On its K 2016 stand, in addition to the new injection units on Victory and Duo hydraulic machines already mentioned, Engel is showing a range of new technologies.
The DecoJect process for automotive interior surfaces combines injection molding with in-mold graining in a roll-to-roll process. Unlike conventional in-mold decoration, in which the paint is transferred from the film onto the component, in DecoJect the film is punched out and stays on the component. This allows surface structure to be achieved in addition to color and pattern.
On a Duo 5160/1000 machine Engel is molding sample parts simulating large door panels, which have different surface structures, including a leather grain. The DecoJect thin film is drawn into the mold, heated by an IR radiator located in the gripper and preformed directly in the mold with the aid of a vacuum system. The film is then back-molded and punched out. The component is transferred to an integrated laser station for fine trimming. A ready-to-fit component leaves the production cell every 60 seconds, said Engel.
In the embryonic market for thermoplastic composites Engel is showing two developments in which it combines injection molding techniques with composites.
A process that involves in-situ polymerization — still at the development stage — is used in the production of fiber-reinforced shovels on a V-Duo 1560/700 machine. The group sees potential for applications in the automotive market and in technical molding.
The clamping unit of the V-Duo 1560/700 machine is equipped with a sliding table fitted with two mold halves for optimal accessibility. The process starts with preformed, dry reinforcement textiles being placed in the first cavity and infiltrated with the caprolactam reactive matrix. The caprolactam, which is supplied in powder form, is melted and metered in the reactive aggregate.
The composite semifinished part is then transferred to the second cavity immediately after it is produced, for the overmolding stage. For the demonstrator shovel, reinforcing ribs and contours made of short-glass-fiber-reinforced nylon 6 are molded onto the part. Polymerization and injection molding take place parallel to each other, said Engel.
Another thermoplastics composites application is a 0.6 mm thick demonstrator housing for smartphones and tablets. In the project involving Engel, Leonhard Kurz and Lanxess subsidiary Bond-Laminates, the latter's Tepex continuous fiber reinforced composite sheets are used in combination with an IMD process for optical and functional surface finishing directly in the mold.
The production cell has a vertical Engel Insert 500V/130 injection molding machine with a roll-to-roll IMD unit, an Engel Easix six-axis robot for handling of the semifinished and finished parts, and an infrared (IR) oven for preheating the thermoplastic fabrics.
The IR oven was developed by Engel. At K 2016, Engel is presenting the IR ovens in five sizes available with a heating surface up to 1,110 x 1,610 mm, which makes it possible to process large semifinished products such as for complete door modules or front ends for the automotive industry.
An innovative product in the medical arena is the 1-K interdental brush with up to 500 bristles, which Pheneo in Bremen, Germany, is producing. The brush's production process is “a world first,” according to Engel. Up to 500 bristles can be molded directly in single-component injection molding together with the core and the grip.
The clean room version of an all-electric E-motion 170/100 T machine is being used to process a three-component compound. The high-performance precision mold with eight cavities is extremely delicate in the bristle area.
Engel said: “The new technology from the system partners Engel, Hack and Hekuma makes it possible for the first time to produce brushes with such small cores and numerous fine bristles using single-component injection molding. The compound also makes an important contribution. The length of the glass fiber is selected so that the fibers provide stability for the grip and core but do not penetrate the very delicate bristle areas.”
Engel is demonstrating injection molding of liquid silicone rubber, producing pressure reservoir diaphragms used in pressure compensation vessels. It is producing these two-component parts of PBT and LSR on a Victory 200H/200L/160 combi machine with integrated Viper 40 linear robot. The mold and the LSR metering pumps come from Elmet.
Injection blow molding is being upscaled to 96 cavities in a demonstration from Engel, using a cube mold from Foboha of Haslach, Germany, and partnering with Alpla Werke of Hard, Austria. Polypropylene containers are being produced on an all-electric E-motion 740/220 T WP machine in an eight-cavity cube mold built as a proof-of-principle prototype. The containers were developed by Alpla for a customer in Asia.