Economical alternative to classic high-pressure processes
In 2013, KraussMaffei marketed the wetmolding process for the manufacture of fiber-reinforced plastic components, which it has subsequently continued to develop further. In the wetmolding process, a matrix material is applied in continuous strips to a flat-lying semi-finished fiber product and then pressed into shape in a mold. In comparison with known high-pressure processes (high-pressure resin transfer molding), the wetmolding process offers numerous advantages.
“The cycle time is shorter because wetting takes place outside of the mold, no preforming is necessary, and, in addition, recycled fibers can be used,” explains Sebastian Schmidhuber, Head of Reaction Process Machinery Development at KraussMaffei.
Automation of the individual processes offers further potential reduction of cycle times. At the Competence Forum, KraussMaffei will for the first time present a fully automated solution in live production.
“Thanks to the high degree of automation, the cycle times can again be considerably reduced. At the same time, process reliability increases,” Schmidhuber continues.
The wetmolding system in the KraussMaffei TechCenter will produce a basalt-fiber test sheet for the Competence Forum. A robot equipped with needle grippers picks up the fiber mats and feeds them to the application table, where a handling robot applies the polyurethane matrix using a mixing head (MK 10-2K-RTM) and flat sheet die. The gripping robot places the mats into the mold where the molding and curing process begins. The implemented MX mold carrier with a clamping force of 8,000 kN has corresponding interfaces for metering machines, with the option to process epoxy, polyurethane or polyamide. A RimStar 8/4 RTM metering machine with polyurethane matrix is also used.