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Airtech Europe
Airtech Europe
Techtextil NA & TexProcess

30th September 2019, Aachen

Project confirms tape inserts potential for injection moulding

Market and technology analysis confirms potential for tape inserts in the injection moulding process. © AZLFollowing the finalisation of a major consortial project led by the Aachen Center for Integrative Light-weight Production (AZL) and the Institute for Plastics Processing at RWTH Aachen University (IKV), the result showed that tape inserts offer enormous potential for injection moulding parts.

For suitable components, product costs and component properties can be positively influenced. “We are so satisfied with the progress and results of the study that we have already defined several follow-up projects and are also forming a consortium for the short-term identification and implementation of new applications,” explained Prof Christian Hopmann, founding professor of the AZL and head of the IKV.

Both the previous results and the planned follow-up projects are the subject of the Technology Information Day on 18 October at K 2019, to which the companies involved in the study, the AZL and IKV, invite all companies along the value chain, from raw material manufacturers to injection moulders to OEMs.

Analysis of tape inserts

In cooperation with 20 industrial partners, the two renowned Aachen research institutes AZL and IKV carried out a detailed analysis of tape inserts in injection moulded components over a period of eight months. The tapes, which are a few tenths of a millimetre thick, are continuous fibres, typically made of glass or carbon, completely impregnated and embedded in a thermoplastic matrix. The tapes can be precisely aligned to the loads in a component and are used primarily in high-performance applications with the aim of weight reduction.

The aim of the conducted analysis was the identification of potential applications and the estimation of a wider range of applications. “We know that the integration of small amounts of high-performance tapes into typical injection moulded parts can contribute significantly to material savings in their manufacture. Lightweight construction is only a secondary effect, one of the main drivers for establishing the technology is cost reduction,” said Dr Kai Fischer.

Identifying the potential

The project was divided into several phases: phase I was used to identify the current status. In 20 interviews with representative companies of the injection moulding industry, the researchers gathered why tape inserts have rarely been taken into account so far, when defining the material concepts to be analysed. The lack of information about the material class, the procedure and tools for the development process and the necessary production technologies were cited as major challenges.

This is where the consortium will take action and provide comprehensive information during the Technology Information Day on the extensively prepared state of the art and the high degree of maturity of the supply chain. Based on the status quo, they developed a methodology for analysing the technological and economic potential of tape inserts in injection moulding applications.

“Our analysis clearly underlined the potential of the tape inserts. With them, the material performance can be increased. Therefore, component costs can be saved by using cheaper injection moulding compounds or less material or by optimizing the cycle time of the production process,” summarised Dr Michael Emonts. “It is also advantageous that the process sequence with tape inserts is certainly comparable with in-mould labelling processes, so that some existing automation technology can be used.”

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