AMS robot achieves breakthrough in manufacturing plastic auto parts

Nothelfer DAF 4

After successfully integrating the fully automatic robot Robomould in 15 plants in other sectors, Belgian AMS is ready to conquer the automotive world. “We aim for a market breakthrough in the use of plastics in auto parts,” says AMS CEO Johan Potargent.

Based in Bilzen, Limburg, AMS is programming the software that controls the precise operations of the robots on the production lines of the Audi Q6, Volvo V40 and V60, BMW 1, BMW mini, Mercedes Sprinter, etc. Since 2006, AMS is also a specialist in software used in setting up production lines.

Up to 1.8 million euros in R&D

AMS now has the world’s first fully automated rotational moulding machine ready for the automotive sector. With Robomould®, AMS is introducing rotational moulding for plastic parts using industrial robots together with electrical heating of the mould.

In recent years, the company has invested from 1.6 to 1.8 million euros in the machine. More R&D will be undertaken in partnership with car manufacturers.

“We are currently investigating ways to enable our machine to produce the AdBlue tanks which will soon be compulsory in every diesel vehicle,” says CEO Johan Potargent. “Our next step is to investigate how different parts, both inside and outside parts, can be produced using rotational moulding.”

Any shape in plastic

The advantages of this process are a much lower energy consumption combined with a higher production output, quality and flexibility.

“In a Mercedes truck for example, a tank that is tucked away under the driver seat can be shaped over the wheel and the step behind the truck cab. It is quite difficult to make this very irregular shape from metal. In plastic we can produce any shape once we have a mould.”

Reduce weight in automotive

AMS aims to extend the new Robomould® system to cover the production of parts based on carbon fibre technology in order to reduce the weight and increase the strength of automotive parts.

“There is not much that can be done to engines anymore,” adds Potargent. “Above all, cars should be lighter to lower fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. With plastics, it is therefore possible to produce parts such as a bonnet and a boot…. which involves the use of our technology.”

Audi, Porsche, VW, Mercedes and BMW: the key to market breakthrough

Potargent has actually partnered with French automotive manufacturers to explore ways to make several “outside parts” of a car from plastic.

With the world premiere of the Robomould at the International Suppliers Fair (IZB) in Hall 2, stand 2105, he hopes to attract the German car manufacturers as well.

“Audi, Porsche, VW, Mercedes and BMW. The Germans are crucial in enabling the market breakthrough of our technology. Now that everything is ready, I want to speed things up to be the first to launch this solution on the market.”

AMS is planning to sell up to 30 Robomoulds this year. In 2017, 60 units, and an awful lot more once it has successfully penetrated the automotive market.