Process Chain for Industrial-Scale Production of UD-Tape Based Thermoplastic Composite Products within one Minute

FORCE – Functionalized, Oriented Composites –, a process chain for developed at Neue Materialien Bayreuth GmbH, enables to realize economic and resource-efficient large-scale production of thermoplastic composite parts. Additionally, it provides the full-range benefit of the advantages UD tapes offer by allowing load-specific lightweight designs and functional integration in short cycle times. Currently, FORCE, installed on-site, employs a cycle time of 60 – 90 s with coincidently a minimal material scrap rate.

Tape layup, Pre-consolidation and Shaping by Compression and Functionalising by Molding Injection are the primary steps for the processing of unidirectional fiber-reinforced Tapes (UD tapes) to light and load-optimized structural components.

FORCE-Placement – Automated High Speed Tape Laying

The parallelization of the individual steps – cutting, layup and spot welding – required for the preforming of up to four UD tapes with different width is the unique feature of FORCE Placement technology. This allows a layup time of less than 2 seconds per tape stripe and a minimum material scarp rate. 2D preforms up to a maximum width of 1,500 mm can be pre-consolidated.

FORCE-Con – Pre-Consolidation

FORCE-Con, a double-belt press comes into play for continuous pre-consolidation of the stacked layer of tapes at temperatures up to 250 °C.

FORCE-Molding – Forming and Functionalising

FORCE-Molding means a fully automated manufacturing cell consisting of a vertical compression injection molding machine with a clamping force of 2,500 tons combined with a paternoster convection oven / infrared heating and a robot handling system.

The pre-consolidated preforms are heated above the melting point of the thermoplastic matrix homogeneously in a paternoster convection oven. The oven can reach a maximum temperature of 290 ± 2 °C and can handle depending on the preform geometry up to 32 parts at the same time.

In the following step, the handling of the heated preforms to the lower mold half fixed on a sliding table takes place with a robot gripper system. After the transfer is complete, the lower mold slides in to the press position and the mold is closed to form and consolidate the preform to its final shape. The two injection units (screw diameter of 90 and 105 mm) mounted adjacent to the vertical press can be used to integrate functional elements like ribs, bosses and snap fit joints. The compression injection molding machine allows for a processing temperature of up to 450 °C.

 

 

Service Portfolio:

  • Material, process and component development for long and continuous fiber reinforced thermoplastic composites
  • Production of load-optimized preforms made of fibre-reinforced tapes with thermoplastic matrix
  • Combination organo sheets / UD-tapes; local reinforcement of organo sheets
  • Process combinations of molding, injection molding, foaming, compression and LFT-processes
  • Mold validations (combination of compression/injection molding)
  • Process integrated production of sandwich structures
  • Material and component testing for composites