Schuler to present lightweight construction ways at JEC

February 20, 2020 - Germany

Schuler will present latest developments in the area of lightweight construction with composite materials and economic and reliable production solutions for high volume manufacturing at the JEC World, the leading show for composites, in Paris. This includes energy-efficient press with short pressure build-up time for production of thermoplastic parts.

The high-volume production of composite parts still faces several challenges. Thanks to short cycle times, thermoplastics are well suited for higher output rates. Additionally, thermoplastics are easy to recycle and therefore support a sustainable and resource-saving production. Schuler will showcase its energy-efficient press with short pressure build-up time for the production of thermoplastic parts. This press ensures high quality, as well as high output rates for an economical production utilising D-LFT, GMT and other processes.

Composite materials such as carbon fibre reinforced plastics are still used sparingly in lightweight automotive engineering, and have not yet made the leap into high volume series production. The manufacturing costs for parts made of carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) are too high. Within the research project “iComposite 4.0”, Schuler and its partners have succeeded in reducing the costs by more than 50 per cent and throughput times by more than 40 per cent. An integrative and self-regulating production system for high volumes utilising a hybrid material approach was developed for this purpose. This will also be showcased by the company.

With a press capacity of 16,000 tons and a clamping surface of more than 6 metre length and almost 4 metre width Schuler currently designs the biggest composite press in the world. The press system is dedicated to process thermoplastic material. One of Schuler’s important strengths.

The Schuler compact press is a flexible, energy-saving press for the forming of fibre-reinforced plastics. It has proven its worth in the forming of thermoplastics like GMT and thermoset applications such as SMC, HP-RTM and wet compression molding all over the world. Short pressure build-up times ensure high quality and output for thermoplastic forming.

At the same time, the precise parallelism control system makes sure, that material is evenly distributed within the die during the HP-RTM process for a consistently high quality of parts. Minimal parts rejection for all processes can be realised by a part specific adaptive machine bending feature. Therefore, the Schuler compact press is equally suitable for thermoplastic, thermoset and hybrid forming.

Sheet Molding Compound is already being used for decades due to it economical part production for medium size series and material characteristics. High surface quality, low density and high fire resistance are examples of the properties. The SMC technology is currently undergoing a new success. Further improvements in the cost and lightweight potential are supporting the growth of advanced SMC. Different developments are taking place at the same time with Carbon SMC and improved material characterisation methods.