No. 1: Development of reinforced laminate sheets that can be used as structural components was a great technical innovation on display at K 2010. At the heart of the technology is a German thermoplastic composites company called Bond-Laminates that was spun off from DuPont in 1997. Its Tepex composites can be made from seven different polymers and three different types of fiber.
In demonstrations at the Engel and KraussMaffei booths, a polyamide (PA) thermoplastic resin was injected onto and around sheets made of glass fiber or carbon fiber. Both demonstrations were highly automated and novel.
In the KraussMaffei demonstration, sheet from Bond-Laminates was formed in the mold and then encapsulated using a glass-fiber-reinforced polyamide from Lanxess. A KraussMaffei 300-ton injection molding compounder, based on the company’s CX series, was used to compound the encapsulating layer, mixing the different length fibers into the polyamide in a one-stage process immediately prior to injection.
The development project was coordinated by Jacob Composite GmbH under the auspices of the Project Management Agency Karlsruhe, a government agency. Other partners were Audi and the Institut für Verbundwerkstoffe GmbH.
Engel produced a steering column made of “organic” sheet and polyamide in a complete manufacturing cell featuring three robots. Partners included Siebenwurst/Germany for mold making.