Romeo RIM in Michigan, the US, uses the world’s largest Long Fiber Injection (LFI) system from KraussMaffei with a double-shuttle mold carrier system to manufacture a two-piece roof made of polyurethane (PU) for agricultural machinery. “The good mechanical properties and the premium-quality surfaces commend the long fiber injection procedure for large-format components in many markets, and especially in the automotive and commercial vehicle industry to meet the increasing demands of the CAFC (Corporate Average Fuel Consumption) program for a lower fleet consumption,” explains Paul Condeelis, Vice President of Business Development at Romeo RIM. “KraussMaffei has been a competent partner and the only market player able to meet our requirements.”
With the enormous dimensions of approximately 2.5 x 2.1m and an area of over 5sqm, the complete two-piece roof weighs less than 23kg and meets all requirements regarding flexibility, good durability, low weight, and cost-effective manufacturing. Another contribution is the option for functional integration on the rear side, where the dome and ribs are attached.
At the center of the system is the largest mold carrier built by KraussMaffei to date, with a mold clamping area of 3,660 x 3,660mm on the molds with weights of up to 36 metric tons. The mold carrier with the dimensions 22 x 9.5 x 5m and a clamping force of 400 tons is equipped with a “two-shuttle system” which brings two bottom parts of the mold into the mold clamping unit in alternation.
While the Long Fiber Injection process and the reaction time are running in one mold, the second mold can be de-molded and be prepared for the new process. Every nine to 10 minutes, therefore, one of the two elements for the complete roof is formed in alternation. For precise component thicknesses and reproducible processes, the mold carrier is equipped with a hydraulic four-axis parallelism control, which also ensures parallel closing of the molds for asymmetric components or off-center mold clamping, explains KraussMaffei.
Two industrial robots, each of which are equipped with a Long Fiber Injection mixing head of the latest generation, are moved over the mold to put in the Long Fiber Injection mixture. Beforehand, two additional industrial robots can be used to put a layer of paint (In Mold Painting) and a barrier layer into the bottom mold, which prevents the fibers from standing out on the visible side. Consequently, completely painted components with excellent mechanical properties and premium quality surfaces are manufactured in a single pass.
The company adds that operability is provided for by a swivel device on the movable upper mold clamping platen. When a mold carrier is completely opened, the upper plate with the top mold can be swiveled out by 90°.