According to a recent press release of Engel Austria, Sole SpA of Italy is producing cockpit covers for the new Mercedes-Benz Actros with its single process step Dolphin-method.
The production line for molded parts with soft touch surfaces, which is operated by Sole at the Daimler works premises in Wörth, Germany, is composed of an Engel duo injection molding machine with a horizontal intermediate rotary table system, a multiple-axis industry robot and equipment for physical foaming. The first series application has started in autumn.
First of all the carrier is injected and then foamed in place with thermoplastic elastomer in one total machine cycle. Engel said that is why the Dolphin-method represents an economic alternative for the production of hard/soft components in comparison to other conventional multi-component and foaming methods.
The integrated manufacturing method has been developed by Engel in cooperation with mold manufacturer Georg Kaufmann, Switzerland, as well as with material manufacturer BASF and P-Group, Germany. It was presented at the K Show 2007 together with automobile supplier Johnson Controls, Germany, back then. As said, the method is developed further with Sole and has been optimized for mass production. Besides Engel, Georg Kaufmann and P-Group are participating in the Actors project.
“The production start proceeded as planned,” said Michael Fischer, Sales Manager for Technologies at Engel. “The Dolphin-method’s potential is enormous due to the high level of process integration as well as of the high quality concerning the components’ surfaces. Negotiations with clients to start further series applications are currently in progress.”
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