The National Composites Centre in Bristol, England, has an integrated manufacturing cell for overmolding fiber-reinforced semi-finished products with an Engel duo injection press with 1,700 metric tons of clamping force — paving the way for mass production in automotive and aerospace.
NCC is one of seven institutes, each with its own thematic focus, which form the Catapult Network. Engel said it's similar to the Fraunhofer Society in Germany.
“We act as kind of catalyst,” said Paul Gallen, sector lead for automotive at the National Composites Centre.
Engel officials say the technology for processing thermoplastic fiber composites is expanding rapidly.
“On the one hand, thermoplastic matrix materials enable efficient further processing of semi-finished products in an injection molding machine and functionalization with materials from the same material group in a fully integrated, automated process,” said Christian Wolfsberger, business development manager for composite technologies at Engel Holding GmbH headquarters in Schwertberg, Austria. “Process integration and automation are the prerequisites for achieving the unit costs required by the high-volume automotive industry.
"On the other hand, thermoplastic composites simplify the subsequent recycling of components, which is in line with the trend towards the circular economy.”