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18.04.2019

AZL and Partner Institutes present lightweight processes and equipment during AZL Open Day

On April 11th, 2019, the 9 Partner Institutes of the AZL opened the doors of their machinery halls and research labs to provide an extensive and on-site insight into the research and development capaci-ties in the field of lightweight production and composites at the RWTH Aachen Campus.

On April 11th, 2019, the 9 Partner Institutes of the AZL opened the doors of their machinery halls and research labs to provide an extensive and on-site insight into the research and development capaci-ties in the field of lightweight production and composites at the RWTH Aachen Campus. As a special highlight of this year, the AZL presented the "iComposite 4.0" self-optimizing process chain: fiber-spraying - dry fiber placement - adaptive RTM as well as AZL´s new prototype machine development "Ultra-Fast Consolidator Machine" for highly productive and flexible processing of thermoplastic tapes with in-situ consolidation (winner of the JEC World Innovation Award 2019).

More than 100 Participants from external companies as well as from the AZL Network had the possibility to experience updates on the latest lightweight production technologies and equipment, get to know the bene-fital infrastructure on the Campus and network with internationally represented companies of the entire light-weight value chain researches by taking part in five guided tours to the lightweight institutes.

The AZL brought together content in the field of textiles (ITA), plastics and composite materials (IKV), pro-duction technology (WZL, IPT, ILT, and ISF), quality assurance and production-integrated measurement technology (WZL), lightweight design (SLA), automotive production (IKA) as well as multi-material systems and process integration (AZL).

Once a year at the Open Day, the AZL offers an exclusive and widespread unique insight into the R&D capacities of the institutes in the field of lightweight and composite technologies on the campus of RWTH Aachen University. Within walking distance, researchers and students from 9 institutes are working on the latest technologies for the cost-efficient development and production of lightweight components within one of the largest research landscapes in Europe. The research, closely involving industrial companies, covers the entire value chain from fiber production, materials and processing technology to quality assurance and com-ponent testing.

More information:
AZL SMC, AZL, RWTH Aachen
Source:

AZL Aachen GmbH

(c) AZL Aachen GmbH
29.03.2019

AZL, Winner of the JEC Innovation Award 2019, Category: “Industry & Equipment”

This year, AZL won the JEC AWARD 2019 for the development of the new machine system “Ultra-Fast Consolidator Machine”. This innovative machine system is a result of an 18-months AZL Joint Partner Project, conducted in 2017-2018 by the research partners AZL Aachen and Fraunhofer IPT Aachen, in cooperation with industrial partner companies including Conbility, Covestro, Engel, Evonik, Fagor Arrasate, Faurecia SE, Laserline, Mitsui Chemicals, Mubea Carbo Tech, Philips Photonics, SSDT and Toyota (in alphabetical order).

This year, AZL won the JEC AWARD 2019 for the development of the new machine system “Ultra-Fast Consolidator Machine”. This innovative machine system is a result of an 18-months AZL Joint Partner Project, conducted in 2017-2018 by the research partners AZL Aachen and Fraunhofer IPT Aachen, in cooperation with industrial partner companies including Conbility, Covestro, Engel, Evonik, Fagor Arrasate, Faurecia SE, Laserline, Mitsui Chemicals, Mubea Carbo Tech, Philips Photonics, SSDT and Toyota (in alphabetical order).

The new UItra-Fast Consolidator Machine offers both high flexibility and mass production of tailored thermoplastic laminates with reduced scrap. Fully consolidated multi-layer laminates with different fiber directions and minimized scrap (tailored blanks) can be produced in cycle times below 5 seconds with this new scalable machine setup. This individualized mass production is accomplished by a combination of laser-assisted tape placement with in-situ consolidation and a piece-flow principle, which is state of the art in the printing industry but has not been used in such a way within composite production. The achievable productivity is enhanced to more than 500 kg/hour by this piece-flow principle with carriers moved through multiple application stations which are equipped with multiple tape placement applicators. The new machine is scalable: multiple application stations can be added, e.g. for each layer one station for mass production or for each fiber direction one station with a carrier-conveyor carousel: here the carriers are moved multiple times through the application stations.

The system will be commercialized by some of the industrial partners in 2019. The real machine setup has been presented at the AZL booth during the JEC Exhibition in Paris 2019.

The follow-up project has just started and is still open to join for industrial partners. This follow-up project comprises a further upscale of the machine system as well as a preparation of the commercialization by long-term durability tests and further process optimizations using different tape materials.

