ENGEL duo for Composite Research at NCC in Bristol

December 03 2018

Composite lightweight construction based on thermoplastics promises more efficient manufacturing processes and the recycling of obsolete components. Until the innovative materials and processes are used on a large scale some challenges still need to be solved and more experience needs to be gained. The National Composites Centre (NCC) in Bristol, UK, has set itself both these goals. An integrated manufacturing cell for overmolding fiber-reinforced semi-finished products from ENGEL is paving the way for mass production in both automotive and aerospace industries.

The NCC currently comprises 17,500 square meters with state-of-the-art manufacturing cells for a wide variety of composite technologies. More than 220 engineers and scientists employed there work closely with the University of Bristol, many other universities worldwide and above all with the industry. Companies – not only from the UK – use the capacities for their own development projects. "We are continuously comparing our roadmap with that of the automotive manufacturers," says Gallen. "The increased use of thermoplastic materials in lightweight composite construction is high on both agendas."

There are two main driving forces behind this development: "On the one hand, thermoplastic matrix materials enable efficient further processing of semi-finished products in an injection molding machine and functionalization with materials from the same material group in a fully integrated, automated process," explains Christian Wolfsberger, Business Development Manager Composite Technologies at ENGEL's headquarters in Schwertberg, Austria. "Process integration and automation are the prerequisites for achieving the unit costs required by the high-volume automotive industry. On the other hand, thermoplastic composites simplify the subsequent recycling of components, which is in line with the trend towards circular economy."

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