JEC Innovation Award 2020 for development made in Upper Austria

Fill and Engel have been recognized for their joint development of a production line to manufacture bespoke semi-finished fiber-composite products in high volumes.

Fill Machine Engineering and Engel Austria are delighted to receive the prestigious JEC Innovation Award 2020. In close collaboration and utilizing their respective core areas of expertise, they developed a production line for manufacturing custom semi-finished fiber-composite products. The high level of integration and automation of the innovative solution enables the highest quality with excellent cost-effectiveness, thereby facilitating the large-scale production of thermoplastic composite components. Due to coronavirus, the award was presented in the course of an online ceremony on May 13, 2020. The annual JEC Innovation Award honors the most innovative composites projects worldwide.

Gurten, May 26th 2020 – Customer-specific semi-finished fiber-composite products are employed to enable optimum utilization of the full lightweight construction potential of components. In order to construct these semi-finished products with a thermoplastic matrix efficiently, a tape-laying cell and a consolidation unit have been combined in an automated production line. With this fully integrated system technology, high-performance components can be produced in the injection molding cycle with integrated glass or carbon fibers appropriate for the load path. The high production efficiency and product quality impressed the international jury of the JEC Innovation Award.

Consolidation unit based on heating-cooling principle
A significant process step in the highly automated production line is consolidation of the laid and pre-joined semi-finished products. The Fill team collaborated with Engel Austria in developing a system utilizing a two-stage process. The preformed semi-finished products are placed on molds and transported automatically into the unit. In the first stage, an electric heating plate heats the semi-finished products to 350 degrees Celsius (optionally up to 450 degrees Celsius). The force applied is precisely controlled to minimize fiber displacement. In the second stage, cooling is performed by a water-cooled press plate, whereby the cooling pressure is adjustable up to 10 bar for high-temperature composites. Based on the subsequent organmelt process from Engel, where the semi-finished products are formed and functionalized, the Fill consolidation unit is available in two sizes.

Award for the most innovative composites projects
Every year the JEC Group recognizes the internationally most innovative projects in the composite materials sector with the JEC Innovation Award. The evaluation criteria employed by the jury include technological excellence and originality, market potential, and collaboration between different players in the value chain. The prestigious awards were presented on May 13, 2020 in the course of a ceremony held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Corporate data
Fill is a leading international machine and plant manufacturing company serving diverse branches of industry. The family-owned business excels in the use of the latest technology and methods in management, communication, and production. Business operations encompass the fields of metal, plastics and wood for the automotive, aviation, sport, and building industries. The company is the global market and innovation leader in aluminum core removal technology, casting technology, wood bandsaw technology, as well as in ski and snowboard production machines. Andreas Fill and Wolfgang Rathner are joint CEOs of the company founded in 1966 that is still completely family-owned and now has more than 920 employees. In 2019, the company recorded sales of around 169 million euros.

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