Romeo RIM installs world’s largest long fibre injection moulding machine

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The new press and LFI line was recently unveiled during an event at Romeo RIM’s facility, located north of Detroit.

The new machine is a 400 ton, 12 ft x 12 ft double shuttle press. A fully automated system, it will ensure consistency in production of all components. It will also robotically in-mould paint parts.

The design and installation of the press was a collaborative effort between Romeo RIM, materials supplier Bayer MaterialScience LLC and equipment maker KraussMaffei.

KraussMaffei, inventor of the LFI process, designed and manufactured the press, and served as general contractor for the project. Bayer MaterialScience, which has a long-standing working relationship with Romeo RIM, applied its expertise in polyurethane chemistry to the project, fine-tuning reaction times to help create the best parts possible using the press.

Long fibre injection (LFI)

LFI is a proven process for producing large, strong and lightweight parts. Its benefits include:

  • the ability to utilise lower-cost fibreglass rovings, rather than mats; and
  • the ability to use either a foamed or solid polyurethane formulation.

During the LFI process, long glass fibres are injected along with polyurethane resin in a one-step process. A fibreglass chopper is attached to the polyurethane dispensing mixhead, which is attached to a robot. The robot is programmed to move over the open mould cavity while simultaneously dispensing both the long glass fibres and the polyurethane resin in an open-pour method. At the end of the pour, the mould is closed, and the part is formed.

A sprayable in-mould coating results in a painted, Class A, surface straight out of the mould.

Large, Class A surface LFI parts that can be produced with the new press are well suited for a number of applications, including agricultural, building and construction, mass transit and heavy trucks.

“Customers that typically were forced to use steel, sheet moulding compound (SMC) and aluminium now have a cost-effective and lighter alternative to parts made from these traditional materials,” says Paul Condeelis, vice president of Business Development, Romeo RIM Inc.