Lightweighting design showcased at Engel’s Shanghai event

The field of lightweight design can be surprisingly diverse – something that once again became clear at the Engel trend.scaut. Michael Fischer, Sales Manager Technologies at Engel says that in Asia and particularly in China, there is already a broad spectrum of lightweight design technology in use.

At the presentations held in the Shanghai City Theatre, chemical and physical foaming, injection-compression moulding, thin-walled injection moulding, glazing solutions on the basis of polycarbonate and the use of natural fibres for reinforcement, were also discussed. Sample parts were presented illustrating each kind of technology. Among others, Shuwen Liu of the Pan Asia Technical Automotive Centre (PATAC) demonstrated in his address just how innovative lightweight design can be combined with high cost-efficiency due to the diversity of processing methods and materials that are available.

His presentation was further substantiated by Conner Xue of Shenyang Minghua Mould and Plastics Technology and Horst Nonner of Porsche Engineering (Shanghai). In their talks, which both had a very practical orientation, they covered a spectrum of topics ranging from research and development to construction and serial production processes, pointing out the great potential that lightweight design technologies contain for the challenges that automobile manufacturers in Asia will face in the future.

In particular, hybrid drive technology will place new demands on the plastics processors in the coming years. In the opinion of Robert Wittenbrink of ExxonMobil, hybrid vehicles will win a greater share of the market than electric vehicles. In order to meet the energy needs of a vehicle population that is growing worldwide, it is without question that greater energy efficiency is needed – a point that Wittenbrink illustrated very vividly in his energy outlook for the year 2040.

Aside from Liu and Xue, other experts in the panel included Robert Wittenbrink, Jochen Siebert of JSC Automotive, Zhenwei Zhang of EDAG Engineering and Design (Shanghai) and Peter Egger, Director of the Centre for Lightweight Composite Technologies from Engel Austria The panel discussion revealed that Engel had precisely met a real need for information among the plastics processors in China and Asia with the topic of lightweight design.

On the second day of the event, more than 100 attendees participated in the factory tour to see the large-size machine plant in Shanghai. There they got to see Engel’s strict quality standards, as well as the flexibility that the machine manufacturer can offer its customers in Asia due to the decentralised production. Engel is the only western injection moulding machine manufacturer with three production plants in Asia. This means short delivery times and ensures that Engel can also adapt its injection moulding machines and system solutions flexibly to the specific local requirements of its customers in Asia.

Engel also hosted the automotive conference in Asia for the first time as part of thetrend.scaut. Franz Füreder, Vice President of Engel automotive, describes the very positive conclusion drawn from the event. "China is rapidly becoming more important as a production location for international automobile companies. We were able to discuss the specific requirements in Asia individually on location here in this dynamic environment. The automotive industry is a very international industry, but each region still presents its own unique challenges for the producers and their suppliers."

The next trend.scaut in Asia will be held in 2018. Prior to that, the automobile industry will meet in the US in the coming year at the first trend.scaut for the North American market, and in 2017, the automotive conference will again take place in Austria.


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