The booth demonstration will include technology under development in Europe for the past two years by an industry consortium headed by the Georg Kaufmann Tech-Center AG (GK-Tech-Center, Busslingen, Switzerland). The project is called LIPA, or “Lightweight Integrated Process Application” and its primary goal is to develop and validate the manufacturing process for large-scale production of composites. The key to boosting the output rate of the process is to improve process control and process automation.
In the Arburg demonstration, a side feeder will incorporate fibers into a liquid plastic melt using long-fiber direct injection molding The advantages of this process are said to include flexibly adjustable fiber lengths of up to 50 mm, a low incidence of fiber damage in the plastic melt and cost advantages compared to fiber-reinforced pellets.
The process will be demonstrated on a hydraulic Allrounder 820 S, operating with a mold from Georg Kaufmann Formenbau. Continuous-fiber reinforced thermoplastic inserts (called “organic sheets” in Europe) are overmolded, creating composite parts that weigh less than 200 g at a length exceeding 500 mm. A six-axis robotic system picks up two organic sheets of different thicknesses from a magazine.
The flat inserts are slightly heated, using a new technology in the gripper system and transferred to a LIPA mold at a specific forming temperature. Here, forming of the inserts and injection molding of the functional and reinforcement elements are performed simultaneously in a cycle time of around 55 s.