DÜSSELDORF, GERMANY (Dec. 10, 4:45 p.m. EST) — Helmut Eckardt, a technical director of Battenfeld GmbH, described it as a factory engineer's dream: A fully automated machine that molds textile-decorative car parts and deposits them — fully trimmed and finished — ready for the assembly line.
Battenfeld made the dream real at K 2001 in Dusseldorf, showing a process called IMCmore. Running an HM press with 385 tons of clamping force, the company produced an automotive pillar cover, the long and thin trim part that fits between the two side windows of a car.
IMC stands for in-mold cutting. The technology enables processors to trim excess decorative textile material inside the mold, eliminating the need for hand-finishing.
“This is the first time you really have ready-to-assemble parts by back molding,” said Eckardt, technical director of low-pressure molding processes.
Battenfeld, based in Meinerzhagen, Germany, developed the technology in cooperation with Summerer Technologies, a company in Rimsting, Germany, that specializes in in-mold decorating, decor cutting technology, gas-assisted molding and two-component molding.
The first trimming happens outside of the mold. A laser pre-cuts the textile to the correct size. A Battenfeld Uni-Rob R15 robot then places it into the mold. When the mold closes, a special device clamps the textile in place. The multicomponent molding machine first injects polypropylene, which adheres to the textile. Next, a sealing lip made of a thermoplastic elastomer gets molded onto the part.
A special cutting mechanism inside the mold trims any excess material.
In other K news, Battenfeld showed its first injection presses with two platens instead of three. The press, a version of the HM, comes with tie bars that pull back when the mold opens, giving total access to the molding area for part removal.
In all-electric news, the company introduced a new, lower-priced version of its EM line of machines.
K also marked the first trade-show demonstration of its Aquamold process for water-assisted injection molding. K show visitors saw Aquamold in action at the booth of IKV, the Institut fur Kunststoffverarbeitung, a plastics school in Aachen, Germany.