Fiber Dynamics invests in KraussMaffei DCIM system 

Fiber Dynamics Inc is moving into thermoplastic injection molding and direct compounding by investing in a GX 1100-4300 DCIM (Direct Compounding Injection Molding) machine from KraussMaffei.

Wichita, Kansas, USA-based Fiber Dynamics develops and manufactures highly complex articles from composite materials. Customers come from a wide range of industries, including aerospace, defense and automotive. When designing the right solution, the focus is not only on component-specific properties such as weight reduction or higher strength through integrated structures, but also increasingly on economic arguments such as the elimination of secondary assembly processes, a higher degree of automation and shorter cycle times.

The decision to use DCIM technology was made shortly after the company’s  initial contact with KraussMaffei. At the time, Fiber Dynamics needed to expand production and faced an even greater challenge with the production of propeller blades for the advanced air mobility market.

The existing Lost Core Tooling System (LCTS) solution was taking too long, had formulation limitations and was too costly using traditional methods. Injection molding was an obvious solution, but producing the proprietary and highly customized formulations posed an additional challenge. "KraussMaffei was able to quickly understand our problem and offer us a unique solution with its DCIM technology. In addition, KraussMaffei was able to demonstrate and implement the solution quickly," said Darrin Teeter, CEO of Fiber Dynamics.

"The ability to test a variety of different formulations and quickly develop new ones is crucial to the success of our program. Externally compounded formulations are generally not practical for our work and jeopardize the proprietary nature of our solutions," explained Teeter.

An important partner in this project is the NIAR (National Institute for Aviation Research) Institute ATLAS (Advanced Technologies Lab for Aerospace Systems) also located in Wichita, Kansas. Since mid-2023, ATLAS has been operating a GX 450-1400 from KraussMaffei in its 150,000 sq m research pilot plant, which is also designed for the FiberForm and ColorForm processes.

"When we discovered the potential to produce our LCTS materials by thermoplastic injection molding, we were able to use the laboratory machine at ATLAS to carry out important validation processes,” said Teeter. “The results were excellent, so we quickly decided to purchase the DCIM system."

The GX 1100-4300 DCIM system with a clamping force of 11,000 KN is scheduled to start production in Wichita in May. Initially, it will produce tooling mandrels for composites articles in aircraft, such as propeller blades, wings and landing gears. Fiber Dynamics also sees great future potential for DCIM technology in the automotive and sporting goods industries.