The in-topic of integrative plastics technology combines a good knowledge of materials with process engineering, functionalities and simulation methods. The aim is to make processes more efficient and to find new products. The Institute of Plastics Processing (IKV) at RWTH Aachen University has been working for some time now on the highly promising potential of integrative plastics technology and will again this year demonstrate new possibilities during the International Colloquium Plastics Technology.
Because expert knowledge provides the necessary basis for integrative plastics technology, IKV benefits enormously from the wide-ranging expertise it has in the fields of materials and plastics processing when it comes to combining different technologies. Taking the example of profile extrusion, three examples can be shown that demonstrate IKV's interdisciplinary knowledge and the potential of integrative plastics technology:
The design of profile extrusion dies has so far been carried out predominantly through complex iteration loops in simulation and experiment. The reasons for this are the complex rheology of the polymer and the viscoelastic swelling at the die orifice, which make it impossible to determine the ideal die geometry directly from the dimensions of the desired profile. For this reason, a fully automatic simulation environment was developed that couples the computing domains inside and outside the extrusion die with each other, and then connects them with the two optimisation steps "determine quality" and "amend geometry". In this way, it is possible to determine an ideal, free-formed die geometry for a given profile without any human intervention.
The second example is the combination of material and product properties: New functionalities for profiles can be achieved through compounds developed at IKV, which give the normally insulating plastic both thermal and electrical conductivity. A holistic view ensures that the compound has both good processing and application properties.
The InPulse process is further proof of integration. It links pultrusion with profile extrusion. Continuous fibres, the resin and the thermoplastic outer layer are combined with one another in one and the same die. The die is designed to take account of the properties of the basically different materials. The outer layer material ensures in the finished part that the resin and fibres are protected from the influence of media and also from impact stresses.
Malte Schön, M.Sc.
phone: +49 241 80-27271