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Heraeus Noblelight demonstrates AFP heating technology

News International-French

6 Apr 2016

The company held a demonstrator event at the National Composites Centre to showcase their breakthrough Humm3 heating technology for Automated Fibre Placement (AFP).

The group of over 40 invited guests were given a close-up view of the technology in action, with a practical demonstration including high speed dry fibre lay-up as well as a presentation of the main highlights of the flashlamp's journey from initial concept to full demonstrator system.

The rapid and controllable heating provided by the Humm3 technology provides a viable alternative to laser and IR heat sources for AFP lay-up of thermoset, dry fibre and thermoplastic materials. The pulsed technology, based around a Xenon flashlamp, heats much more quickly than an IR lamp and has no residual heat, allowing equally rapid cooling. Temperatures appropriate for thermoplastic lay-up are achievable, and the flashlamp head is significantly smaller than a diode laser system, allowing tighter concave radii to be realised. Furthermore, the technology does not have the health and safety consequences of a laser, meaning the operator can remain with the system during lay-up, rather than retreating to a separate booth.

Heraeus has worked in partnership with the NCC for the last 4 years, initially through the NCC core programme and then via a NATEP-funded collaborative R&D project. During this time, the flashlamp technology has progressed from an initial concept in the Heraeus research labs in Cambridge to a full technology demonstrator for AFP lay-up in the NCC's dedicated AFP cell.

Attendees at the demo represented a range of companies and organisations, including Rolls-Royce, Hexcel, GKN, and Coriolis Composites, UKTI, NATEP and the NCC. Many of these companies have helped to guide the development of the technology and the event was in part a recognition of these valuable contributions, as well as a chance to mark the end of the NATEP-funded project.

The demonstrator event gave an opportunity to discuss and cultivate future plans for the technology, and Heraeus are actively following a number of exciting new research and development avenues for the Humm3 system, both for AFP and alternative applications that require fast, controllable heating.

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