nozzles produce a finer spray and have a lower output capacity. They are used primarily for component areas with challenging geometry.
FiberForm for large-scale production
“The FiberForm process developed by KraussMaffei has been successfully established in large-scale production,” reports Stefan Fenske, FiberForm & IMC Technology Manager at KraussMaffei. “Our customers appreciate the high quality, reliability and cost-efficiency in the production of thermoplastic composites”
FiberForm allows the thermoforming and overmoulding of organic sheets, platen-shaped semi-finished products with continuous fibres made of glass, carbon or aramid that, for example, are embedded into a thermoplastic matrix made out of polyamide (PA) or polypropylene (PP). In this process, these semi-finished products are initially heated and reshaped in the injection mould and then back-injected with a fibre reinforced polymer. The fully automated process enables short cycle times of less than 60 seconds. The entire process, including infrared heating technology control for the composite sheet, has been integrated in the MC6 machine control system, simplifying operation.
“Lightweight, thermoplastic construction is an important business unit that is undergoing continuous development,” explains Dr Mesut Cetin, Product and Project Manager for Lightweight Construction at KraussMaffei Automation. “Therefore, we are expanding and optimising our automation solutions continuously so that we can offer our customers the best possible services. Standardisation allowed us to compile the findings on the infrared heating station from previous years.”
The use of new matrix materials and natural fibres in composite sheets is currently being tested. This offers significant potential for applications in the automotive industry (e.g. for door module carriers) and for other industries such as the sporting goods and packaging industries.
Visit KraussMaffei in Hall 6, Stand F61 at JEC World 2018.