More information:
AZL SMC, AZL, RWTH Aachen
Source:

AZL Aachen GmbH

(c) AZL Aachen GmbH
04.03.2019

AZL demonstrates new Ultra-Fast Consolidator Machine at JEC World in Paris

After many years of successful cooperation on JEC World since 2015, the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) renewed the cooperation with the JEC Group for 2019:

After many years of successful cooperation on JEC World since 2015, the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) renewed the cooperation with the JEC Group for 2019:

At the dedicated exhibition area called “Composites in Action - JEC Group in partnership with AZL” (Hall 5A, D17), AZL and its 9 Partner Institutes of RWTH Aachen University present their latest research and development results. The innovations covering the whole composite value chain including research results of AZL, Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology IPT and Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT, the Institute of Plastics Processing (IKV) in Industry and the Skilled Crafts as well as RWTH Aachen University institutes including the Laboratory for Machine Tools and Production Engineering (WZL), the Welding and Joining Institute (ISF), the “Institut für Textiltechnik” (ITA), the Institute for Automotive Engineering (IKA), the Institute of Structural Mechanics and Lightweight Design (SLA). Following companies are sponsoring partners of this booth and will present their latest products and services: Hille Engineering, Maru Hachi, TELENE and Textechno.

This year, AZL is very proud to present a new machine system development at their booth:
The real machine setup of the “Ultra-Fast Consolidator Machine” will be shown at the AZL booth (Hall 5A, D17) which is one of three finalists for the JEC AWARD 2019 in the category “Industry and Equipment”.

More information:
SMC, AZL, RWTH Aachen AZL
Source:

AZL Aachen GmbH

Bushing heated via induction of the novel glass fibre production line (c) ITA
Bushing heated via induction of the novel glass fibre production line
21.02.2019

ITA at JEC World 2019: newly constructed induction heated glass fibre production line among other exhibits

At the joint stand of the Aachen Centre for Integrative Lightweight Construction (AZL) in Hall 5A, booth D17, the Institut für Textiltechnik of RWTH Aachen University (ITA) will demonstrate its expertise in the field of glass fibres, preforms and textile concrete 12-14 March 2019 in Paris.
The exhibits come from various fields of application and address the automotive, aerospace and mechanical engineering sectors.

At the joint stand of the Aachen Centre for Integrative Lightweight Construction (AZL) in Hall 5A, booth D17, the Institut für Textiltechnik of RWTH Aachen University (ITA) will demonstrate its expertise in the field of glass fibres, preforms and textile concrete 12-14 March 2019 in Paris.
The exhibits come from various fields of application and address the automotive, aerospace and mechanical engineering sectors.

  1. Innovative glass fibre research at ITA
    The newly constructed induction heated glass fibre production line enables increased flexibility in research. For the first time, glass fibres will be produced live at the ITA booth at JEC World. One of the innovations of the system is the inductively heated bushing. It features a flexible design and consists of a platinum/rhodium alloy (Pt/Rh20) for use in high-temperature glasses.
    The glass fibre production line was designed in such a way that new concepts and ideas can be tested quickly. The modular design allows a high flexibility, the induction system a significantly faster operability.
    Research and development projects can therefore be carried out faster and more cost-effectively.
     
  2. DrapeCube - Forming of textile semi-finished products
    The DrapeCube offers a cost-effective design for the production of fibre preforms from textile semi-finished products. It is used in the production of preforms for prototypes and in small series and is suit-able for companies active in the production of fibre-reinforced plas-tics (FRP).
    In the production of FRP components, the preforming process de-fines a large part of the subsequent component costs. In small- and medium-sized enterprises, this process step is often still carried out manually. This results in high quality fluctuations and component prices. Especially in the case of highly stressed structural components, the fluctuation in quality leads to oversizing of the components.
    Thus, the lightweight construction potential of fiber-reinforced plastics is underused. One solution is offered by the stamp forming process adapted from the sheet metal forming industry for shaping rein-forcing textiles. The textile is inserted between two mould halves (male and female) and automatically formed. Due to high plant and tooling costs, this process is used almost exclusively in large-scale production.
    The ITA has developed the DrapeCube forming station which offers a cost-effective alternative and is able to completely reproduce the current state of the art for forming textile half branches. The process steps will be demonstrated in a video at the booth.
     
  3. Carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) preform
    The CFRP preform consists of carbon multiaxial fabrics formed by expanded polystyrene (EPS) to optimise draping quality. Preforms of increased quality can be produced by gentle, textile-compatible forming with foam expansion. For the first time, foam expansion was used to form preforms in such a way that the draping quality is improved compared to classic stamp forming.
    The advantages of the CFRP preform lie in the savings in plant costs, as the investment is much lower. In addition, the proportion of waste is reduced because near-net-shape production is possible. In addition, rejects are reduced, as fewer faults occur in the textile.
     
