Warren, Mich. — Toolmaker and processor Proper Group International Inc. is continuing to advance the use of lightweight automotive components through its partnership with German machinery maker Krauss-Maffei Corp.
At a Sept. 25 technology event, the two companies showed off an injection molding work cell using Krauss-Maffei's FiberForm process, which combines the thermoforming of composite sheets and injection molding in one step, resulting in fiber-reinforced plastic components that are lightweight yet maintain a high level of strength.
Throughout the event, Krauss-Maffei's 450-metric-ton GXW injection molding machine was producing center console armrests using the FiberForm process. Proper built the mold and worked on the product design and development.
"FiberForm … is a technology that Germany has been working on for quite a long time, and it's just now getting into production in the marketplace," said Paul Caprio, president of the Florence, K.y.-based North American operations for Munich's KraussMaffei Group GmbH.
"The advantage of having Proper build a mold is our North American customers do not have to go to Europe for a mold because typically the new technology starts in Europe and, therefore, all the partners are in Europe and that makes it harder for the North Americans," Caprio said during an interview at the event. "Having Proper in the mix helps to bring it local so we can actually show-and-tell."
The two companies began the partnership in 2010 when Krauss-Maffei moved its polyurethane tooling operations from Novi, Mich., to Proper's site in Warren.
Caprio estimated Krauss-Maffei has invested "millions and millions of dollars" into the FiberForm technology.
"Even for Proper to build a mold without a customer, most mold makers in this country would not even have thought about that," he said of the partner's commitment.