Engel's auto solutions drive NPE presence

Highlighting its expertise as a system solution provider, Engel (Schwertberg, Austria) will show two auto-related, highly integrated and automated manufacturing cells at the upcoming NPE 2012 show in Orlando, Florida this April.

Mark down West Hall, booth 943, for a display of automotive innovation at the NPE headed by the vision of a vehicle interior without buttons and switches. Visitors to the show can even take a seat in Engel's automotive cockpit of the future. Various control functions can be activated through the center console in the simulation cell, which Engel is presenting in cooperation with Magna Exterior & Interior Systems (Munich, Germany). All that's required is a light touch to one of the functional elements below the completely enclosed surface.

Magna Exterior automotive cockpit
Engel's NPE2012 booth will feature the automotive cockpit of the future, favoring sensors to buttons and switches.

Thanks to Engel clearmelt technology and the integration of a capacitive foil using in-mold labeling, vehicle controls will be just as elegant as smartphone controls in the future. "This trend not only gives interior designers a new level of freedom; it also reduces the costs of producing functional elements," states Mark Sankovitch, president of Engel North America (York, PA). "We are already talking to various OEMs and automotive companies. In four to five years the first vehicles will be equipped with this sensitive surface technology," adds Franz Füreder, Head of Engel automotive.

Center consoles with a sensitive surface will be manufactured in the Engel booth on an Engel duo 2050/350 injection molding machine. This is the first showing of this new machine size in North America, which brings the power of duo large-scale machines - maximum power on a small footprint - to the lower clamp force range.

Several companies, in addition to Magna, are involved as Engel system partners for this project. The mold maker is Schöfer (Schwertberg, Austria); Hennecke from (Sankt Augustin, Germany) is the exclusive project partner for polyurethane technology and the functional foils are supplied by plastic electronic GmbH (Linz, Austria).

One-step hollow parts

Engel's Technical Business Unit is also focusing on the auto sector with a compact tie-bar-less Engel victory 1050H/500W/220 US combi injection machine outfitted with a Multitube mold system from Pernoud (Oyonnax, France) and a fully integrated six-axis-robot. The cell can produce complex three-component hollow parts in a single processing step.

To produce a sample part like the iintake manifold for a three-cylinder engines, threaded bushings are first insert-placed into the mold and over-molded. This pre-molded part is then rotated in the mold by an Engel easix robot for injection of the second component, before the third component -- a TPE seal -- is applied. The victory machine is equipped with a piggyback unit and a third small injection unit to support multiple component injection molding. The finished component is removed by the multiple axis robot and deposited on an integrated conveyor belt. The process eliminates the need for finishing processes such as welding.

Because the robot works inside the extended safety guarding, the production cell requires only a relatively small footprint. Compared to legacy gas injection technology, the Multitube concept also ensures enhanced quality of the interior surfaces and consistent wall thicknesses.-[email protected]

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