Fiber Patch Placement successful at international trade shows and winner of the JEC Innovation Award in Seoul
Showcasing the latest Fiber Patch Placement developments, Cevotec recently convinced on exhibition areas and conferences of Advanced Engineering (Birmingham), Composites Europe & ICC (Stuttgart), GoCarbonFibre (Berlin), and JEC Asia (Seoul, South Korea). Together with Premium Aerotec, the FPP specialists also were honored with one of the most prestigious awards of composites industry, the JEC Award for sustainability.
This fall’s leading composite trade shows Advanced Engineering (Birmingham) and Composites Europe (Stuttgart) were undoubtedly successful events for Cevotec’s engineers and developers. Also, the conference’s contributions at these events as well as at GoCarbonFibre, the International Composite Congress (ICC) and the JEC Asia show found a highly interested audience. “Our strategy to always improve and develop Fiber Patch Placement technology according to the requirements of our customers pays off”, comments Thorsten Groene, Managing Director at Cevotec. Consequently, the SAMBA Multi production cell gained much attention in Birmingham and Stuttgart. Featuring a multi material feeding unit, SAMBA Multi automates the time- and cost-intensive multi-material lay-up of aerospace sandwich components. Also, the continuous process monitoring, featured by all production cells of the SAMBA Series, aroused interest as it enables a constant high placement accuracy and therefore significantly reduces time and cost required for individual unit tests particularly in aerospace industry. Automotive-focused trade show visitors in Stuttgart were also attracted by Fiber Patch Placement solutions to reinforce standard car bodies by fiber patches for e.g. increased stiffness in special series models. As the patches are placed directly onto the body structure where needed, no additional tooling is required, and short cycle times are possible. Together with the software ARTIST STUDIO, providing a virtual process chain including virtual laminate generation, FEM simulation as well as automated offline robot programming, FPP opens up exciting perspectives for the carbon fiber industry as a fully-fledged “industry 4.0” technology.
A highly interesting side effect results from the use of residual tape material that is “left over” in AFP production processes. “Manufacturers are challenged with a lot of uncured prepreg material resulting from APF processes”, explains Felix Michl, CTO at Cevotec. “In order to keep machine set-up times short, all reels of tape are simultaneously changed as soon as the tape left on one reel is not enough to place the next layer of the laminate”. Consequently, manufacturers suffer from virgin tape scrap rates plus additional costs to dispose the material. “To improve material utilization and reduce the overall cost are the reasons why Premium Aerotec teamed up with Cevotec in a project supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research”, continues Michl. “With SAMBA Prepreg production cells, adjusted for processing ½ inch wide thermoset prepreg tape, we effectively ‘recycle’ the residual AFP tape. SAMBA also enables us to manufacture the specific part that Premium Aerotec had in mind: a pressure cap with a complex, double-curved shape and a circumferential flange for rivets so complex that regular fabrics could not be draped to achieve the desired geometry.” In the past, Premium Aerotec examined different materials and processes to build this pressure cap, all of which resulted in high cost and a heavy part.
Designing and manufacturing the OP-box with FPP technology, using the residual AFP tape cut the part’s weight by 70%. The recurring costs could be decreased by 75% while the cost reduction thanks to the repurposing of the material is equaling 88%. For these results the partners Premium Aerotec and Cevotec received the JEC Innovation Award for sustainability in Seoul on November 15. “We were definitely proud to be among the twelve winners from eight different countries and to receive this award together with Premium Aerotec,” comments Thorsten Gröne. “The JEC Innovation Awards highlight how composites open up solutions considering the new challenges in terms of efficiency, sustainability and product life-cycle. We recognize that this particular project is of special relevance as it demonstrates innovation not only on the component, but also on the process, effectively combining AFP and FPP technology to increase material efficiency, reduce cost and enable new applications. As it is the only technology able to master the challenges of this component, Fiber Patch Placement impressively demonstrates the potential it brings to the aerospace industry for efficiently manufacturing complex fiber lay-ups, now and in the future.”
Cevotec enables manufacturers to build complex fiber composites in high volume and quality – by smart process automation based on Fiber Patch Placement technology. With SAMBA, Cevotec offers customizable, automated fiber lay-up systems for challenging 3D geometries and multi-material laminates with complex fiber orientation. ARTIST STUDIO is the matching CAE software for generating patch-based fiber laminates and automated robot programming. Along with development services that include FE-based modeling and simulation, Cevotec offers the entire process chain from digital design to final fiber product.
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