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Potential for Tape Inserts in Injection Moulding

  • Monday, 23rd September 2019
  • Reading time: about 4 minutes

Following the finalisation of a major consortial project led by the Aachen Centre for Integrative Light-weight Production (AZL) and the Institute for Plastics Processing at RWTH Aachen University (IKV), the result is clear: tape inserts offer enormous potential for injection moulding parts.

For suitable components, product costs and component properties can be positively influenced. “We are so satisfied with the progress and results of the study that we have already defined several follow-up projects and are also forming a consortium for the short-term identification and implementation of new applications,” explains Prof. Christian Hopmann, Founding Professor of the AZL and Head of the IKV. Both the previous results and the planned follow-up projects are the subject of the ‘Technology Information Day’ at K 2019, to which the companies involved in the study, the AZL and IKV, invite all companies along the value chain, from raw material manufacturers to injection moulders to OEMs. (Date: 18 October 2019, 10:00 am to 1:30 pm, Trade Fair Düsseldorf CCD South, Room 002).

In cooperation with 20 industrial partners, the two renowned Aachen research institutes AZL and IKV carried out a detailed analysis of tape inserts in injection moulded components over a period of eight months. The tapes, which are a few tenths of a millimeter thick, are continuous fibres, typically made of glass or carbon, completely impregnated and embedded in a thermoplastic matrix. The tapes can be precisely aligned to the loads in a component and are used primarily in high-performance applications with the aim of weight reduc-tion. The aim of the conducted analysis was the identification of potential applications and the estimation of a wider range of applications. “We know that the integration of small amounts of high performance tapes into typical injection moulded parts can contribute significantly to material savings in their manufacture. Lightweight construction is only a secondary effect, one of the main drivers for establishing the technology is cost reduc-tion,” says Dr. Kai Fischer.

The project was divided into several phases: Phase I was used to identify the current status. In 20 interviews with representative companies of the injection moulding industry, the researchers gathered why tape inserts have rarely been taken into account so far, when defining the material concepts to be analysed. The lack of information about the material class, the procedure and tools for the development process and the necessary production technologies were cited as major challenges. This is where the consortium will take action and provide comprehensive information during the ‘Technology Information Day’ on the extensively prepared state of the art and the high degree of maturity of the supply chain. Based on the status quo, they developed a methodology for analysing the technological and economic potential of tape inserts in injection moulding applications. “Our analysis clearly underlined the potential of the tape inserts. With them, the material perfor-mance can be increased. Therefore, component costs can be saved by using cheaper injection moulding compounds or less material or by optimising the cycle time of the production process,” Dr Michael Emonts summarises the promising results. “It is also advantageous that the process sequence with tape inserts is certainly comparable with in-mould labelling processes, so that some existing automation technology can be used.”

The consortium, amongst others consisting of Asahi Kasei Europe, BASE, Borealis, BÜFA Thermoplastic Composites, ENGEL AUSTRIA, Huesker Synthetic, LG Hausys R&D Centre, Mitsui Chemicals, Nippon Electric Glass, Polyscope Polymers BV, POLYTEC GROUP, Simcon kunststofftechnische Software, SABIC and Toray International Europe, is inviting to the ‘Technology Information Day’ at K 2019. The goal is to inform about the technology and to identify topics for future collaboration. The event will also be a platform for bringing together partners to develop the market and to cooperate within technological development projects.

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