News from the Kautex Technikum
In this edition of the K-News, we’re not just looking back 80 years at the industry’s history but we’ll also be looking into the future. What trends are shaping the markets, what are the engineers at Kautex Maschinenbau working on and which new products and innovations can the customers already look forward to? Taking a look at Kautex-Technikum will provide a better insight.
Automotive trend: Suction blowing
A trend within the automotive sector, which should not be overlooked, is the downsizing of engines with simultaneous turbo charge. Hence, there is an increased demand for air ducts for the engine intake tract. These are still made from rubber and/or aluminum, however, this is increasingly being replaced by engineering thermoplastics. The suction blowing process is ideal for manufacturing these components. The parts manufactured during the suction blow process have an evenly distributed wall thickness and have no welding seams. This process is great for the OEM as it provides both weight and cost savings.
Engineering thermoplastics materials such as TPE, TPC, PA6, PA66 and PPS can be used in the suction blowing process. They are more suited to the temperature and pressure requirements in the engine compartment and can balance out the movements between the chassis and the engine. Kautex Maschinenbau is currently developing a machine that is especially oriented toward the suction blow process. However, existing extrusion blow molding machines can also be converted to the suction blow process with a retrofit modernization. An example of this is the converted KB25, which was exhibited at Chinaplas in 2015.
Packaging trend: Transparency
In recent years, the demand for transparent materials which can be used in extrusion blow molding (EBM), has been increasing. The leading process of injection stretch blow molding (ISBM) is reaching its limits with regards design freedom. There are still no solutions on the horizon.
The extrusion blow molding process can offer the following options:
• Production of bottles with handles
• Bottles with an angled neck
• Off-center necks
• Coextrusion with several functional layers
During the past months, materials from a total of six different raw material producers were tested on a KCC10S at the Kautex Technikum. Final measures for optimal extrusion equipment as well as process engineering parameters were developed. Products with very good mechanical properties were able to be produced from these processed materials and they comply with the specifications in the drop test in terms of the design. The Kautex experts analyzed every individual case together with the customer and came up with a solution. It is possible to retrofit existing machines.
Qualification of technical staff
With regards the area of process engineering, there is an increasing lack of qualified personnel in both the new and established markets. In addition to the training programs developed by Kautex that have been successful for years, the Technikum is also developing user oriented practical training programs, which are carried out by experienced process engineers at the machines. The training programs that began as internal training measures will be offered to Kautex customers in the second half of the year.
When looking ahead toward the future, the director of the Technikum, Markus Holbach, is optimistic that the further development of materials and machine technology will ensure that extrusion blow molding will remain attractive and it will be used in new sectors. In order to further develop ideas independently from day-to-day production and test them, the Kautex-Technikum, with its equipment and experienced process engineers, is available to all its customers.