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A new, fully automated wetmoulding system which offers shorter cycle times and increased process reliability compared with manual solutions was demonstrated at the KraussMaffei Competence Forum on 6 June.
Visitors to the KraussMaffei TechCentre saw a live demonstration of fibre reinforced polyurethane-based sheet component manufacturing on the turnkey system.
KraussMaffei has marketed the wetmoulding process for the manufacture of fibre reinforced plastic components since 2013, and it has subsequently been developed further. In the wetmoulding process, a matrix material is applied in continuous strips to a flat-lying semi-finished fibre product and then pressed into shape in a mould. The wetmoulding process is said to offer numerous advantages over existing high-pressure processes (such as high-pressure resin transfer moulding).
“The cycle time is shorter because wetting takes place outside of the mould, no preforming is necessary, and, in addition, recycled fibres can be used,” explains Sebastian Schmidhuber, Head of Reaction Process Machinery Development at KraussMaffei.
Automation of the individual processes offers further potential reduction of cycle times. At the Competence Forum, KraussMaffei presented for the first time present a fully automated solution in live production.
“Thanks to the high degree of automation, the cycle times can again be considerably reduced,” Schmidhuber continues. “At the same time, process reliability increases.”
The wetmoulding system was demonstrated producing a basalt-fibre test sheet. A robot equipped with needle grippers picks up the fibre mats and feeds them to the application table, where a handling robot applies the polyurethane matrix using a mixing head (MK 10-2K-RTM) and flat sheet die. The gripping robot places the mats into the mould where the moulding and curing process begins. The implemented MX mould carrier with a clamping force of 8,000 kN has corresponding interfaces for metering machines, with the option to process epoxy, polyurethane or polyamide. A RimStar 8/4 RTM metering machine with polyurethane matrix is also used.
“Sophisticated automation and thus reduced cycle times – with the new wetmoulding system we offer our customers a turnkey line to increase their competitive edge sustainably,” Schmidhuber concludes.
Image provided by KraussMaffei
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