PHOTO: More than a conference - The talks and presentations at Engel’s automotive conference were accompanied by an automobile and partner exhibition in the Design Centre in Linz, Austria
THE list of attendees at the Engel trend.scaut 2017 read like a who’s who of the international automobile industry. More than 500 development and production managers, managing directors and market analysts attended the two-day conference at the end of June in Linz and St. Valentin, Austria, where they discussed trends and challenges, presented new technologies and shared their visions for the future. Trend.scaut is one of the leading network meetings for decision-makers in the auto industry.
Electromobility, autonomous driving, connectivity and car-sharing are among the major trends that are set to fundamentally change demands on vehicles and consequently on how they are manufactured in the coming decade. It was unanimous that it will only be possible to meet the new challenges successfully if companies at every stage of the value chain start to work together even more closely.
“Today we think in composite materials and electronic functionalisation of components, in highly integrated manufacturing processes and closed material cycles. For very different technologies to work together in the best possible way, from the raw materials through processing and to later recycling, it is important that we increasingly combine our know-how beyond company boundaries,” stressed Michael Fischer, head of business development technologies at Engel Austria.
New technologies ready for series production
At Engel’s large-scale machine manufacturing plant in St. Valentin the conference took a very practical focus. Interior components, instrument panel carriers and composite components were produced in five highly integrated and automated production cells.
DecoJect, in-situ polymerisation, highly automated HP-RTM or injection-compression moulding – all the applications showed how the highest standards of component quality and stability can be combined with great efficiency for automotive series production. In lightweight construction in particular, cost pressure is one of the biggest drivers behind the development of new processes. The Engel Centre for Lightweight Composite Technologies on the company’s site in St. Valentin is working to reduce the time it takes to introduce innovative technologies on the market.
A good example is in-situ polymerisation of ε-caprolactam to produce thermoplastic fibre-reinforced carrier structures with subsequent functionalisation by injection moulding. With the automated production cell presented during the event, Engel and its partners have created the basis for automotive series production.
More capacity for auto
During the conference, Engel took the opportunity to open its new production hall on the St. Valentin site to visitors for the first time. An additional 4100m2 of production space have been created in the south of the premises. Later this year construction will also begin on a new office building and an even bigger customer technology centre. In the course of this work, more space will also be created for the Center for Lightweight Composite Technologies.
Since 2009, the injection moulding machine manufacturer ENGEL has regularly invited the automotive and its supplier industry to trend.scaut, and for the past three years the conference has alternated between different continents. The next dates are 2018 in Shanghai, China, and 2019 in Detroit, USA, before it will return in 2020 to be hosted in Austria.