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Check out our video on automated one-step overmolding of C/PEEK!

The ThermoPlastic composites Research Center (TPRC) performs automated one-step overmolding process for C/PEEK in the framework of the COMPeTE project.

Overmolding of thermoplastic composites combines the strength and stiffness of a press formed composite laminate with the geometrical stiffness and design freedom of an injection molded polymer. The net-shape manufacturing process is well suited for automated large series production of complex 3D structures with excellent structural performance and a high level of function integration. The interface strength and dimensional accuracy were studied by the TPRC in the COMPeTE project, which was a two year collaboration between the members of TPRC and partners from both automotive and aerospace industry. Moreover, a grid stiffened panel was developed that represents features of aero engine parts. The panel consist of a composite laminate (Toray Cetex® TC1225 engineered PAEK) which is overmolded with a 40% short carbon fiber filled PEEK polymer (Victrex® PEEK90HMF40).

The video shows a one-step overmolding process, where press forming and injection molding are combined into a single process on a KraussMaffei KM160/750CX. A 6-axis KUKA robot is used for automated handling of the flat composite laminate, which is heated to a temperature above the melting temperature in a Krelus infrared oven. Subsequently, the melted laminated is transferred to the tooling in less than 6 seconds to minimize convective heat losses. An in-house developed blank retaining system takes over the melted blank from the robot, whereafter the tooling closes. The laminate is formed and overmolded in a mold system that was developed in cooperation with Doeko. The manufactured part is overmolded net-shape and, therefore, no edge trimming operation is required afterwards.

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