  4. Embroidered preform with integrated metal insert
    The 12k carbon fibre rovings are shaped into a preform using Tai-lored Fibre Placement (TFP) which is a technical embroidery pro-cess. For the further layer build-up, a fastener is not only integrated under the roving layers but also fixed by additional loops. The highly integrative preforming approach offers the possibility of reducing weight and process steps as well as increasing mechanical perfor-mance.
    Until now, inserts were glued or holes had to be drilled in the com-ponent. Bonded fasteners are limited by the adhesive surface. The bonding of fasteners into drilled holes results in high drill abrasion and thus high tool wear.
    The advantages of the embroidered preform with integrated metal fasteners are the reduction of scrap due to TFP preforming and the increase in the specific pull-out force. In addition, it is possible to automatize the production of integrative preforms. This makes the preform with integrated metal fasteners interesting for the automotive and aerospace industries.
Source:

Institut für Textiltechnik of RWTH Aachen University

Concrete bar stool with hybrid carbon reinforcement for fast, cost-efficient part production (c) Institut für Textiltechnik of RWTH Aachen University
29.10.2018

ITA at the Composites Europe 2018 in Stuttgart

At the Composites Europe in Stuttgart /06 - 08 November 2018), the Institut für Textiltechnik of RWTH Aachen University, short ITA, will be showing products, components and machines along the fibre composite process chain. The ITA will present itself at the booth of the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Construction (AZL) in hall 9, booth E70. Various demonstrators will be used to present selected innovative processes and products over the individual steps. The exhibits come from different fields of application: From mobility applications to the construction sector.

At the Composites Europe in Stuttgart /06 - 08 November 2018), the Institut für Textiltechnik of RWTH Aachen University, short ITA, will be showing products, components and machines along the fibre composite process chain. The ITA will present itself at the booth of the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Construction (AZL) in hall 9, booth E70. Various demonstrators will be used to present selected innovative processes and products over the individual steps. The exhibits come from different fields of application: From mobility applications to the construction sector. Here is an example from the field of "construction composites":

With the concrete bar stool with hybrid carbon reinforcement, the ITA demonstrates that textiles as reinforcement structures for concrete elements allow a enormous geometrical freedom of Design. So far, manual positioning of the textile reinforcement used to be time-consuming and complex, as permitted tolerances are in the millimetre range. Thus the production mainly contributed to the high costs of textile concrete.

At the ITA, the two industrial partners Albani Group GmbH & Co. KG and DuraPact 2.0 Kompetenzzentrum Faserbeton GmbH developed a new hybrid reinforcement with integrated spacer. This hybrid reinforcement reduces the time required to position the reinforcement by up to 60 percent and thus makes the material significantly more

The new, cost-effective hybrid reinforcement contains an integrated spacer and thus faciliates the positioning of dry and coated reinforcements. The integrated spacer allows several layers of reinforcement to be stacked quickly, allowing the desired degree of reinforcement to be set. The hybrid reinforcement consists of a carbon or glass fibre grid joined with a permeable polyamide mat and will be available in roll form from industrial partners in the near future.

More information:
Composites AZL
Source:

Institut für Textiltechnik of RWTH Aachen University

(c) KLULE/Unsplash
Composites offer design freedom and exceptional mechanical properties at low weight for furniture applications
22.10.2018

Composites are opening up new horizons for the furniture industry

What does the furniture market look like and what potential composites offer for the furniture of today and tomorrow? The AZL is investigating this question together with companies from the composite and furniture industry. The result will be an overview of the current market and the materials used to date as well as an outlook on future mass applications for fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP). The study is open to interested companies and starts with a kick-off meeting at Composites Europe in Stuttgart on November 7th, 2018.

What does the furniture market look like and what potential composites offer for the furniture of today and tomorrow? The AZL is investigating this question together with companies from the composite and furniture industry. The result will be an overview of the current market and the materials used to date as well as an outlook on future mass applications for fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP). The study is open to interested companies and starts with a kick-off meeting at Composites Europe in Stuttgart on November 7th, 2018.

Furniture, its design and function have undergone major changes in recent decades: From robust lifelong companions to trend-setting models, from handmade one-of-a-kind pieces to mass products, from storage objects to multi-functional and “smart” all-rounders. This goes along with an increased diversity in terms of design and the materials used – and high potential for composites that offer additional design freedom and exceptional mechanical properties at low weight.

