Engel takes integrated production of composite components a step further

  polymer & packaging news agency -

There are two factors propelling the use of thermoplastic composites in automotive applications, says Norbert Müller, head of Engel’s Center for Lightweight Composite Technologies.


First, a consistent thermoplastic approach makes it possible to efficiently integrate the forming and functionalization of fiber-reinforced prepregs, which reduces unit costs; second, the use of exclusively thermoplastic polymers makes it easier to develop recycling strategies.


To meet these needs, Engel developed the organomelt process, in which fiber-reinforced prepregs with a thermoplastic matrix such as organic sheets and tapes are heated, inserted into the mold, formed there and directly overmulded with thermoplastic. This has since become a well-known process, used in high-volume manufacturing for the fully automated production of items such as front end carriers.


Now, Engel is collaborating with its customers and partners on the production aspects of designing composite components with a targeted load distribution. At the upcoming K show, a molding process developed in partnership with automotive supplier Brose, will be demonstrated. A production cell will show how different prepregs can be combined to tailor the lightweight construction characteristics to a component’s specific shape as well as the different stresses on individual areas inside the component, said Müller. 


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