A project led by AZL Aachen, the international benchmark research centre for lightweight materials, in which Fagor Arrasate contributes as an associated partner, has won the JEC Innovation Awards, which recognise the best composite solutions, in the category of Industry and Equipment.
The project aimed at the manufacture of an ultra-fast machine (up to 500 kg/hour for the prototype) for the mass production of individual customised preforms, based on a part flow approach in combination with the placement of unidirectional tapes (in dry fibre, thermoplastic, prepreg…) by laser-assisted in situ consolidation.
The main benefits of this machine are its high production rate (>500 kg/hour) and low cycle time (
This new ultra-fast consolidator machine offers both high flexibility and mass production. Fully-consolidated multilayer laminates with different fibre directions and minimise waste (tailored blanks) can be produced in cycle times under 5 seconds for the first time, whereas the most recent machines need several minutes. This is accomplished by a new piece-flow principle which is state of the art in the printing industry but has not been used in composite production.
The production principle is based on moving carrier plates (for the transportation of the laminates), which are moved by a conveyor system and fed through several applicator stations. Each applicator station is equipped with innovative narrow applicator cassettes for laser-assisted tape placement with on-the-fly cut-and-add. The applicator cassettes are 50 mm wide and can process a tape width of 25 mm. Larger tape widths are also possible as the applicator cassettes are scalable.
The collaborative project involved the participation of other international partners such as Conbility (Germany), Covestro Deutschland (Germany), Engel Austria (Austria), Evonik Industries (Germany), Faurecia Composite Technologies (France), Fraunhofer IPT (Germany), Laserline (Germany), Mitsui Chemicals Europe (Germany), Mubea Carbo Tech GmbH (Austria), Philips Photonics (Germany), SSDT Shanghai Superior Die Technology. (China), Toyota Motor Europe (Belgium).
Companies: Fagor Arrasate