A new quality of soft touch
Visitors to trade fairs often express the wish for more time to appreciate some exhibits – and that’s exactly what ENGEL gave its automotive industry clients with the ENGEL Varysoft Day at the start of December. The highlight of the event held in Schwertberg and St. Valentin and organised by ENGEL, Georg Kaufmann Formenbau and other partners was the manufacturing cell used to produce soft touch components under the Varysoft process. The cell was one of the most visited items on show at K 2013.
“The ENGEL Varysoft Day is a forum-type event with a particularly focused audience,” says Michael Fischer, Sales Manager (Technologies) at ENGEL AUSTRIA. “This underlines the importance of innovative soft touch technologies to the interior design of the future.” Many of the 60-plus attendees were international automobile producers and reputable supplier firms. The event enabled ENGEL to demonstrate once again its leading position in the market segment.
System partners ENGEL and Georg Kaufmann showed how Varysoft technology opens the door to highly efficient production, even in the case of very high quality soft touch components with even thicker foam layers. “Together with the Dolphin technology, we can now offer highly cost-effective solutions across the spectrum of soft touch manufacturing,” says Fischer.
Ready to install in one step
Compared to other technologies, Varysoft offers even greater softness while allowing undercuts in the component design. To achieve this, the manufacturing cell presented on Varysoft Day integrates three steps in an ENGEL duo 3550/650 pico combi M injection moulding machine. Highly automated dashboards designed by the Hyundai Kia Automotive Group are created in a single work step from a thermoplastic substrate, a decorative overlay and a layer of polyurethane foam.
The films are pre-heated in an integrated infrared oven. Parts handling is performed by an ENGEL viper 40 double linear robot and an ENGEL easix multi-axis robot, which also cuts the superfluous film with an ultrasonic cutting head. The finished parts, which are state-of-the-art in terms of surface quality, support the trend towards lightweight construction. To save material and weight, MuCell technology from Trexel is used in the manufacture of the thermoplastic components. The other system partners behind the manufacturing cell are BASF Polyurethanes, Hennecke and Herrmann Ultraschalltechnik.
On track for series production
Expert presentations on ENGEL Varysoft Day cast light on recent developments, trends and market opportunities for innovative soft touch technology from a range of perspectives. Talks were given by Michael Fischer (ENGEL AUSTRIA), Roger Kaufmann (Georg Kaufmann Concept), Kie-Moon Sung (Moltex, Korea), Sebastian Stärz (Hennecke), Arno Häuptler (BASF Polyurethanes) and Martin Wassertheurer (VTS).
“We think the first series applications will come about in around three years,” predicts Michael Fischer. “At the Varysoft Day event we showed we are not far away from series production. Our guests were impressed by the high stability and reproducibility offered by the highly integrated manufacturing cell.”