NBHX is a company with 9700 employees, making it one of the biggest automotive suppliers for plastic visible and structural components, and a pioneer in lightweight construction in China. They expect that lightweight construction will also see above-average growth there, and have therefore invested in the high-pressure RTM technology from KraussMaffei. Recently, a high-pressure RimStar Compact 8/4 RTM machine was commissioned for manufacturing epoxy resin parts, and a second RimStar Compact 8/8 RTM machine was commissioned for manufacturing parts with a polyurethane matrix. Added to these are an MX mold carrier with a mold fixing area of 3000 x 2000 millimeters and a clamping force of 600 tonnes, and a prototype mold. The General Manager of NBHX's R&D department, Dr.-Ing. Karsten Brast, attaches great strategic importance to this investment in the new machines and systems from KraussMaffei: "Based on the feedback from several customers, we are confident that, with the HP-RTM technology, we are on the right path. We have already noticed great interest in lightweight components from OEMs and expect to start to use these in series production, step by step."
On the KraussMaffei systems, NBHX is gaining experience in the manufacture of structural and visible components in the form of composites that are reinforced with carbon fiber or fiberglass.
NBHX's customers include almost all of the automotive manufacturers that have production facilities in China and, through their cooperation with American, European and Asian brands, practically the entire crème de la crème of the automotive world. The main focal points are plastic components for the interior and exterior, which are increasingly being trimmed down to lightweight construction and reinforced with carbon fiber or fiberglass.
The HP-RTM process allows fiber content of up to 70 percent and enables the use of polyurethane (PUR), epoxy resin or base polyamide as a matrix material. To make the production of fiber-composite components for the automotive sector suitable for series production, KraussMaffei has carried out pioneering work in many areas: For mold carriers, in mixing and dosing technology, and even in energy-efficient pumps, which they have produced themselves for some time now. In this context, Erich Fries, Head of the Composites & Surfaces Business Unit, points out one of the new key components: "To shorten the cycle times in the RTM process and to increase the quality of the parts, we have developed new self-cleaning high-pressure RTM mixing heads to ensure excellent mixing of the matrix components and short response times. One important advantage for the customers is the development of a precise metered addition of release agents directly via the mixing head, which means that the manual release agent procedure is no longer required."
During the Chinaplas in Shanghai, visitors to KraussMaffei's trade show booth (hall E1, booth K41) and to an open house (April 23 to 25) at the KraussMaffei Group's site in Haiyan are able to find out about the topic of lightweight construction. Among other things, the roof module for the Roding Roadster R1, which is manufactured using the surface RTM process, will be on display and its manufacture will be explained. The newly developed surface RTM process enables cost-effective mass production of paintable fiber-reinforced visible components for automotive construction. Paintable components are created by flow-coating the surface of the fiber-composite component with a polyurethane layer directly in the cavity, without the need for any additional intermediate steps.