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23.09.2019

Tape inserts offer big potential for injection molding parts

Market and technology analysis confirms big potential for tape inserts in the injection molding process. Following the finalization of a major consortial project led by the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) and the Institute for Plastics Processing at RWTH Aachen University (IKV), the result is clear: tape inserts offer enormous potential for injection molding parts. For suitable components, product costs and component properties can be positively influenced.

Market and technology analysis confirms big potential for tape inserts in the injection molding process. Following the finalization of a major consortial project led by the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) and the Institute for Plastics Processing at RWTH Aachen University (IKV), the result is clear: tape inserts offer enormous potential for injection molding parts. For suitable components, product costs and component properties can be positively influenced.

In cooperation with 20 industrial partners, the two renowned Aachen research institutes AZL and IKV carried out a detailed analysis of tape inserts in injection molded components over a period of eight months. The tapes, which are a few tenths of a millimeter thick, are continuous fibers, typically made of glass or carbon, completely impregnated and embedded in a thermoplastic matrix. The tapes can be precisely aligned to the loads in a component and are used primarily in high-performance applications with the aim of weight reduction. The aim of the conducted analysis was the identification of potential applications and the estimation of a wider range of applications.

The project was divided into several phases: Phase I was used to identify the current status. In 20 interviews with representative companies of the injection molding industry, the researchers gathered why tape inserts have rarely been taken into account so far, when defining the material concepts to be analyzed. The lack of information about the material class, the procedure and tools for the development process and the necessary production technologies were cited as major challenges. This is where the consortium will take action and provide comprehensive information during the “Technology Information Day” on the extensively prepared state of the art and the high degree of maturity of the supply chain. Based on the status quo, they developed a methodology for analyzing the technological and economic potential of tape inserts in injection molding applications.

Both the previous results and the planned follow-up projects are the subject of the “Technology Information Day" at K 2019, to which the companies involved in the study, the AZL and IKV, invite all companies along the value chain, from raw material manufacturers to injection molders to OEMs. (Date: 18th October 2019, 10:00 am to 1:30 pm, Trade Fair Düsseldorf CCD South, Room 002).

The consortium, amongst others consisting of Asahi Kasei Europe GmbH, BASF SE, Borealis AG, BÜFA Thermoplastic Composites GmbH & Co. KG, ENGEL AUSTRIA GmbH, Huesker Synthetic GmbH, LG Hausys R&D Center, Mitsui Chemicals, Nippon Electric Glass, Polyscope Polymers BV, POLYTEC GROUP, Simcon kunststofftechnische Software GmbH, SABIC and Toray International Europe GmbH, is inviting to the “Technology Information Day” at K 2019. The goal is to inform about the technology and to identify topics for future collaboration.

Source:

AZL Aachen GmbH

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.