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Ultra-fast consolidator machine system

News International-French

8 Mar 2019

Modular production system for the mass-production of individual tailored blanks based on a piece flow approach in combination with laser-assisted thermoplastic tape placement with in-situ consolidation.

Ultra-fast consolidator machine system

Ultra-fast consolidator machine system

The latest laminate production technologies using thermoplastic tapes are limited in terms of productivity because the table-based processing principle uses a moving table or a robot system in combination with a tape placement applicator system. This offers a very high flexibility but is not suitable for mass production.

The new ultra-fast consolidator machine offers both high flexibility and mass production. Fully-consolidated multi-layer laminates with different fibre directions and minimized waste (tailored blanks) can be produced in cycle times under 5 seconds for the first time, whereas the most recent machines need several minutes. This is accomplished by a new piece-flow principle which is state of the art in the printing industry but has not been used in composite production.

Key Benefits:
> Mass production of thermoplastic tailored laminates: >500 kg/hour
> Cycle time <5 seconds (state of the art: several minutes)
> Using in-situ consolidation: fast, flexible and energy efficient
> Laser-safe configurable, flexible production system with piece-flow principle
> Enabling new business models such as stiffening structures for injection moulding

Process results: Fully in-situ consolidated TP-FRP laminates

Process results: Fully in-situ consolidated TP-FRP laminates

The production principle is based on moving carrier plates (for the transportation of the laminates), which are moved by a conveyor system and fed through several applicator stations. Each applicator station is equipped with innovative narrow applicator cassettes for laser-assisted tape placement with on-the-fly cut-and-add. The applicator cassettes are 50 mm wide and can process a tape width of 25 mm. Larger tape widths are also possible as the applicator cassettes are scalable.

The cassettes in each station can be relocated in the Y direction right before the moving carriers are fed through the applicator station in the X direction. Before each station, the carrier can be turned at a precise angle so that each applicator station can process one tape direction (fibre angle). The new machine system is modularly scalable: multiple application stations can be added (e.g. for each layer one application station for mass production) or the machine can be configured with one or two applicator stations with a conveyor carrousel where the carriers are moved multiple times through the application stations.

This innovation has been selected as a finalist for the JEC Innovation Awards 2019 in the Industry & Equipment category.

The JEC Innovation Awards - organized by the JEC Group - are recognized as the industry’s most prestigious awards that identify, promote and reward the most innovative composite projects worldwide.

The award winners will be announced during JEC World 2019 on 13 March at 4.30pm.

AZL AACHEN GMBH will showcase their innovation at JEC World 2019 at Booth D17, Pavilion 6. Their associated partners are: Aachen University, Conbility GmbH, Covestro Deutschland AG, Engel Austria GmbH, Evonik Industries AG, Fagor Arrasate S. Coop., Faurecia Composite Technologies, Fraunhofer IPT, Laserline GmbH, Mitsui Chemicals Europe GmbH, Mubea Carbo Tech GmbH, Philips Photonics, SSDT Shanghai Superior Die Technology Co., Ltd., Toyota Motor Europe NV/SA.