Fiber-reinforced plastic components have long since been used not only for high-performance aerospace applications. Pipelines for industrial applications and components for the automotive or consumer goods industries can now be produced automatically and thus comparatively cost-effectively by means of tape placement and winding processes. Conbility GmbH and Fraunhofer IPT Aachen started their long term cooperation for the further development and for the commercialization of Fraunhofer's tape-placement and tape winding systems with in-situ-consolidation by the usage of laser or IR heat sources.
With this cooperation, the company Conbility GmbH makes more than 30 years of expertise in special machine development of tape placement systems of the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology IPT commercially available. Conbility offers two different tape processing systems available in different configurations. The company offers technical support services and performs maintenance as well as trainings for industrial custimers for the new technologies, which have been developed by the Fraunhofer IPT and are now distributed by Conbility.
During the JEC World in Paris (March 6th –8th 2018), Conbility GmbH and Fraunhofer IPT will present its new technologies for the first time at the AZL Composites in Action area (Hall 5A, Booth C55).
PrePro 2D: Automated production of flat UD laminates
The “PrePro 2D” machine system (Fig.1) allows for the automated tailored tape placement of UD laminates and which can be used for subsequent thermoforming or as stiffening structures in injection molding processes. The machine comprises a rotating and translational table which is moved relatively to the applicator station. The table is scalable according to the requirements of customers. Standard table diameters are 1200 mm or 2000 mm. The applicator station can be equipped with a single or with multiple spool applicators. Because of the large process area, a 9 kW IR heater is used for the in-situ-consolidation process.
PrePro 3D: Modular tape applicator with VSCEL technology
The PrePro 3D applicator (Fig. 2) is available as a stand-alone system and can be modularly integrated into existing robot or machine systems as a retrofit solution. In contrast to the PrePro-2D system, this system can be used for different materials. It is suitable for dry-fiber placement in the manufacture of three-dimensional preforms as well as for laser-assisted thermoplastic tape placement and even for the manufacture of complex 3D structures and wound components. For easy integration into existing systems, the system has a decentralized process control system that communicates with the machine system via standard interfaces and ensures a particularly versatile application.
Conbility provides the single applicator as well as turn-key ready systems including the robot and handling systems.
Unique selling point of the PrePro 3D system is its multifunctional range of usage: it accomplishes laser-assisted thermoplastic tape placement, IR-assisted thermoset prepreg placement and dry fiber placement: Three technologies included in one single modular system.
The Fraunhofer IPT in Aachen has more than 30 years of experience in the development of tape placement and winding systems. In numerous publicly funded projects and industrial cooperations, various placement and winding systems as well as customized special machines have been developed, built up, optimized and transferred into industrial applications in recent years. Moreover, the Fraunhofer IPT not only develops process control and inline quality assurance systems on an ongoing basis, but also has extensive experience in the use of various heat sources such as hot gas, infrared emitters, microwave and laser technology.
Fig.1: “PrePro 2D“ machine system for tape placement of tailored blanks and laminates with in-situ consolidation. Copyright: Fraunhofer IPT
Fig.2: "PrePro 3D“ applicator for modular integration into existing production systems. Copyright: Fraunhofer IPT
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Thomas Weiler M.Sc.
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