Market studies predict double-digit market growth for fiber-reinforced plastics in coming years. This growth is primarily due to demand from the automotive, aviation and wind energy industries. For these applications, KraussMaffei offers sophisticated machine and mold technology with FiberForm, Long Fiber Injection (LFI) and Resin Transfer Molding (RTM) as well as special solutions for lightweight components, which are becoming increasingly popular in series production. "The increasing number of orders we are receiving makes it clear that the market volume for carbon fiber-reinforced components is growing continuously," says 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. "The legal regulations and discussions about CO2 emissions and sustainability are supporting the positive trend." Lightweight fiber composite components weigh approximately 50 percent less than comparable components made of metal.
Together with partners Dieffenbacher GmbH, the Technical University of Munich and the Fraunhofer ICT, KraussMaffei is capable of implementing the entire turnkey process chain, from unwinding the semi-finished textile material – such as a carbon-fiber reinforced plastic fabric – to final machining of the finished fiber composite component. As part of this group, KraussMaffei supplies the metering technology, including mixing head, mold technology, and solutions for cutting the finished component. Dieffenbacher provides the components for preforming the fiber mats and the press technology. "We jointly operate an independent research and development center with production capabilities to advance process-oriented component design and development," Fries explains. The optimum interaction of all system components, including the press, mold and metering machine, is an important criterion when manufacturing highly complex components with a high fiber volume content.
The innovative KraussMaffei metering system for processing highly reactive resins, such as epoxy, PU or PA, enables extremely short cycle times. It features a special vacuum-assisted tank system and a high-precision, energy-efficient temperature control with constant operating point. The high pressure RTM molds are also heat-balanced and have a special seal system that enables resin injections with up to 100 bar of mold cavity pressure. Sophisticated integrated sensors monitor and regulate optimum filling of the mold. The self-cleaning mixing head system for resin injection enables a highly accurate and reproducible feed of internal release agents. KraussMaffei post-mold processing centers are used at the end of the process chain. These mobile, robust and compact machining cells feature outstanding short cycle times and high repeatability. Additional peripheral tool and handling units can be added to create a complete system.