KraussMaffei has been involved in various manufacturing processes for fiber-reinforced plastics for many years. "Today our machine and mold technology portfolio encompasses everything from injection molding short glass fiber-reinforced parts to high-strength lightweight components with a complex mesh structure in a reactive matrix," explains Erich Fries, Head of the Composites/Surfaces Business Unit of the Reaction Process Machinery segment at KraussMaffei. The business unit encompasses expertise across all lightweight construction technologies and processes. "What makes us different is that we work as a partner to provide our customers with expert support throughout the entire process chain." For PU China, the company is showing an exemplary assortment of components made from fiber composite materials that are not only solid and lightweight, but can be manufactured with the surface quality needed for product components with high visibility.
The LFI (long fiber injection) process is particularly well suited for large components for trucks and agricultural machinery; this process involves introducing a mixture of long glass fibers and PUR into an open mold using robot control. After closing the mold, the mixture reacts to create the finished component. A GRP roof module for a harvester and an instrument panel manufactured this way will be on display. In addition, the resin transfer molding method will be presented using a roof module for a sports car. Resin transfer molding is used to implement extremely lightweight fiber-reinforced components for the highest safety requirements. This requires inserting preassembled fiber mesh into the mold, then closing and evacuating the mold. Each fiber is wetted without creating entrapped air via the subsequent injection of reactive resin into the cavity. Since this component is in the visible area of the vehicle, the surface is provided with a high-quality carbon appearance.
The well-known clear coat molding (CCM) process, where wood parts are coated with transparent polyurethane to attain outstanding visual characteristics, is being presented alongside the SkinForm process for finishing thermoplastic molded part surfaces, which have great appeal due to their appearance, leather-like feel and resistance to scratching. SkinForm is a multi-component process where the thermoplastic carrier is manufactured first and flooded with polyurethane in part or over large areas in a second step.
In order to advance the specific advantages of SkinForm technology further into the market, KraussMaffei established a partnership with the Chinese company Guangzhou Echom Technology Co. Ltd., whose business includes supplying the Chinese automotive industry. A SkinForm system is currently being installed at the company's headquarters in Guangzhou. It will be available for trials and small-scale series production after the trade show. "Our innovative cross-process procedure reduces the costs of manufacturing high-quality component surfaces by 30 percent compared to conventional multi-stage processes. Our expertise lets us provide the process best suited for specific component requirements," emphasizes Fries.