Engel to supply machine for composites research at Open Hybrid Lab Factory

The new Engel machine is designed for the ProVorPlus project that focuses on the integrated process technologies for the pressembly of fiber-reinforced plastic/metal hybrids.

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Engel (Schwertberg, Austria) is currently building a v-duo 3600 machine for the Open Hybrid Lab Factory in Wolfsburg, Germany. Engel is a founder member and sponsor of the research center initiated by Volkswagen in 2012 and supported by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

This public/private partnership 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.

The new Engel machine is designed for the ProVorPlus project that focuses on the integrated process technologies for the pressembly of fiber-reinforced plastic/metal hybrids.

In its own Center for Lightweight Composite Technologies in Austria, Engel works on developing technologies for lightweight automotive construction. In collaboration with its partners, Engel says it has established a number of key milestones over recent years.

"One important precondition for successful FRP projects is that the materials, design and production process mesh in the best possible way. This can only work if enterprises bundle their expertise along the value chain. Composite engineering needs 'composite' development," said Peter Egger, director of the Engel Center for Lightweight Composite Technologies. “That belief underpins our commitment to the Open Hybrid Lab Factory association.”

With clamping force of 36,000 kN, the Engel v-duo 3600 is the largest machine in its series. One machine in the same clamping force class is installed at BMW’s Landshut factory, where large structural components of fiber-reinforced plastic composites are manufactured using the HP-RTM process.

To ensure the machine can be deployed with maximum flexibility for various research purposes, the Engel v-duo 3600 for Wolfsburg will be fitted with two injection units. In addition to this, lightweight construction solutions can be combined with additional injection molding technologies.

Engel developed its v-duo series specifically for fiber-reinforced processing. In contrast to the presses conventionally used in such applications, Engel vertical machines have a relatively small footprint. The height and weight of the machines are much lower, which reduces the foundation building overhead. The clamping unit can be accessed from all four sides instead of just two due to a very high rigidity as well as the parallelism of the mold mounting platens.

The Engel v-duo operates without a hydraulic accumulator as it works with the servohydraulic Engel ecodrive.