The latest laminate production technologies using thermoplastic tapes are limited in terms of productivity because the table-based processing principle uses a moving table or a robot system in combination with a tape placement applicator system. This offers a very high flexibility but is not suitable for mass production.
The new ultra-fast consolidator machine offers both high flexibility and mass production. Fully-consolidated multi-layer laminates with different fibre directions and minimized 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.
> Mass production of thermoplastic tailored laminates: >500 kg/hour
> Cycle time <5 seconds (state of the art: several minutes)
> Using in-situ consolidation: fast, flexible and energy efficient
> Laser-safe configurable, flexible production system with piece-flow principle
> Enabling new business models such as stiffening structures for injection moulding
Process results: Fully in-situ consolidated TP-FRP laminates
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 cassettes in each station can be relocated in the Y direction right before the moving carriers are fed through the applicator station in the X direction. Before each station, the carrier can be turned at a precise angle so that each applicator station can process one tape direction (fibre angle). The new machine system is modularly scalable: multiple application stations can be added (e.g. for each layer one application station for mass production) or the machine can be configured with one or two applicator stations with a conveyor carrousel where the carriers are moved multiple times through the application stations.
Industries: Aerospace, Automotive and Road Transportation, Building and Civil Engineering, Electrical, Electronics, Telecoms & Appliances, Marine Transportation and Shipbuilding, Other Composite End-use areas, Sports, Leisure & Recreation