Engel, the Austrian molding powerhouse, feels it may have found a route to fast, efficient molding of composites.
In a recent technology demonstration in Europe, inserts for brake pedals were produced on an e-victory 310H/310V/120 combi injection molding machine using a unique process.
The first step is creation of a fiber form, which is then inserted into a mold by a multiple axis robot. It is then soaked with caprolactam using a newly developed, servo-electrically driven high-pressure RTM (resin transfer molding) injection unit. The caprolactam polymerizes to nylon 6 in the hot mold.
Engel developed the in situ polymerization technology with the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology (ICT), Pfinztal, Germany.
“Due to the extremely low viscosity of caprolactam, even the finest fiber filaments can be infiltrated without damage and tailored fibre structures can be integrated to reflect the load”, says Peter Egger, the head of the Technology Centre for Lightweight Composites at Engel Austria. “This development clearly points the way into the future of fiber composite lightweight construction.” Another developing partner is ZF in Friedrichshafen, Germany.