Romeo RIM installs world's largest long-fiber injection machine

Romeo RIM's new long-fiber injection machine can produce parts up to 121 sq ft in size and was designed and developed with the help of Bayer MaterialScience and KraussMaffei.

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Romeo RIM Inc. (Romeo, Mich., USA) announced on May 26 that it has installed the largest long fiber injection (LFI) press in the world, with the capability to produce very large parts measuring up to a record-breaking 121 ft2/11.2m2.

The new machine is a 400-ton, 12-ft by 12-ft (3.7 by 3.7m) double-shuttle press. As a fully automated system, it will ensure the consistency in production of all components. It is also noteworthy that it is the only piece of equipment in North America that will robotically in-mold paint parts. The design and installation of the press was a collaborative effort of Romeo RIM, materials supplier Bayer MaterialScience LLC and equipment maker KraussMaffei.

KraussMaffei, inventor of the LFI process, designed and manufactured the press, and served as general contractor for the project. JP Mead, vice president, KraussMaffei, elaborated on the successful collaboration of the group members: “The design input from Romeo RIM and process participation from Bayer MaterialScience were invaluable to this project.”

Bayer MaterialScience LLC, which has a long-standing working relationship with Romeo RIM, applied its expertise in polyurethane chemistry to the project, according to Harry George, polyurethanes expert, Bayer MaterialScience LLC. “Leveraging our deep technical know-how, we fine-tuned reaction times to help create the best parts possible using this large press.”

“Romeo RIM sees this as an opportunity to help our customers take their products to the next level by capitalizing on the many advantages of creating parts with the LFI process,” says Paul Condeelis, vice president of business development. “By installing this line, we are able to give our customers a real competitive edge — the ability to produce very large parts that are strong, light and also cost effective.”

During the LFI process, long glass fibers are injected along with polyurethane resin in a one-step process. A fiberglass chopper is attached to the polyurethane dispensing mixhead, which is attached to a robot. The robot is programmed to move over the open mold cavity while simultaneously dispensing both the long glass fibers and the polyurethane resin in an open-pour method. At the end of the pour, the mold is closed, and the part is formed.

A sprayable in-mold coating results in a painted, Class-A surface right out of the mold. Large, Class-A-surface LFI parts that can be produced with the new press are well suited for a number of markets, including agricultural, building and construction, mass transit and heavy trucks, among others.

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