A research lab founded by Volkswagen to advance automotive use of large integrated composite components is getting a substantial addition—an Engel v-duo machine with 3,600 tons of clamping force.
The giant press is currently being built for the Open Hybrid LabFactory e.V. association in Wolfsburg, Germany at Engel’s large-scale machine plant in St. Valentin, Austria. The machine will support research into functionally integrated composite technologies. Engel is a founding member and sponsor of the research center initiated by Volkswagen in 2012 and supported by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The factory will be operated by the association and the Braunschweig University of Technology.
One of the targets of the new Engel machine is the ProVorPlus project that focuses on functionally integrated process technologies for the pre-assembly of fiber-reinforced plastic (FRP)/metal hybrids.
“One important precondition for successful FRP projects is that the materials, design and production process mesh in the best possible way. This can only work if enterprises bundle their expertise along the value chain,” says Peter Egger, director of the Engel Center for Lightweight Composite Technologies. “That belief underpins our commitment to the Open Hybrid LabFactory association.”
It won’t be the first v-duo 3600. Another in the same clamping force class is installed at BMW’s Landshut factory, where large structural components of fiber-reinforced plastic composites are manufactured using the HP-RTM process.
The ENGEL v-duo 3600 for Wolfsburg will be fitted with two injection units. In addition to multicomponent molding, lightweight construction solutions can be combined with further injection molding technologies.
The v-duo vertical series, which was developed specifically for fiber-reinforced processing, has a relatively small footprint. The height and weight of the machines are much lower than standard, reducing the building overhead requirements. The clamping unit can be accessed from all four sides instead of just two.
Engel says that the machines also feature very high rigidity and outstanding parallelism of the mold mounting platens. They operate with a servohydraulic ecodrive as standard as opposed to a hydraulic accumulator for improved energy efficiency.
The Open Hybrid Lab Factory includes a 799 m2 laboratory, a 2,500 m2 technical center, and 4,692 m2 of office space. Other research participants include the Fraunhofer Institute, Magna, BASF, DowAkza , Thyssen-Krupp, and Siempelkamp, which is building a unique press (not injection) that will have four cylinders with a pressing capacity of 625 metric tons each, allowing press speeds of up to 800 mm/second. Accuracies in the ± 0.05 mm range can be achieved, according to Siempelkamp.
Heading up the research at the lab is Werner Neubauer, who is responsible for components at Volkswagen.
A v-duo 3600 machine is currently being built for the Open Hybrid LabFactory e.V. association in Wolfsbur, Germany. (Engel)