Study provides overview of furniture market and unique selling points of composites
In order to systematically identify the potential of fiber-reinforced composites and to use them in future furniture applications, the AZL is starting a study together with companies from the furniture and composite industry. Within four and a half months the market for furniture will be segmented, design and technology trends will be identified and the technical requirements for furniture and furniture components will be broken down to identify applications with high potential for composites. The overall goal is to understand the selection process and needs of the furniture designer in order to bring composites to the market as a targeted alternative to conventional materials.

Virginia Bozsak, Technical Manager Composites at ARKEMA Innovative Chemistry is participating in the study: “The ever-growing population number requires environmentally friendly material and a solution for the end of life treatment to recollect and reuse materials. For fast changing markets such as the furniture market, these materials also need to offer an enormous freedom of design. Arkema already answers this demand with the only liquid thermoplastic resin Elium® used as a thermoset resin to produce composite structural or aesthetical parts. With the joint study, we aim to identify specific applications in the furniture market to make use of material which is not limiting creativity or design specifications but rather enabling the future to be revolutionized.”

 

03.09.2018

New ENGEL Injection Molding System at AZL of RWTH Aachen University

The Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) of RWTH Aachen University is installing a new ENGEL injection molding system in its technical center. Engel Deutschland GmbH – in cooperation with the ENGEL Centre for Lightweight Composite Technologies in Austria – will install the 2-component injection molding system with turning plate and 17,000 kN clamping force in 2019. This machine setup is the basis for further developments of efficient inline-combination technologies using different kinds of polymer performance materials.

The Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) of RWTH Aachen University is installing a new ENGEL injection molding system in its technical center. Engel Deutschland GmbH – in cooperation with the ENGEL Centre for Lightweight Composite Technologies in Austria – will install the 2-component injection molding system with turning plate and 17,000 kN clamping force in 2019. This machine setup is the basis for further developments of efficient inline-combination technologies using different kinds of polymer performance materials.

The ENGEL injection molding system will enable innovative combinations of already established fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) processes and the development of new individual processes. The focus is on increasing resource efficiency in lightweight production. With the new equipment, new research and development initiatives can explore the more efficient use of materials, which are eventually the key to the mass production of lightweight components. The research will address multi-material systems, continuous processes, process chains as well as self-optimizing processes.

Dr.-Ing. Michael Emonts, Managing Director of the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) is looking forward to realizing new innovative lightweight production process with the new injection molding system: “This new injection molding system offers us as specialists for lightweight production technology in cooperation with the injection molding experts of the Institute of Plastics Processing – the IKV – the opportunity to establish hybrid processes for industrial lightweight applications. The system will expand our existing machinery in the AZL Technical Center and will be available as an important platform for lightweight production research at RWTH Aachen University.”

Being a Partner of the AZL, ENGEL has already been working closely with the AZL for many years as a Partner Company of the AZL Partner Network. Dr. Stefan Engleder, CEO of the ENGEL Group, emphasizes the importance of close collaboration with technical universities and especially with the AZL: “The AZL provides great conditions for industry-related research activities in the field of lightweight composites as it is characterized by a strong interdisciplinary approach. It benefits from the great infrastructure and the collaboration with well-known institutes of the RTWH Aachen University. ENGEL is looking forward to working together with the AZL on developing efficient lightweight composite mass production processes.”

In addition to the numerous composite and lightweight equipment at the RWTH Aachen Campus, the AZL Technical Center comprises large-scale equipment for the development of processes for lightweight production, such as a composite press from Schuler Pressen GmbH with 18,000 kN clamping force.

 

PrePro2D "PrePro 2D“ machine system for tape placement of tailored blanks and laminates with in-situ consolidation. (c) Fraunhofer IPT.
PrePro2D
16.02.2018

Commercialization of Fraunhofer´s tape-placement and tape winding systems

The two AZL Partners 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.

The two AZL Partners 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 25 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 “PrePro 2D” machine system 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.  
Three in one: Three technologies included in one single modular system
Furthermore, the award-winning “PrePro 3D” tape placement and winding applicator is available as modular product with decentral control system (including closed-loop control of energy input into the processing zone) for the “plug-in” implementation in existing robot systems or machine systems by standard interfaces for the communication with the master control system. 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.  

During the JEC World in Paris (March 6th – 8th 2018), Conbility GmbH will present its new “VCSEL Tape Placement and Winding Applicator” (Fig. 3), developed in cooperation with Fraunhofer IPT and Philips Photonics at the AZL Composites in Action area (Hall 5A, C55).

