KraussMaffei automated wetmolding system reduces cycle times
KraussMaffei (Munich, Germany) on June 6 announced a new, fully automated wetmolding system from KraussMaffei Reaction Process Machinery. The new system is said to reduce the cycle time and increase process reliability compared with manual solutions.
In 2013, KraussMaffei marketed the wetmolding process for the manufacture of fiber-reinforced plastic components, which it has continued to develop further. In the wetmolding process, a matrix material is applied in continuous strips to a flat-lying semi-finished fiber product and then pressed into shape in a mold. According to KraussMaffei, the wetmolding process offers advantages to known high-pressure processes (high-pressure resin transfer molding).
"The cycle time is shorter because wetting takes place outside of the mold, no preforming is necessary, and, in addition, recycled fibers can be used," says Sebastian Schmidhuber, head of Reaction Process Machinery Development at KraussMaffei.
Automation of the individual processes reportedly offers further potential reduction of cycle times. At KraussMaffei’s Competence Forum on June 6 the company demonstrated the automated process by producing a basalt-fiber test sheet. A robot equipped with needle grippers picks up the fiber mats and feeds them to the application table, where a handling robot applies the polyurethane matrix using a mixing head (MK 10-2K-RTM) and flat sheet die. The gripping robot places the mats into the mold where the molding and curing process begins. The implemented MX mold carrier with a clamping force of 8,000 kN has corresponding interfaces for metering machines, with the option to process epoxy, polyurethane or polyamide. A RimStar 8/4 RTM metering machine with polyurethane matrix is also used.
There are numerous methods for fabricating composite components. Selection of a method for a particular part, therefore, will depend on the materials, the part design and end-use or application. Here's a guide to selection.
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