Ann, thanks for this article. This is a cool process! I can see why simulation of the molded part properties was an important part of the project, since the size, distribution, and orientation of the fibers will be different in the thermoformed areas as compared to the injection molded areas. One slight drawback is that the most reinforcement ends up in the areas which are geometrically easiest to thermoform, not necessarily the areas where the most reinforcement is needed. But still, this is a promising new process. With regard to a discussion going on in another thread, it's interesting to note that the German government supported this development.
By uniting injection molding and thermoforming into one processes, I assume the big benefit to manufacturers is reduced cost. Are there other benefits to producing complex automotive components in this manner?
Linear guides are one of the most important components required for the design of automated or computer-controlled equipment. Aluminum profile extrusions, used for these guides, can enable designed-in functional features.
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