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Starting of the high volume production line for composite parts of Cetim

News International-French

25 Mar 2015

Cetim, a Carnot-approved mechanical technological institute, and IRT Jules Verne announces the beginning of the operational phase for two modules of their high-speed production pilot line for composites.

The goal is to develop a production line – from fiber to the finished product – for long fiber thermoplastic composites (glass, carbon, etc.) and hybrid composites.

The two new modules of the high-speed production pilot line for composites address the needs of the automotive and aeronautical industries but also has wider applications, permeating the whole mechanical sector: agricultural machinery, handling and lifting equipment, heavy vehicles and has an estimated budget of 14.7 M€.

For Christophe Champenois, a composite engineering manager at Cetim, “We have chosen the most demanding specifications in the matter, those of the automobile industry. In order to meet the antipollution norms applicable in 2020, constructors must reduce vehicle mass, hence their interest in the manufacture of structural parts in composite materials. If they accept a supplementary cost of 3 euros per kilogram, they demand that manufacturing time be of around 2 minutes per part. If you can move mountains, you can move molehills – in this light, progress in the automobile world should benefit all sectors of industry.”

The Quilted Stratum Process module
Cetim presents the first operational module in the high-speed line at Technocampus Composites. It has funding of 4.8M€ from Cetim and the Pays de la Loire Region and is dedicated to composite layering. It is based on patented technology, developed in partnership with three mechanical engineering specialists in the field of production processes, Pinette P.E.I, Compose and Loiretech. The module has been named “Quilted Stratum Process”, and produces “net shape” ready-to-assemble parts.

The “Quilted Stratum Process” (QSP) is a breakthrough approach for high performance thermoplastic composites and multi material parts design and production. This global new concept reaches the goal of combination of high performance, low cost and short cycle time simultaneously. The partners of this project imagined the concept two years ago and now provide an automatic production line ready for developing and producing industrial prototypes for Automotive and Aeronautic markets.

The “QSP” provide net shape part ready for assembly in a very short cycle time for high volume capacity, with quality repeatability and robustness at global cost efficiency.

The “QSP” provides the following performances for automotive requirements:

  • Production of variable thickness parts with customized multi-layer orientations
  • Using multi-fibers and polymers from hybrid pultruded tapes
  • Cycle time from 40s to 90s including preform realization, heating, transfer & thermoforming/overmolding for high volumes
  • A competitive production cost with 5€ overcost per kilogram saved.

The “QSP” provide a major advantage for the composite materials against the others solutions. However, “QSP” isn’t the result of a dogmatic material approach. It gives the capacity to the engineer to design an integrated multi material part with the right material at the right place.

The mechanical strength envelope shows the local areas where there is anisotropy resistance or not and the level of stress :

  • For the areas with high level of anisotropy, the carbon fibers are usually used when you need high resistance or stiffness and glass fibers or bio sourcing fibers for lower requirements
  • For the areas without anisotropy, the steels, aluminum and magnesium can be used as well depending on the level of stress
  • For the areas which require specific functionality, using of short fibers reinforced polymers.

The “QSP” provides the right solution of mixing all these requirement and materials for an optimized result in performance, cost and cycle time.

High potential markets
The use of composite materials for the lightening of structural parts becomes a priority axis for many markets. The “QSP” brings improvements for automotive and aeronautics applications.

Automotive EOM and tier 1 suppliers are looking for cost driven structural lightweight parts with high production rate process.

Aeronautics industry is living a global ramp up production period. Cycle time and production cost becomes key performance indicators for each company of the network.

On a broader scale, all the mechanical engineering industry can take benefit from this global innovation for applications such as lifting, agricultural and civil engineering equipment’s.

A long term project
The project initiated by CETIM started at the end in 2012 based on the “from raw materials to net shape part” concept, the project has been fully developed since beginning 2013. The complete process has been developed in parallel phases to get all the pilot line with operational equipment ready beginning 2015.

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