Niebling is the global leader in solutions for High Pressure Forming equipment and tooling. Niebling’s expertise and equipment is a critical enabler of innovation and creativity in numerous industries including automotive, healthcare and consumer electronics. 

The company’s business is at the center of the Film Insert Molding (FIM) and In-Mold Electronics (IME) processes that are used to manufacture decorative and/or functional components. 

Easy Engineering: What are the main areas of activity of the company?

NIEBLING: Whilst the result of our work is the supply of equipment and tooling, a key part of our proposition is support of customer projects. In the competitive world of automotive design innovation in terms of form, fit and function are a constant so we work closely with our customers to bring their projects to life. Our industry is global, so we are managing enquiries and supporting projects around the world.  

E.E: What’s the news about new products?

NIEBLING: SAMK 410 & SAMK 720 are the latest versions within our conventional size envelope. They include many new performance features and a truly innovative HMI software to better support operators, process and efficiency.

As with all great processes people seek to “push the envelope.” For FIM and IME that, in Niebling terms, is often about size. This brings complex engineering challenges that goes well beyond simply scaling the equipment. Happily, our uniquely talented team has responded to well and a solution is in progress. This will open yet more potential for these processes to be used even more widely in automotive applications and well beyond.

Automation is going to be a key area as labor cost and availability become ever more challenging. Niebling is actively innovating around handling of material into and out of our equipment. Additionally, we have new solutions for the inline removal of protection films and optimizing surface condition before forming to ensure maximum yields.

We too are always “pushing the envelope.”

E.E: What are the ranges of products?

NIEBLING: Our products and services are all based around the Film Insert Molding (FIM) and In Mold Electronics (IME) processes. There are four main categories: 

Project support – Based on decades of experience and know-how:

  • Project Feasibility
  • Prototyping
  • Proof of concept
  • Pre-Series production
  • Project fulfillment

High Performance Forming Equipment – Best value and lowest cost of ownership 

  • Forming equipment in three sizes enabling components up to 1.4m long
  • Automation modules for loading, unloading and surface preparation in support of the forming equipment. 

Tooling – Critical to project success

  • Tooling design and manufacture to support the forming equipment and guarantee project success. 

Trimming – Essential high accuracy process step.

  • We offer a range of trimming presses and custom tooling for removing the formed component from the parent foil prior to injection molding. 

E.E: At what stage is the market where you are currently active?

NIEBLING: The market is dynamic, global and busy. In automotive terms the trend for electrification and driver automation is fueling innovation and so demand for our project support and equipment has never been higher. Equally there is so much more space in automotive, healthcare and numerous other segments for the cost and performance benefits of FIM and IME to be adopted and exploited. 

E.E: What can you tell us about market trends?

NIEBLING: There are several trends in the industry that are driving change and innovation. 

The move to electric vehicles is rewriting design rules and bringing function and form together at a component level with IME. 

In turn FIM and IME offer new capabilities that enable design innovation that is changing the way we interact and control our vehicles. 

Once confined to automotive interior applications we increasingly see FIM and IME components being utilized for external trim. This is attributable to the fundamental benefits of these process including decoration, durability and cost. Moreover, the ability to integrate functionality into durable exterior parts holds strong appeal for designers.

New materials are entering the market that bring new aesthetic and functional capabilities that can answer customer needs and inspire innovation. 

It is an exciting time to be in the industry.  

E.E: What are the most innovative products marketed?

NIEBLING: Niebling’s technology roadmap is constantly inspired by the needs of our customers. We are a long established and valued partner to OEMs and their supply chain so have great proximity to the market and its needs. The challenge of component size is more complex than it may appear. Accuracy and repeatability across a large format are not easy. Our know-how and experience mean that we will lead the industry with answers for larger parts.

E.E: What estimations do you have for 2022?

NIEBLING: We expect Europe to remain critical to our continued success and will work hard to support and develop that further. In automotive terms Asia is unquestionably a key market. We have enjoyed good business there for many years and now is the time to invest for more success. To that end have recently recruited a new colleague who will be working hard to promote FIM, IME and Niebling throughout the region. China builds over 21 million cars each year and is a leading innovator and market for electric vehicles, so the potential is obvious. Beyond China, Japan and South Korea are markets with great potential from their supply chains spread throughout the APAC region. To succeed as a premium supplier, we will be rolling out a series of initiatives to promote the performance and value of the Niebling proposition at the top end of the market.