FPP is a technology for the automated production of complex fibre composite components. The additive manufacturing of components with suitably-sized patches is used in the aerospace and automotive industries, for medical devices and sports equipment.
Cevotec is particularly interested in complex sandwich components with a sophisticated materials mix, such as adhesive films, glass fibre and carbon fibre layers. These different materials are used to improve the adhesion and processability of carbon fibre material with the often-used aluminium honeycomb sandwich cores.
“The SAMBA Multi production systems, which we are currently developing, enables the automated lay-up of this special multi-material mix in one single system,” reports Felix Michl, Cevotec’s CTO.
In addition to glass fibre fleeces, metal structures and wood cores, honeycomb cores, solid foams and additional materials have also already employed load-adjusted fibre patch reinforcements. Depending on process requirements, this can be done in-line or parallel to line production to optimise cycle times.
SAMBA Multi has parallel feeding units for different materials that are processed in one production system and placed precisely on 3D sandwich cores or preforming tools. By mounting the FPP unit on a linear axis, the concept also enables the production of particularly long and wide components for aerospace applications. Adapted to specific component sizes, the company has also scaled the patch grippers to DIN-A5 and DIN-A4 size to meet the requirements of common aircraft components. An integrated gripper station enables the exchange of grippers during the process.
“The automated multi-material lay-up of complex sandwich components has an extremely positive effect on process times and thus the production volume,” explains Thorsten Groene, Managing Director of Cevotec. “The fibre deposition with controlled pressure and heat enables skipping intermediate compactions and thus reduces process times significantly.”
In addition, Groene continues, FPP reduces production costs in many applications.
“Material savings of 20-50% play a major role, of course, but automation with FPP often enables further optimisation of the overall process.”
Another advantage of SAMBA Multi is the scalability of the production process.
“One and the same process works both for a few hundred and several thousand units per year,” explains Michl. “Thanks to the quick-change system and short set-up times, a product change on the system is no problem and economically reasonable: During ramp-up, an FPP system’s capacity can be used for several components. With increasing quantities, the machine park is expanded and the systems become more dedicated. The advantage: the process remains the same – no new product development and no re-qualification of parts are necessary.”
“Since both FPP and AFP processes are used in the aerospace industry, the question whether laminate planning for FPP and AFP can be combined in our CAE software ARTIST STUDIO naturally arose in the course of development,” adds Dr Neven Majic, EVP at Cevotec. “The clear answer: yes, it can be combined.”
Cevotec is currently extending ARTIST STUDIO with the relevant features for laminate design with endless fibre tapes as used in AFP processes. Integrated into ARTIST STUDIO, the new module TAPE ARTIST will also use MOTION ARTIST for machine data generation and process simulation. TAPE ARTIST can also be combined with PATCH ARTIST to one joint module, enabling engineers to design integrated laminates based on AFP and FPP technology.
Companies: Cevotec GmbH