Siempelkamp to supply innovative press to Open Hybrid Lab Factory

The 2,500-tonne press, to be installed at Wolfsburg, Germany, will be designed to form multiple materials, including composite/metal hybrids.

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Machine and plant manufacturer Siempelkamp (Krefeld, Germany) will supply a 2,500-tonne press to Open Hybrid Lab Factory e.V. (OHLF). This public/private partnership, established in 2012, carries out collaborative research for industry and science on the topics of material development, concepts and production technologies for mass production of hybrid lightweight structural components. 
Siempelkamp, as a full member, is supplying a key element of the research project, a newly developed hybrid press.

New products require new manufacturing processes. For production testing of hybrid lightweight structural components used in the automobile, aerospace and general machine engineering industries, Siempelkamp developed an innovative technology. The 2,500-t press allows the forming of fiber/resin organosheets as well as the manufacture of fiber-reinforced composites using the RTM and the SMC processes. The press can also be utilized for deep-drawing and hot forming of various materials. Another technical highlight:  By means of a special extruder the hybrid components can also be back-molded for the manufacture of large, high-strength components.

"Such a press has never been built to date," explains Dr. Michael Schöler, head of Siempelkamp’s research department and initiator of the project at Siempelkamp. "This press is unique regarding its function and technology." Four cylinders with a pressing capacity of 625 tonnes each allow press speeds of up to 800 mm/second. Accuracies in the +/- 0.05 mm range are achieved. The die cushion applies a force of 1,000 tonnes. Another feature is the moving beam, with a dimension of 2,000 x 2,500 mm2, which can be tilted by 5°. Thus, the material can be optimally distributed in the press area, says the company.

Immediately after startup, the new press will be utilized in Wolfsburg, Germany, within the framework of the research project "ProVorPlus". This project, which officially started on November 1, researches functionally-integrated process technologies for the prefabrication of composite/metal hybrids. Siempelkamp will develop suitable press system technology for the manufacture of lightweight material hybrids and incorporate such a solution in this collaborative research project. 

OHLF has the objective to develop a solution that allows the large-scale production of hybrid materials. Hybrids in this case are components made from various materials. The goal here is to achieve maximum strength with as little material as possible. As an example, an automotive body-in-white, which is made of 200 to 300 individual components and various materials today, could be manufactured from 20 to 30 hybrid components in the future. This not only saves material but also reduces production time. Another objective for OHLF is to research which material combinations achieve the best material properties and strength. 

Open Hybrid Lab Factory in Wolfsburg incorporates a 799 m2 laboratory, a 2,500 m2 technical center, and 4,692 m2 of office space. Here, scientists of the Technical University of Braunschweig, the Fraunhofer Institute, Volkswagen, Siempelkamp and other industrial companies including Engel, Magna, BASF, DowAksa and Thyssen-Krupp are researching in a joint effort the development of hybrid materials. Chairman of OHLF Prof. Dr. Werner Neubauer is responsible for the business area of "components" at Volkswagen. The start-up funding for this large project was provided by the German Federal Government in 2013. Additional financing will become available from the members and promoters of this project. 

"We are proud to be part of such an important research project. With our press we will significantly contribute to the research of a promising product," says Dr. Schöler. The installation of the Siempelkamp press in Wolfsburg is scheduled for October 2015.