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Engel's virtual and physical presence in Shanghai will highlight optical applications for automotive.

Stephen Moore

March 11, 2022

3 Min Read
LED structure
Engel has developed a new plasticizing process specifically for acrylic resin processing to ensure high luminous efficiency for long LED structures. It is on show at Chinaplas on an Engel victory injection molding machine.Image courtesy of Engel

China remains essentially closed to outside visitors. Hence, the 2022 edition of Chinaplas in Shanghai from 25 to 28 April will be the second in a row to welcome almost entirely local attendees.

Personal contacts always have been and always will be important — as was confirmed by the first face-to-face events in 2021 after two entire years of the Corona pandemic. Even though the pandemic has shown in the past few months that digital formats work very well, and even offer advantages in certain areas, Engel believes the future is hybrid. For this reason, the machine builder has established a virtual showroom where more than 20 machine exhibits with challenging applications are waiting to be explored.

At Chinaplas, Engel is building a bridge between the physical and virtual trade fair world. Tradeshow visitors can use large touchscreens to access the virtual exhibits. "This means that, in Shanghai, we are exhibiting the widest range of applications, machines, and system solutions that we have ever shown at Chinaplas," says Gero Willmeroth.

Transparent auto applications

Whether for headlamps, front panels with integrated sensors or displays, in the vehicle interior or exterior, applications employing transparent materials that meet exacting optical requirements are increasing. With a wide spectrum of technologies and a wealth of experience with optimelt and glazemelt technologies, Engel develops production solutions suited for all types of transparent parts. At Chinaplas, the company will demonstrate what this can look like in practical terms by manufacturing polycarbonate outer lenses for vehicle headlamps on an Engel duo 5160/800 injection molding machine with an integrated Engel easix articulated robot.

polycarbonate outer lens

Outer lenses for vehicle headlamps pose strict requirements in terms of surface detail. At Chinaplas, Engel is deploying a duo dual-platen injection molding machine featuring smart assistance systems for this application.

With a wall thickness of 1.8 mm and length of more than 800 mm, the part poses strict requirements in terms of surface detail. Smart assistance systems from the Engel inject 4.0 program supplement the precision of the duo machine's movements. While iQ weight control keeps the injected melt volume consistent from shot to shot, iQ clamp control determines the optimum clamping force for the mold, thus avoiding burn marks and flash.

Process technology for optical purity

LEDs are becoming increasingly versatile in vehicles, and now are often added as distinctive design elements. The level of variation in their shape is growing accordingly, creating new challenges for optical-fiber manufacturers. Engel has developed a new plasticizing process specifically for acrylic resin processing to ensure luminous efficiency, also for use cases involving complex geometries and long structures. The principle of starve-feeding is decisive from a technological standpoint. It allows the plasticizing screw to be only partially filled with pellets in the intake zone, which, in turn, reduces the shear load of the melt. In this way, melt homogeneity and purity can be improved.

Engel is demonstrating the huge potential of the new processing technology by producing light guides of different lengths and curvatures in a family mold by Oerlikon hrsflow on an Engel victory 320/120 injection molding machine with an integrated Engel viper 20 linear robot. Thanks to tie-bar-less technology, the large family mold fits on a relatively small injection molding machine. The robot can reach the cavities directly from the side without needing to work around interfering edges, which shortens handling time.

About the Author(s)

Stephen Moore

Stephen has been with PlasticsToday and its preceding publications Modern Plastics and Injection Molding since 1992, throughout this time based in the Asia Pacific region, including stints in Japan, Australia, and his current location Singapore. His current beat focuses on automotive. Stephen is an avid folding bicycle rider, often taking his bike on overseas business trips, and is a proud dachshund owner.

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