Automotive components as dash insulator, carpets, underbody shields or wheel arch can be manufactured not only with polyurethane. A valid alternative is the thermoplastic felt.
What is thermoplastic felt?
The thermoplastic felt is a combination of textile fibres mixed with thermoplastic fibres or powder to give rigidity. Automotive parts made with this technology present good strength and stiffness, heat-resistance (with Aluminum inserts) and impact-resistance. At the same time, this solution led the overall weight of the car lighter.
A Canadian producer of automotive components utilizes the thermoplastic felt to shape vehicle acoustic parts without polyurethane foam. In particular, for the production of front and rear wheel arches, this customer was looking for a new production line which allowed him to obtain greater flexibility and innovation in production process, maintaining the high quality of the product.
For this customer, Cannon Ergos has proposed a very innovative solution, completely different from that offered by the competitors. Specifically, Cannon Ergos provided a thermoforming system with two heaters, thought to shape thermoplastic felt and also the SymaLITE, a lightweight composite (Light Weight Reinforced Thermoplastic).
The innovative thermoforming machine process:
A felt sheet of the required size is obtained through an unwinding and cutting automated system. A carrier leads the sheet into a contact oven, where the lower and upper heated plates close, coming into contact with the felt and heating it up.
Lateral grippers take the hot sheet and bring it into the second step oven, an infrared (IR) one, which further heats the felt. Grippers then accompany the hot sheet into the press, where it is formed.
Once the piece has been moulded, a robot unloads it and places it on the loading table of a waterjet, which will eliminate burrs and excess material parts.
At the end of the process, the same robot will pick up the finished part and will place it on a dedicated unloading table.
Moreover, thanks to the Cannon Ergos automation system, every process phase will be controllable and manageable in absolute safety.
Key elements and goals achieved with the new Cannon automated system:
There are some key elements in this project that are worth highlighting:
- Flexibility: this has been the principal customer request. The plant must proceed both the thermoplastic felt and the SymaLITE. This is the reason why Cannon Ergos has develop the plant with two ovens, granting the possibility properly heat up materials which feature different behavior during heating.
- Automation: the plant is completely automated. An Allen-Bradley automation system allows the total control and management of the forming line. Cannon Ergos is able to develop automation plant based both on Siemens and Allen-Bradley.
- Local presence: Cannon US local unit has been a fundamental partner during the whole process of acquisition and management of the customer. Furthermore, the proximity (a few hours drive) of Cannon USA to the site where the plant will be started allows the customer to receive an immediate support.
Cannon Ergos provided the customer with an innovative thermoforming machine line completely tailored on its requests: thanks to this plant, the customer has increased its productivity, being able to produce an automotive component in less than a minute.