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JEC Europe 2012 - PlastiCell displayed a demonstrator dedicated to the laser welding of thermoplastic and thin composites sheets. This R&D tool was developed with Innoptics, a startup which specializes in the design and manufacturing of laser diode-based components and subsystems.
Instead of scanning at high speed with a laser spot using galvanometric mirrors as is generally done today, the polymer matrix is softened by moving a highly homogeneous laser line over the overlapping sheets. The laser beam exits the laser head through a light guide which also applies pressure over the sheets and cools down the surface of the upper sheet. This unique design makes the welds as strong as the constituent material. Moreover, they are almost invisible from the outside. This year, PlastiCell will display the new laser head developed with INNOPTICS, which is smaller, lighter but above all much faster than the first one.
This technique is used to produce honeycomb blocks out of any thermoplastic material supplied in the form of a thin sheet reinforced or not with glass fibres or webs. The sheet can be watertight or porous or even perforated. The density of the honeycomb material results from the cell size and the area weight of the plastic sheet. Densities as low as 30 kg/m3 were easily reached with an 8.7-mm hexagonal cell width.
Honeycomb is mainly used as a core for sandwich panels, a construction offering a remarkable strength-to-weight ratio.
More information: www.plasticell-honeycombs.com