VCSEL Laser Systems as heat source for lower investment and process costs
This applicator uses an integrated VCSEL Laser System as heat source which has been developed by Philips Photonics. This tape placement and winding applicator can also be integrated as modular “plug-in” system into industrial jointed-arm and linear gantry robots in variable manufacturing cells. Using the new VCSEL Laser as heat source (VCSEL: Vertical-Cavity Surface Emitting Laser) leads to significant lower investment and process cost in comparison to other laser systems. Furthermore, the VCSEL laser system can accomplish controllable in-process adjustments of the laser-spot geometry as well as the intensity distribution within the spot size during the process (in-process control of laser-spot geometries and intensities) for the first time. The new system with 2 kW laser power and 10 separate emission zones which can be controlled separately will be shown at JEC World in Paris 2018 as new product of Conbility GmbH.

27.11.2017

AZL is building on the success of the study on Composites in Buildings & Infrastructure

The AZL will continue its collaboration on composites in buildings and infrastructure after completing an initial market and technology study which identified new potentials for composite technologies in buildings and infrastructure markets. The aim of the new AZL Workgroup which will meet for the first time on January 25th, 2018 is to jointly develop new applications and to support the business development for composites in these two growing markets.

The AZL will continue its collaboration on composites in buildings and infrastructure after completing an initial market and technology study which identified new potentials for composite technologies in buildings and infrastructure markets. The aim of the new AZL Workgroup which will meet for the first time on January 25th, 2018 is to jointly develop new applications and to support the business development for composites in these two growing markets. The meeting is open to interested companies from the composite industry as well as the building and infrastructure markets.


The aim of the initial workgroup meeting will be to turn insights from the study into a long-term workgroup collaboration and to define topics and initiatives for the joint cooperation in the field of process and manufacturing technologies, fire safety regulations, materials as well as standards and norms. Industrial keynote presentations will introduce these action fields and will provide an insight into building and infrastructure applications for composites. The meeting will furthermore provide a platform to network with companies along the entire composite value chain.


Dr. Amer Affan, CEO and founder of AFFAN Innovative Structures based in Dubai is in charge of various composite projects for buildings such as the Museum of the Future in Dubai: “We have been utilizing structural composites in construction since 2010. Composites is a truly high-tech material compared with the traditional building materials (steel, concrete, timber and aluminum) but it is still to be recognized as such in the conservative and price-sensitive building industry. AZL, particularly its location at the RWTH Aachen University and its partner companies, offers a good platform to progress the use of composites in construction.”


AZL together with more than 25 companies just completed the Joint Market and Technology Study on “New Potentials for Composite Technologies in Buildings and Infrastructure” establishing a broad knowledge on business opportunities for composite technologies in these two growing markets. In a structured approach, the study determined the key segments as well as the technologies/applications with the highest market and technological potential. Analyses of 20 market segments, investigation of 438 applications, technology analyses of 25 highlight components and 11 detailed business cases were elaborated throughout the study. Additional to requirement analyses for materials and production technologies, new concepts for efficient profitable production technologies and cost engineering analysis were developed. With the workgroup, the AZL will take this initiative a step further with the aim to build a long-term cooperation platform for composites in buildings and infrastructure markets.


Justin Jin, CEO of the Korean company AXIA Materials participated in the study and is part of the AZL Partner Network: “As producer of large thermoplastic composite sheets and composite SIP (Structural Insulated Panel), we are eager to drive composites in B&I applications with the best efficient way. The AZL study on Buildings and Infrastructure provided us a great networking with key players in this business field and opportunities to strengthen our products with the key elements from partners. The study also gave us a proper market understanding including market size/volume in numbers to prove the value of this technology to building industry. We are looking forward to following up on these first insights and to realize applications with the AZL and its partners.”


Besides the networking options, the meeting will offer the opportunity to get an insight into the activities of the AZL Network consisting of nine research institutes at the RWTH Aachen Campus and more than 80 companies from 21 countries. During an optional guided tour, participants will visit selected institutes at the RWTH Aachen Campus. The meeting is open to all interested companies and free of charge.

More Information on Meeting and the Study
Information on AZL activities in the field of buildings and infrastructure:
www.azl-lightweight-production.com/composites-buildings-infrastructure
Details and registration to first Workgroup Meeting on January 25th, 2018:
http://www.azl-lightweight-production.com/termine/1st-workgroup-meeting-buildings-infrastructure