Fiber Patch Placement – 4.0 lightweight construction for future mobility concepts

Future mobility concepts pose a special challenge for manufacturers. A new class of light aircrafts and flying-car hybrids is currently emerging, resulting in extreme demands for lightweight construction and scaling in order to maximize the range of their electric drives. Therefore, the industry needs new production concepts to make composite lightweight construction more efficient, cost-effective and scalable. Additive manufacturing with Fiber Patch Placement enables manufacturers to do just that.

Fueled by electric engines and autonomous navigation, new air mobility concepts will change the way we move in particular in metropolitan areas. Above all, the introduction of air taxis as a new democratic transport in the third dimension, expected in the next 5-10 years, will exponentially increase the demand for new, low-cost (air) vehicles. The most important challenge for manufacturers during the introduction phase will be to use technologies that work economically at initially small volumes but can scale efficiently with the expected market growth. This is the only way to realize economic production processes and avoid costly re-qualification of components due to design changes.

On a functional level, manufacturers have to balance structural weight, payload and range for intended missions. This almost inevitably requires the use of particularly lightweight and strong fiber composites. Typical composite manufacturing processes, however, either involve numerous manual steps and are therefore slow, or they require the use of equipment that has little flexibility after installation despite high initial costs. Although classic 3D printing offers a high degree of automation and flexibility, it often does not meet the requirements for production speed and mechanical properties.

Fiber Patch Placement (FPP) bridges the gap between productivity, flexibility and production costs in fiber composites and offers efficiency even at low volumes through scalable automation. Adapted to the size and complexity of a component, the technology works additively in “sensible increments”. Robots place discrete fiber elements, so-called patches, on calculated positions, thereby realizing geometrically complex fiber layups fully automated. A technology-specific software supports engineers with CAD, CAM and FEA functions.

Since FPP almost completely eliminates production scrap and optimizes the fiber architecture, the technology uses 25-50% less material than other technologies through its additive production according to bionic principles and can reduce costs and process time to a similar extent. In addition, robot-based FPP systems with short set-up times enable the economical production of various components on a single system. With increasing quantities, the production set-up scales accordingly and the systems are expanded as required. A multi-material set-up with parallel feeding of several materials is also possible – this is particularly interesting for hybrid components and sandwich structures, which can further increase the lightweight potential. With Fiber Patch Placement, production processes become flexible, scalable and cost-efficient to an extent previously unknown – and thus represent an ideal manufacturing basis for composites lightweight construction of the future.

About Cevotec:

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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