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UD-tape based reinforced thermoplastics: high performance composites within 60 to 90 seconds

News International-French

13 Feb 2017

Neue Materialien Bayreuth GmbH (NMB), a non-adademic research company, has recently augmented its fibre-reinforced plastics processing technology to cover the complete process chain from tapes and organosheets to final parts. FORCE (Functionalized Oriented Composites) stands for a novel industrial-scale process for high performance production of structural components based on fibre reinforced thermoplastics at cycle times between 60 and 90 s.

FORCE-Placement: Multiaxial tape layup machine for minimal scrap and cycle times
FORCE comprises a multiaxial tape layup machine as preforming station, a double-belt press for pre-consolidation and a production cell centred around a customized vertical compression injection molding machine.

The unique prototype multiaxial tape layup machine is characterized by a double tape-feeder and two tables which enable load optimized preforming of UD-tapes with minimal scrap. For pre-consolidation a double-belt press with maximum working width of 1,600 mm is used. NMB´s tailor made fully automated production cell consists of a paternoster convection oven and an IR-heating station feeding a vertical compression injection molding unit with 2,500t clamping force. The processing chain is designed to be able to realize cycle times between 60 and 90s.

FORCE-Con: Double-belt press for pre-consolidation of thermoplastic lay-ups
The FORCE processing chain enables NMB to provide an innovative technical platform for R&D activities on materials and processes for series production to industrial as well as academic partners.

In a close research collaboration between INEOS Styrolution and NMB the FORCE-Molding equipment has recently made major contribution to the development of a new generation of thermoplastic composites. The first thermoplastic composite based on styrenic polymers, called StyLight, is made of glass or carbon fiber fabric, woven or NCF, in a modified SAN matrix. StyLight allows the perfect combination of structural and aesthetic for high-performance products with outstanding surface quality. NMB will show a part demonstrator of this new styrenic polymer thermoplastic composite produced using the FORCE-Molding technology at JEC World 2017.

FORCE-Molding: Industrial scale automatized compression injection molding cell for high performance
Furthermore, current research at NMB focuses on the manufacturing of thermoplastic sandwich structures without using adhesive layers. A major research interest in this area is the processing of foam core materials based on engineering and high-temperature plastics, such as expanded PBT (EPBT). Additionally, current activities aim on functional integration of sandwich structures using insitu injection molding or steamless insitu particle foaming.