Aachen, September 2013 – The Institute of Plastics Processing (IKV) in Industry and the Skilled Crafts at RWTH Aachen University will again be represented at this year's K in Düsseldorf from October 16 – 23, 2013. It will have its own stand in Hall 14/C16. In an ambitious exhibition project involving 14 project partners, IKV will demonstrate the processing of fibre-reinforced plastics (FRP) with thermoplastic matrices by injection moulding. The project combines the advantages of the liquid impregnation process, which allows the processing of textile preforms, with the benefits of a thermoplastic matrix. For this, the research team is developing a completely automated, highly integrated process that takes advantage of so-called in-situ polymerisation. By transferring the system to the injection moulding process (in situ injection moulding), it is possible to combine complex fibre preforms with a monomer for large-volume production directly in the injection moulding machine. The IKV research team chose a shin guard as the demonstrator.
Conventional production processes for FRP parts have a number of disadvantages. For example, until now they have required two separate processes (e.g. for nylon composite sheet: impregnation and moulding). Furthermore, the moulding is restricted to comparatively simple geometries and a limited range of surface finishes. The IKV process aims to eliminate these disadvantages. With the in situ injection moulding process, the textile preform is impregnated with low-viscosity caprolactam monomer, and then reacts by in situ polymerisation to produce polyamide 6.
Requirements for this new process, apart from an optimised matrix formulation, include customised fibre/sizing systems, a special injection moulding machine technology and, above all, innovative mould, sealing and process engineering.
The shin guard has been chosen to demonstrate the effectiveness of the process. The part consists of a hard protective component made of fibre-reinforced thermoplastic and the flexible component made of thermoplastic elastomer (TPE). As a result, the part has high mechanical properties, good impact behaviour, low weight and high wear comfort. Furthermore, the highly integrated innovative process allows the high-volume production needed for series manufacture.
The partners in the IKV exhibition project include: ASS Maschinenbau, Clariant, EM-Systeme, ENGEL AUSTRIA, Gummiwerk Kraiburg, gwk Gesellschaft Wärme Kältetechnik, Hasco Hasenclever, Hennecke, Keller Lufttechnik, Kistler Instrumente, LANXESS Deutschland, P-D Interglas Technologies, Piovan and Schöfer.
Shin guard made of fibre-reinforced thermoplastic and TPE by in situ injection moulding (photo: IKV)