Landau, 8th June 2021. Wickert Maschinenbau is transforming itself from a manufacturer of customized presses to a complete supplier for composite production. In doing so, the family-owned company is responding to the growing demand for additional services related to the planning and development of press systems.
The broad spectrum of services ranges from component development to concept and feasibility studies to overall planning and general contractor for complete production lines including turnkey solutions. Wickert wants to offer its customers a highly productive composite processing from a single source.
The composite specialist expects growth impulses from increasing production automation and the increased desire for greater plant flexibility through additional injection units. He also expects increased processing of thermoplastics and sees potential in the use of natural fibres and natural resins. In all four trends, Wickert sees itself well positioned.
Wickert integrates the complete composite production
Support is needed at the early stage of component development and through feasibility studies, as composite manufacturers sometimes lack engineering capacities, explains Steve Büchner, sales and project manager at Wickert: “Based on our experience in manufacturing, we can already give valuable tips here. ” The Palatinate mechanical engineers benefit from their many years of experience in integrating custom-made presses into composite production lines.
Meanwhile, Wickert uses this know-how to offer complete systems under its own responsibility, Büchner explains: “We know which complementary components meet our high quality standards and how we can perfectly harmonize them. ” Thanks to this knowledge, it is also possible to offer turnkey solutions to interested parties on request. An expansion of its own product portfolio was not necessary for this purpose.
Our own department develops automation and special solution concepts
Our own development department supports the planning of complete systems, which designs individual concepts for automation and special solutions. As a result, plants can be realised with a consistently automated production. “In addition, we can network presses and peripheral components with other plant participants and higher-level process control systems in the sense of a smart factory”, explains Büchner.
More flexibility in composite presses thanks to additional modules
Increasingly, the company is registering customers' desire to use composite presses flexibly for different applications. For this purpose, the presses can already be expanded with additional modules for injection processes such as RTM (Resin Transfer Molding) and RIM (Reaction Injection Molding) as well as polyurethane injection units with little effort.
Thermoplastic composites for mass production
Wickert also expects growth opportunities in view of a growing interest in the use of thermoplastic matrix systems. According to the company, the thermoplastic forming of organosheets in particular is on the rise. This enables high-precision series components to be manufactured in stable, fully automated processes – with significantly shorter cycle times than with thermosets.
Natural fibers have potential
Rather in the medium term, the composite specialists estimate the market growth for natural fibre-reinforced plastics (NFRP) such as flax, hemp, jute, sisal and kenaf as well as natural resins based on vegetable oil. In addition to the in principle infinite availability, the outstanding compostability and stable prices are important advantages compared to glass or carbon fibres. However, Büchner believes that the success of NFK depends on a broader customer acceptance. However, the production facilities are already in place, since natural materials can already be processed on Wickert presses.