FRANKFURT, GERMANY (Jan. 24, 11 a.m. ET) — Automotive roof system supplier Webasto AG in Stockdorf, Germany, is now operating three injection molding machines for polycarbonate glazing, and plans to add more.
At the IAA 2011 automotive industry fair in Frankfurt, Joachim Damasky, CTO and director for Global Comfort Systems told European Plastics News that a second KraussMaffei polycarbonate glazing injection molding machine was installed at its Schierling, Germany, plant in mid 2011, and was in operation prior to the IAA fair.
This means that Webasto is now running three glazing machines in Schierling. The first 2,700 metric ton machine from Battenfeld was installed in 2007, to mold the Smart ForTwo roof starting in 2008. The second 2,300 metric ton unit from KraussMaffei was added in 2009.
At the opening ceremony for the first KM machine in 2009, Webasto Chairman Franz-Josef Kortüm had said that the company was already considering investing in a third polycarbonate glazing machine in 2010.
Investment in the third line had been predicted by Kortüm after he said the company had taken eight new series production orders during 2009, resulting in Webasto reaching 90 percent utilization of its 160,000 roofs/year capacity and 60 percent of its siloxane wet-coating line capacity. There has therefore been a one-year delay on the original intention.
Looking ahead, Damarksy told European Plastics News at IAA 2011 that there are now plans to add a further one to two more polycarbonate glazing molding machines and that this would have to be supported with investment in a second coating line.
Planned introduction of polyurethane composite spray molding (PUR-CSM), as forecast by Kortüm at the 2009 opening event, started in 2011. Equipment from Hennecke was installed in Schierling to produce interior roof slides, Webasto vice-chairman and director for convertible, roof and body activities, Holger Engelmann told European Plastics News at IAA 2011.
A concept car shown on the Webasto stand demonstrated combination of a sliding polycarbonate roof with integration of a solar panel in a PUR-CSM roof. For IAA 2011, Webasto had achieved Class A surface quality on the PUR-CSM roof part, which is painted in body color.
But the company was still working with efforts to find a cost-effective means of preventing vapor emission from the PUR affecting the paint surface under production conditions, Damarsky said.
Following IAA 2011, Bayer MaterialScience also referred in October to the solar roof concept developed by Webasto. It pointed out that the complete roof module on the concept car weighs 20kg and made use of Bayer's Makrolon AG2677 grade of polycarbonate for the glazing panel part of the roof.