Lightweight construction is one of the most important growth drivers in the plastics industry. ENGEL recognised this trend early on and established its own Centre for Lightweight Composite Technologies in 2012, at the site of the large-scale machine plant in St. Valentin, Austria. From the beginning, the goal was to intensely continue developing fibre-composite technologies in cooperation with customers, partner companies and research institutes, and to enable highly efficient and economical processes for high volume series production, for example in automobile construction and consumer electronics. "In the past five years, we have achieved a great deal together with our partners", emphasises Dr Stefan Engleder, CEO of the ENGEL Group. "Some processes have grown out of the stage of fundamental development and are now being increasingly implemented in customer projects. This trend is reflected in the new structure."
Interface between development, industry and automation experts
From now on, ENGEL Composite Systems will be responsible for the project planning of composite systems and project execution in all country markets. The new sub-division thus represents an important interface for ENGEL customers between the Centre for Lightweight Composite Technologies, the business units and the automation division. Like the Centre for Lightweight Composite Technologies, ENGEL Composite Systems is based in St. Valentin. Matthias Mayr has taken over the responsibility of the new unit.
Until now, project planning for the sold composite systems has been handled in the Centre for Lightweight Composite Technologies. In the meantime, however, the increasing demand for integrated lightweight construction solutions requires a separation of the actual project business from development work, states Dr Christoph Steger, CSO of the ENGEL Group: „With this, we are ensuring that we can continue to advance with intensity the research and development of new production processes, while also continuing to represent a wide range of technologies.“
The ENGEL Centre for Lightweight Composite Technologies focuses on all current composite technologies as well as advanced technologies ranging from HP-RTM and SMC, the processing of semi-finished thermoplastic products such as thermoplastic fabric and tapes, through to reactive technologies such as in-situ polymerisation (T-RTM). ENGEL's high level of automation and system solution expertise is an important success factor in the development of economical solutions for the large-scale series. With v-duo, ENGEL is offering a proprietary machine series that has been specifically developed to meet the requirements of the composites industry. "We will increase development resources in the course of re-structuring", says Engleder. The new head of the Centre for Lightweight Composite Technologies is Dr.-Ing. Norbert Müller.
Both Matthias Mayr and Norbert Müller have have been a part of the ENGEL lightweight construction team for many years and are bringing a great deal of experience into their new responsibilities.
Peter Egger heading development of special injection moulding technologies
Peter Egger, the previous head of the Centre for Lightweight Composite Technologies, is transferring to ENGEL Applications Technologies at the corporate headquarters in Schwertberg. As Director of Advanced Technologies, he is responsible for the development, market launch and market support of advanced injection moulding technologies, for example clearmelt, foamelt or optimelt. As the chairman of the VDMA (German Association of Machine and Plant Builders) workgroup for hybrid lightweight construction technologies, he remains closely connected to composite lightweight construction.
"From the very beginning, Peter Egger set up the ENGEL lightweight construction centre with commitment, and led it to success within a very short time", says Stefan Engleder. "In the plastics and the lightweight construction industry, he has placed ENGEL into the focus of composite deciders and established it in the relevant networks. We would like to thank him for his outstanding and pioneering work."
Production processes developed in the Centre for Lightweight Composite Technologies are increasingly finding their way into practice.