Compression moulding GFR-PU composite materials: aesthetic lightweight parts for series production

Source: Cannon Group Reading Time: 2 min

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At JEC World 2023, Cannon Afros showcased its Interwet Long Fiber Injection (LFI) technology for the internal co-injection mixing process of polyurethane (PU) formulations which can be reinforced with a wide range of fibers.

Section of bus rear end part interior
Section of bus rear end part interior
(Source: Cannon Group)

The Interwet-LFI technology from Cannon was developed to produce compression molded automotive structural parts reinforced with glass fiber roving as an alternative to production processes based on glass mats or chopped glass fiber pre-blended with polyol.

The novel aspect of this technology lies in the thorough wetting of the glass fiber roving, using a special internal co-injection mixing concept. A vacuum draws glass fiber roving into a chopper placed on top of a specially modified, proprietary Free Pouring Laminar SR L-shaped high-pressure mixing head, and again, using a vacuum, the chopped long or short glass fibers are sucked inside the mixing chamber and wetted with the polyurethane formulation producing a homogeneous dispersion, hence the process the company calls Interwet.

Based in the Czech Republic, Ecos Chocen, a family-owned business founded in 1990, has mastered a very diverse range of engineering and manufacturing processes over the years for both metals and polymeric materials coupled with cataphoresis in preparation for powder and wet painting of various commercial vehicle components, such as chassis and body exterior panels. The future direction of the company’s activities was established following a successful collaboration in the early 2000s for the development and production of a prototype series of front and rear-end panels for a major Dutch manufacturer of buses. Ecos Chocen, which gained IATF 16949:2016 accreditation, today specialises in the manufacture and production of components and entire assembly units for the automotive industry with a particular focus on commercial vehicles, especially buses, coaches, and trucks.

“We partnered with Cannon to achieve an ambitious goal to produce complex semi-structural and structural glass fiber reinforced polyurethane exterior body components in a one-step process using their unique Interwet-LFI technology, which combines in-mold coating for an excellent surface aesthetic ready for painting,” said Jiri Kutlvasr, Executive Manager of Ecos Chocen. “Cannon delivered a turnkey solution for the Interwet-LFI process including dosing unit machines and mixing heads, molds and presses and robotic process automation that bring high quality and facilitate and increase repeatability and overall productivity.”

Cannon states that the interest in the structural properties achievable with Interwet-LFI technology and process is attracting the attention of OEMs fabricating exterior panels for electric vehicles (EVs) in the burgeoning pursuit of lightweighting.


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