KraussMaffei: Fibre-reinforced lightweight construction involving TPE

The annual trade show JEC World is a must for the global composites industry but definitely not a platform where you would expect to see interesting and innovative applications involving thermoplastic elastomers. Although at this year’s JEC World held from 12-14 March in Paris, KraussMaffei showed a successful combination of its proprietary FiberForm process and swivel plate technology for multi-component injection moulding: a centre armrest for the automotive interior with a pleasant to touch TPE surface . The FiberForm process developed by KraussMaffei combines the thermoforming of organo sheets and injection moulding into one process. This process results in fibre-reinforced plastic components that are particularly lightweight yet feature a high level of strength.

Functional and visible components with partial reinforcement in the one-shot process – the combination of multicomponent technology and FiberForm opens up opportunities for functional lightweight construction in visible automotive parts. (Source: KraussMaffei)

„This combination can be used to create completely new visual and haptic component features for thermoplastic composites in a single process. The TPE component gives the functional and visible parts of the centre armrest an outstandingly soft and visually appealing surface,“ explains Dr. Mesut Cetin, Group Product Manager at KraussMaffei Automation. In turn, the use of the composite sheet increases the rigidity and strength of the component. This enables the reinforcement ribs and the component itself to be designed with thinner walls, cutting weight by approx. 20 % and cutting costs by around 15 %.

The KraussMaffei Group’s three technologies – injection moulding, reaction process and extrusion – make it the only provider that can cover all three technologies from a single source. „We give our customers advice independent of the process and accompany them along the entire journey, from idea to series production-ready fibre composite solutions. This expertise is what sets us apart, along with our experience and the worldwide references from serial producers. In doing so, we supply solutions along the entire process chain and work closely together with partners from the industry and research communities,“ stated Nicolas Beyl, President of the Reaction Process Machinery Segment.