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ENGEL to equip Open Hybrid LabFactory with v-duo 3600 for integrated composites research

Injection moulding machine manufacturer ENGEL is currently building an ENGEL v-duo 3600 machine for the Open Hybrid LabFactory (OHLF) public/private collaborative research partnership in Wolfsburg, Germany where the machine will support research into functionally integrated composite technologies. (BMW uses ENGEL duo injection moulding machines to manufacture car body shell components for the BMW i3 electric vehicle. Earlier post.)

With a 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 fibre-reinforced plastic composites are manufactured using the HP-RTM process.

Assembling the v-duo 3600. Click to enlarge.

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. ENGEL has been adding this option to its injection moulding machines for years; the same feature is offered in the ENGEL v-duo series, thereby facilitating multi-component processes, to give one example. In addition to this, lightweight construction solutions can be combined with further injection moulding technologies.

OHLF incorporates a 799 m2 laboratory, a 2,500 m2 technical center, and 4,692 m2 of office space.
Participating organizations include Technical University of Braunschweig; the Fraunhofer Institute; Volkswagen; Siempelkamp; Engel; Magna; BASF; DowAkza; and Thyssen-Krupp.
The Chairman of OHLF is Prof. Dr. Werner Neubauer who is responsible for the business area of components at Volkswagen.

ENGEL developed its v-duo series specifically for fibre-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 very high rigidity and the outstanding parallelism of the mould mounting platens, it guarantees the precision casting of even fine structures.

Since the ENGEL v-duo operates without a hydraulic accumulator and instead works with the servohydraulic ENGEL ecodrive as standard, the machine is also setting new standards of energy efficiency in the field of fibre-reinforced processing, the company said.

ENGEL is a founding member and sponsor of the research center which was initiated by Volkswagen in 2012 and supported by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The factory will be operated by the association together with Braunschweig University of Technology.

To cover the entire value chain for lightweight hybrid components—from concept and design to production and recycling—the association oversees every step in the process in partnership with international technology leaders, including ENGEL. The aim of the wide-ranging collaborative research is to unlock previously inaccessible potential in both market development and technology while speeding up the application of innovative lightweight construction technologies in the mass production of automobiles.

OHLF has defined a number of research projects to commence this autumn at a new research facility that is currently being built. Among other things, the new ENGEL machine is intended for the ProVorPlus project that focuses on functionally integrated process technologies for the pre-assembly of fibre-reinforced plastic/metal hybrids.

Machine and plant manufacturer Siempelkamp is also supplying a 2,500 t hybrid press to OHLF, also for use in the ProVorPlus project.

Siempelkamp’s multi-function press, part of a research project regarding hybrid lightweight structural components, will become part of the research complex Open Hybrid Lab Factory in Wolfsburg. Click to enlarge.

The 2,500 t press allows the forming of organosheets as well as the manufacture of fiber-reinforced composites using the RTM and the SMC process. The press can also be utilized for deep-drawing and hot forming of various materials. By means of a special extruder the hybrid components can also be back-molded for the manufacture of large high-strength components.

Four cylinders with a pressing capacity of 625 t 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 t. Another feature: The moving beam with a dimension of 2,000 x 2,500 mm2 can be tilted by 5°. Thus, the material can be optimally distributed in the press area.


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