Dieffenbacher supplies RTM system technology to ZF Friedrichshafen AG

The development centre at ZF.
The development centre at ZF.

The application will feature light and high-strength structural components made from composite materials with a duroplastic or thermoplastic matrix.

ZF is a leading automotive supplier and is accelerating lightweight construction with fibre composite materials. The new technology centre at the Schweinfurt site is equipped with the latest mechanical engineering technology and offers the potential to accelerate development projects and produce complex, prototype-ready parts in low quantities, as well as conduct basic research. According to ZF, it has attained significant fundamental knowledge and experience of lightweight constructions over recent years, including technologies for processing fibre composite materials. The focus is on wheel carriers and transverse leaf springs in a car chassis and on four-point links in trucks. Its aim is to achieve a weight saving of between 15% and 50% for the specified components.

As a general contractor, Dieffenbacher supplies the total plant to ZF Friedrichshafen. Dieffenbacher adds that the key component is the 1000 ton press from the DCL series. This height-optimised and energy efficient upstroke press is designed for batch production of vehicle components made from long and continuous fibre-reinforced plastics.

According to Dieffenbacher, the installation provides optimal conditions for implementing pressing methods such as HP-RTM, SMC, LFT-D and organic sheet metal forming, as the integrated operating modes are also tailored to these methods. The integration of control technology in the KraussMaffei metering system produces optimum fibre impregnation, especially when processing fast-reacting resin systems.

Dieffenbacher says that it guarantees close-to-production development through automation. Preforms made from fabric carbon fibres are inserted into the press using Dieffenbacher gripper technology. The same process is used to place ‘organic sheet’ materials into a Dieffenbacher infrared oven for rapid and homogeneous heating.

The opening of the development centre at ZF Friedrichshafen AG and the transfer of the plant, which is ready for use, is the basis for implementing structural lightweight components that are ready for production.