We find ourselves in the year 2016.
With VISIONARY THINKING, TECHNOLOGICAL COURAGE, and a DEDICATED DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY consisting of Fill, Hofmann, Krelus, Neue Materialien Bayreuth, and Schenck Process Europe, it has become possible to create solutions that are out of this world.
With a strong passion for particle foam, FOX Velution beams us through previously unimagined STEAMLESS PROCESSING METHODS to NEW WORLDS OF LIGHTWEIGHT CONSTRUCTION.
This relief postcard made of expanded polystyrene (EPS) is the first demonstration of an interdisciplinary joint development aimed at 100% steamless processing and ‘in-situ’ functionalization of all types of thermoplastic particle foam.
Based on graphite-pigmented micro-pellets of a commercial grade of polystyrene, foam beads with a vastly reduced bulk density are first produced on a continuous line in just a few seconds, and without any need for water. The subsequent foam molding is performed with pre-positioned inserts in highly dynamic variothermal cavities, from which the dry components can be removed after cooling with zero post-processing.
Benefits of this innovative production technology are a simplified and completely steamless infrastructure, the minimizing of conditioning processes, and considerable improvements of the characteristics in regard to strength, rigidity, and insulating effect, resulting from an optimized cell structure. Beyond that, this new approach mainly scores with its integration potential.
- Decor: ‘In-process’ foamed, multicolored back-printed polystyrene film.
- Magneto legs: Neodymium magnets, refoamed and lined with the backing film.
- Reforming: Detailed forming of all elevations and depressions of the robot body, even on sharp edges (e.g. on telescope arms and grippers).
- Gloss/structuring: Exact representation of the polished (outer-space background) and laser-embossed (surfaces and the rings of the planets) mold areas without any steam nozzles that could impair the impression.
- Optics/electronics: ‘In-situ’ embedding/foaming of sensitive, active components (QI charging loop with IC and several light diodes including bare wiring) for contactless charging function and illumination effects.
Further application potential for sandwich structures is provided by the integrated processing of dry or pre-consolidated reinforcement textiles (fabric or non-woven), which can be positioned corresponding to the load spectrum, foamed, and even be firmly fused in the case of compatible compounds (e.g. EPP with PP-GF). In addition, new types of particle foam made from temperature-resistant thermoplastics such as E-PBT can be processed just as dryly as commercially available types of EPE, EPP, EPS or E-TPU.
By using application-specific material combinations ´on local demand’ a much shorter and energy-efficient production chain with high customization and automation potential, the steamless approach addresses the economic implementation of current lightweight construction trends in the areas of mobility, sports/leisure, white goods, construction, and healthcare.
The development and realization of this innovative particle foam technology has been made possible by a dedicated consortium that contributes specific expertise and tailored solutions.
- Fill Gesellschaft m.b.H., Gurten/Upper Austria: Automated special systems for series production.
- Krelus AG, Oberentfelden/Switzerland: Infra-red emitters for industrial heating processes.
- Neue Materialien Bayreuth GmbH, Bayreuth/Germany: Non-university research company for material and process development in the area of lightweight construction.
- Schenck Process Europe GmbH, Darmstadt/Germany: Weighing, metering, conveying, screening, automation, and air filtration solutions.
- Hofmann - Ihr Impulsgeber, Lichtenfels/Germany: Tools and technologies for special injection molding processes.
FOX Velution GmbH, Nuremberg/Germany, is a spin-off established in 2015. It specializes in energy-efficient production and application solutions for various materials and processes. With strong support from the mentioned partners, it operates a technical center in Lichtenfels, in which its steamless methods for the processing and ‘in-situ’ functionalization of all types of particle foam are refined and industrialized together with customers.