…this well-worn phrase actually works slightly different. But improving existing parts and technologies is often the best way to get the most out of a minimal investment.
In this context, the question arises: can components that are currently produced in high volumes in the injection moulding process be optimised in terms of their carbon footprint without losing performance or resulting in higher costs?
With minimal investment in injection moulding machines, it is possible to use tape technology in mass production of injection moulded parts. Since fibre-reinforced tapes take up most of the mechanical stress in a part, the injection moulding mass can be significantly reduced by simple design changes, e.g. avoiding ribbing of the part. This leads to positive effects:
- up to 40 % lower costs
- 45% lighter design
- 30 – 40 % lower CO2 footprint per part.
Since 2021, the project consortium of Simcon kunststofftechnische Software GmbH, Conbility GmbH, AZL Aachen GmbH, Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) of RWTH Aachen University and the Institute of Plastics Processing in Industry and the Skilled Crafts at RWTH Aachen University, with advice from AVK, has been working on optimising the injection moulding process by partially incorporating fibrereinforced tapes into the component. The project deliberately focuses on low-cost mass applications in the fields of transport, industry, household appliances, electronics and leisure and sports.
The “Tape Technology Transfer Hub (T3-Hub)” project, funded by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Action (BMWK) under grant number 03LB3055, takes a holistic view of the process chain, builds an integrative simulation and implements the process chain from tape production to the finished injection moulded part in practice. Some highlights that have already been achieved:
- Demonstration of the robust overmoulding of tapes for an automotive component.
- Demonstration of the feasibility of automated tape placement in the injection mould with the same cycle
- Reduction of the mass of the component
- Reduction of the CO2 footprint of the part
- Reduction of the cost of the component
The entire value chain is considered across all phases of a product’s life.
In August a special tool arrived in the machine hall of the AZL Institute, which will now be used to demonstrate the feasibility of injection moulding with tape technology in series production. The tool, which was developed and manufactured in collaboration with BBP Kunststoffwerk Marbach Baier GmbH, will be used to test the tape technology at the AZL RWTH Tech Center on a 1700t injection moulding machine. The practical validation of the theoretical predictions will be carried out in the coming months using a series module from the automotive sector (cf. Fig. 1) and a foldable transport box (cf. Fig. 2).
After corresponding validation of the expected results, a proof-of-concept of the entire optimised process chain is planned for application on a series scale. Likewise, the results will be extended to additional fields of application. After successful completion of the project, the results will finally be transferred into a marketable service covering the entire process chain of planning, simulation and realisation.
Till now, more than 20 industrial partners from the Technology User Committee support the project and are committed to bring the tape technology to series application. Reach out to Fabian to get involved, too.
Through continuous involvement and cooperation of the AZL partners within the Partnership Workgroup “Hybrid Thermoplastic Composites”, the demand for action and the potential of tape technology were identified. In the Joint Partner Project “Potentials and Challenges of Thermoplastic Tapes for SME Injection Molders”, following up on this, the obstacles for the use of tape technology for SME were determined. Through the Tape Technology Transfer Hub, the application of tape technology is simplified, both on the engineering side and in the practical implementation of the process chain, enabling SME for the use of the technology. Get in touch to make use of the know-how and the infrastructure.