Thermoplastic Composites: For even gentler plasticising

ENGEL, Schwertberg, Austria – January 2020

In-situ polymerisation opens up great opportunities in the production of fibre-reinforced plastic components with a thermoplastic polyamide matrix.

Based on dry reinforcement textiles, polymerisation and moulding are combined, enabling particularly efficient and automated processes in series production, for example, in lightweight automotive engineering. The decisive factor for processing efficiency and product quality is the reactive unit developed by ENGEL specifically for the preparation and injection of ε-Caprolactam. ENGEL has systematically further optimised its solution with a new, smaller size.

Now offering two sizes, ENGEL covers an even wider range of applications and supports its customers from product and process development, through scale-up to series production. The new smaller reactive unit can handle matrix volumes between 10 and 600 cm³, offering great flexibility, especially for testing facilities, in the production of test parts, specimens and parts up to a weight of 1.5 kilograms. The second, larger unit can process matrix volumes of up to 1500 cm³. Both units are very compact. They integrate the complete media supply and
reduce the footprint required for the entire system.

In in-situ polymerisation, the thermoplastic RTM process, pre-shaped dry fibre preforms are infiltrated directly in the mould cavity with the reactive matrix. Thanks to ε-Caprolactam’s low viscosity in molten state, the dry fibres can be wetted particularly well. Compared to duroplastic RTM, longer flow paths and a higher fibre content are possible. When the ε-Caprolactam is polymerised to create Polyamide 6, a composite with particularly high load-bearing capacity is formed that can be functionalized by injection moulding immediately after
manufacture in the same process…

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