The first major production applications of Engel’s thermoplastic fabric technology (called organomelt) in the automotive industry will be launched soon.
Engel did not disclose the applications or customers (identified as well-known Tier Twos), but did provide technical details showing the extent of integration involved in complex new composites projects.
Organomelt refers to continuous-fiber-reinforced thermoplastic semi-finished products developed at Engel’s Center for Lightweight Composites Technology. In one of the applications, several metal inserts are directly overmolded using thermoplastic fabric with wall thicknesses of only 0.5 to 0.6 mm. A vertical IR oven located directly above the clamping unit of the injection-molding machine was developed for rapid processing. The Engel-developed units can be monitored and controlled from the machine control.
Engel says that thermoplastic tapes reinforced with glass or carbon fiber are rising in demand with layups consisting of up to 20 tape layers. Usually tapes are only 0.14 to 0.3 mm thick. Engel has designed its own system for building layups directly upstream of the injection-molding process. Based on the pick-and-place principle, it works in sync with the injection molding process.
The resin system was not identified, although polyamide is often used.