In the past, German blow molding machinery manufacturer Kautex Maschinenbau was reliant on the auto sector for 60–70% of its business. Now, with a downturn in the auto sector increasingly apparent in China in particular, and the auto industry also committed to transitioning away from internal combustion engine (ICE) cars to electric and hybrid electric vehicles (EVs/HEVs) in the medium to long term, the company is implementing a strategy to increase its presence in the packaging sector and develop alternative storage modes for new energy vehicles (NEVs).
|Kautex’s Lichtenauer: “New solutions for post-consumer recyclate processing will be on show at K.|
Kautex continues to develop wound composite fuel tanks for vehicles with working pressures up to 800 bar, while it debuted a six-layer extruder head for blow-molded barrier packaging applications developed and manufactured at its facility in Shunde, China that debuted at the recent Chinaplas show.
All is not lost for conventional fuel tanks, however. Explains Kautex managing director Andreas Lichtenauer, “Hybrid vehicles use fuel tanks with more demanding technical requirements, and more sophisticated production equipment is required, so while the number of machines we ship may decreases, the average unit price will increase.” Kautex offers C3LS twin-sheet technology for fuel tanks employed in low emission vehicles, for example, which is retrofittable to existing blow molding machines.
In the CNG composite fuel tank field, meanwhile, Kautex says it can now deliver carbon fiber wound tanks with pressure ratings up to 800 bar. Kautex has already delivered 200-bar, 200-liter CNG tanks to a Russian customer, while the 800-bar composite tank was developed as a prototype for a South Korean OEM several years back.
The six-layer extrusion head for packaging applications is rated at a 15–50-kg/hour throughput with a layer configuration of 25%/2%/3%/2%/53%/15%. “Minimizing the thickness of the EVOH barrier later to 3% of the overall thickness, or 2 microns, for a long shelf-life HDPE refrigerated milk bottle while maintaining barrier layer integrity is a key attributed of the extruder head according to Kautex.
Looking forward to the K Show, Lichtenauer says visitors can expect to see a blow molding machine that can mold bottles from 100% recycled material without compromising on quality with weight savings to boot. Another focus at K will be digital solutions for preventative and remote maintenance.