Driving forward thermoplastic-based lightweight construction – In the pole position with ENGEL v-duo | NewsLIGHT #14 | Engel
Increasing the performance and cost-effectiveness of high-tech lightweight construction components is a daily challenge for CCP Gransden. In order to secure its pole position in the trending topic of thermoplastic composites, the company near Belfast in Northern Ireland invested in a v-duo press by ENGEL.
Composite solutions on a consistently thermoplastic material basis allow for especially efficient, integrated production processes and the subsequent recycling of disused parts. These are the reasons why there is an increasing focus on thermoplastic materials for lightweight construction in the context of high volumes. Important impulses come from the automotive industry. However, also aircraft manufacturers increasingly request thermoplastic solutions. “The structure and the interior of an aircraft also include components that are needed in large quantities”, explains Peter Quigley, Engineering Manager of CCP Gransden. “We adapt processes developed for the automotive industry to aircraft manufacturing. The exciting thing is that we often bring back the optimized processes into the automotive industry – thus also increasing efficiency and performance there.”
A clear focus on innovation, customer-specific solutions, and continuous investment are the factors that CCP Gransden considers as key to its success. “It is our goal to benefit from new possibilities as early on as possible”, emphasizes Jim Erskine, the owner and Managing Director of CCP Gransden. Thermoplastic composites are the prime example of this. CCP is one of the first users of the ENGEL v-duo machines in the United Kingdom.
Cycle times of under two minutes
ENGEL developed the v-duo series with a focus on fiber-composite applications and took the trend to thermoplastic materials into account from the get-go. The convenient operating predestines the machine for research and development as well. Since the clamping unit can be equipped easily with a sliding table, it also allows for highly efficient automation concepts, which in turn accelerates the industrialization of newly developed processing methods.
In the ENGEL organomelt process – or single stage overmolding, as CCP Gransden calls it –reinforced semi-finished products with a thermoplastic matrix are heated, placed into the mold, formed and directly overmolded with thermoplastic. The combination of shaping and functionalization in the same mold and in a single stage makes the process extremely efficient. In addition, there are benefits from the fast processing of thermoplastics, even in the case of highly demanding components. “We are already achieving cycle times today of under two minutes”, emphasizes Quigley. “This is the key to realizing the costs per unit demanded by the automotive industry – and a clear competitive advantage for us.”
CCP Gransden uses the v-duo machine by ENGEL for R&D tasks as well as series production by customer order.
Sample parts illustrate the huge potential of the ENGEL organomelt technology. The semi-finished continuous fiber products is first shaped and subsequently functionalized.
A smoothly operating team: Peter Quigley (left) with colleagues and ENGEL technicians.
Pictures: CCP Gransden