72 | Expert Interview: Dr.-Ing. Erwin Bürkle

Our expert workshop "EPP: Connect, Join and Bond" that took place during imm cologne in January 2014 was a great success. More than 40 participants attended special lectures to learn all about innovative process combinations, bonding technologies for particle foams and new connecting elements. And after each lecture, speakers and participants engaged in lively discussions.
Experts discuss the latest innovations (above left); Dr.-Ing. Erwin Bürkle (above right) At the 2014 imm cologne, EPP Forum scored big: we were able to win industry legend Dr.-Ing. Erwin Bürkle as one of our speakers. Holder of a doctorate and recipient of multiple awards, the mechanical engineer is a bridge builder between business and science, an innovator and a driving force with a well-developed sense for new technological trends. In his keynote, Dr. Bürkle gave a broad overview about the historical development of bonding technologies while putting special emphasis on the injection moulding process.

Mr. Bürkle, what excited you about joining the expert workshop of EPP Forum? Can you tell us about the insights that you gained while exchanging ideas with other speakers and participants?

Dr.-Ing. Erwin Bürkle: My biggest driving force to join the expert workshop as an injection moulding veteran? Clearly the interdisciplinary approach of the workshop from a material science and process standpoint - and of course the invitation to be the keynote speaker in front of a particle foam audience. As someone who's not part of this particular industry no less. What I learnt from the discussions was that there is still a huge potential for EPP applications, especially for our current hot topic lightweight construction - and that there are new combinations between EPP and other materials waiting to be developed.

The core of your work - back at KraussMaffei as well as at Wobbe/Bürkle/Partner today - has always been connection, the collaboration between business and science, a goal that is near and dear to EPP Forum as well. Where do you see the need for action? And where do we need more networking, more cooperation?

Dr.-Ing. Erwin Bürkle: As I just said, I see a huge potential in lightweight construction and electric mobility. The need for action is especially present in the feasibility or rather manufacturing technologies composite and sandwich structures. Large-scale serial production is the predominant issue here. I believe that we need intensive, interdisciplinary collaborations with injection moulding and forming experts in order to quickly realise new and innovative production methods. We also need to find universities that can work on fundamental research and that can initiate application oriented development partnerships.

Where do you see the advantages of EPP in comparison with other synthetic materials, especially in terms of the processing and application of bonding technologies?

Dr.-Ing. Erwin Bürkle: Clearly particle foam has clear advantages when processed at low temperatures and pressures. This opens new possibilities for the integration of inserts such as sensitive sensors, actuators, chips or wires that can happen directly during the manufacturing process. Regarding bonding technologies, one will have to consider two-component technologies with bonded and/or positively connected mode of actions, in a "one-step process" if possible.

What's your take on the future role and importance of EPP as a versatile and innovative material?

Dr.-Ing. Erwin Bürkle: In the future, the use of EPP can be developed into completely new and much more complex applications, primarily in combination with other thermoplastic materials, both without reinforcement or fibre-reinforced. A specialty will be the combination of EPP with other materials for lightweight construction components with integrated functions. I believe that EPP will play a significant role in material combination and its respective process and production technologies. Just think about functional surfaces, thermal and acoustic separation or highly bending resistant sandwich structures, for example for crash-relevant components.