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Electromobility, autonomous driving, connectivity and car-sharing are among the major trends that are set to fundamentally change demands on vehicles and consequently on how they are manufactured in the coming decade. All the speakers and guests at ENGEL trend.scaut 2017 agreed on one thing: that it will only be possible to meet the new challenges successfully if companies at every stage of the value chain start to work together even more closely. “Today we think in composite materials and electronic functionalisation of components, in highly integrated manufacturing processes and closed material cycles. For very different technologies to work together in the best possible way, from the raw materials through processing and to later recycling, it is important that we increasingly combine our know-how beyond company boundaries,” stresses Michael Fischer, Head of Business Development Technologies at ENGEL AUSTRIA.
The speeches and panel discussions on the first day of the event in the Design Center in Linz also reflected this interdisciplinary approach. The speakers came from Audi and Volvo, Sabic, BASF and voestalpine Metal Forming, Kreisel Electric and ENGEL, Magna, Continental and Yanfeng, McKinsey and LMC, among others.
The second day of the event in the ENGEL large-scale machine manufacturing plant in St. Valentin had a very practical focus. Interior components, instrument panel carriers and composite components were produced in five highly integrated and automated production cells. Together with its partners, ENGEL used these parts to demonstrate innovative technologies that have great future potential. DecoJect, in-situ polymerisation, highly automated HP-RTM or injection-compression moulding – all the example applications showed how the highest standards of component quality and stability can be combined with great efficiency for automotive series production. In lightweight construction in particular, cost pressure is one of the biggest drivers behind the development of new processes. The Engel Center for Lightweight Composite Technologies on the company’s site in St. Valentin is working to reduce the time it takes to introduce innovative technologies on the market. A good example is in-situ polymerisation of ε-caprolactam to produce thermoplastic fibre-reinforced carrier structures with subsequent functionalisation by injection moulding. With the automated production cell presented during the event, ENGEL and its partners have created the basis for automotive series production. “We are ready,” confirms Peter Egger, Devision Manager of the Center for Lightweight Composite Technologies. “We now expect the automobile manufacturers to develop trust in the new technology. trend.scaut 2017 has gone a good way in making that happen.”
During the automotive conference, ENGEL took the opportunity to open its new production hall on the St. Valentin site to visitors for the first time. An additional 4100 square metres of production space have been created in the south of the premises. A tour of the large-scale machine production plant also gave the guests an exclusive glimpse of the next stages of the expansion. In winter 2017/18, construction will begin on a new office building and an even bigger customer technology centre. In the course of this work, more space will also be created for the Center for Lightweight Composite Technologies. “Investment in our large-scale machine manufacturing plant reflects the growing demand above all from the auto industry,” remarks Franz Füreder, Vice President of the Automotive Business Unit at ENGEL AUSTRIA. “It means that we will be able to make new developments available even faster than before.”
Since 2009, the injection moulding machine manufacturer ENGEL has regularly invited the automotive and its supplier industry to trend.scaut, and for the past three years the conference has alternated between different continents. The next dates are 2018 in Shanghai, China, and 2019 in Detroit, USA, before it will return in 2020 to be hosted in Austria.