An ENGEL v-duo 3600 machine is currently being built for the Open Hybrid LabFactory e.V. association in Wolfsburg at ENGEL AUSTRIA’s large-scale machine plant in St. Valentin, Austria. The machine will support research into functionally integrated composite technologies.

ENGEL is a founding member and sponsor of the research center, initiated by Volkswagen in 2012 and supported by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The factory will be operated by the association together with Braunschweig University of Technology. To cover the entire value chain for lightweight hybrid components, from concept and design to production and recycling, the association oversees every step in the process in partnership with international technology leaders – including ENGEL AUSTRIA. The aim of such wide-ranging collaborative research is to unlock previously inaccessible potential in both market development and technology while speeding up the application of innovative lightweight construction technologies in the mass production of automobiles. With this in mind, the association has defined a number of research projects to commence this autumn at a new research facility that is currently being built. Amongst other things, the new ENGEL machine is intended for the ProVorPlus project that focuses on functionally integrated process technologies for the pre-assembly of FRP/metal hybrids.

In its own Center for Lightweight Composite Technologies in Austria, ENGEL intensively deals with innovative technologies for lightweight automotive construction. In collaboration with its partners, ENGEL has established a number of key milestones over recent years. “One important precondition for successful FRP projects is that the materials, design and production process mesh in the best possible way. This can only work if enterprises bundle their expertise along the value chain. Composite engineering needs ‘composite’ development,” stresses Peter Egger, Director of ENGEL Center for Lightweight Composite Technologies. “That belief underpins our commitment to the Open Hybrid LabFactory association.”

With clamping force of 36,000 kN, the ENGEL v-duo 3600 is the largest machine in its series. One machine in the same clamping force class is installed at BMW’s Landshut factory, where large structural components of FRP composites are manufactured using the HP-RTM process. To ensure the machine can be deployed with maximum flexibility for various research purposes, the ENGEL v-duo 3600 for Wolfsburg will be fitted with two injection units. In addition to this, lightweight construction solutions can be combined with further injection molding technologies.

ENGEL developed its v-duo series specifically for FRP. In contrast to the presses conventionally used in such applications, ENGEL vertical machines have a relatively small footprint. The height and weight of the machines are much lower, which reduces the foundation building overhead. The clamping unit can be accessed from all four sides instead of just two; thanks to very high rigidity and the outstanding parallelism of the mold mounting platens, it guarantees the precision casting of even fine structures. Since the ENGEL v-duo operates without a hydraulic accumulator and instead works with the servohydraulic ENGEL ecodrive as standard, the machine is also setting new standards of energy efficiency in the field of FRP.