“As a Competence Centre, we are even better able to support our customers to more fully exploit the potential offered by the physical foaming process,” says Claus Wilde, Managing Director at ENGEL Deutschland in Stuttgart. “We already have a number of major customers here in southwestern Germany who use the MuCell process in their factories worldwide.”
Therefore, a large manufacturing cell has been installed in the ENGEL Technology Centre in Stuttgart for customer trials, development work, application-specific consulting, training and small-lot production – for example, for initial sampling. Equipped with an ENGEL duo 350 injection moulding machine with a clamping force of 3500 kN, an integrated ENGEL easix multi-axis robot and a T-200 MuCell unit from the company’s technology partner Trexel, the cell covers a broad spectrum of applications.
Long before the Competence Centre was opened, ENGEL had appointed a MuCell Technology Expert for the site. Over the past months, Lukas Neunzig has successfully completed numerous MuCell projects with customers from around the world at ENGEL’s headquarters in Schwertberg and at the large-scale machine plant in St. Valentin, and he is bringing this experience to Stuttgart.
To celebrate the inauguration of the Competence Centre, ENGEL hosted a MuCell technology event in mid-September, which was fully booked several weeks in advance with over 120 participants. “The great success of our event confirms the huge potential and strong demand here in the southwest,” Wilde emphasises. The technology event underlined a further trend: MuCell is not just for car manufacturers. “We are receiving a growing number of inquiries from other industries as well, such as technical injection moulding and medical technology,” says Wilde.
Less weight, better component properties
There are two main factors that are key to the great success of MuCell technology. First is the general lightweight trend and, second, the high quality of the components produced in the structural foam moulding process.
Physical foaming involves the injection and homogeneous distribution of a blowing agent into the plastic melt during plastification. After injection into the mould, the gas separates from the melt and creates a fine-cell foam structure. In this way, significantly less material is needed to fill the cavities compared to standard injection moulding and the component weight decreases. At the same time, components produced by MuCell have proven to have high dimensional stability. Since foaming enhances the flow properties of the melt, even challenging geometries with undercuts are completely filled.
MuCell is a brand owned by the company Trexel, located in Wilmington, MA, USA. As a system supplier, ENGEL imports the MuCell systems for its customers and manages the integration of the controls and safety aspects into the injection moulding machine, making it very easy to implement the technology.
Apart from Stuttgart, ENGEL also offers customers its MuCell know-how and machine capabilities in Austria, the USA and China.
ENGEL sees strong growth in Stuttgart
ENGEL Deutschland GmbH Technologieforum Stuttgart was formed in 2013 as ENGEL’s fourth sales and service subsidiary in Germany. With their particularly large technology centre and conference area, the ENGEL team in Stuttgart started out with the aspiration to establish the site as an information and communication hub for the injection moulding industry in the southwest of Germany. The goal was reached very quickly. Every year more than 700 guests take part in conferences, workshops and seminars. The events offered cover a wide range of subjects from machine operation and process technologies to the automation and digitalisation of injection moulding processes.
Due to its proximity to major car manufacturers and OEMs in Baden-Württemberg, ENGEL in Stuttgart generates a large part of its sales with applications for automobiles. The fields of medical technology and packaging, for which a separate key account manager has been hired, are both growing.
Beginning with a staff of 18, the current workforce of ENGEL Deutschland Technologieforum Stuttgart is 45 ‒ and rising. “We have significantly strengthened the fields of service, project management and application technology recently,” says Claus Wilde. Following the example of the company’s headquarters in Austria, ENGEL also offers its staff in Stuttgart many opportunities for professional and personal development as well as an extensive employee benefits package including support for childcare.