Modular system for many materials: Fraunhofer IPT offers configurable tape placement head for serial manufacturing
Lightweight construction materials are gaining ground throughout industry and are powering their way into many everyday products from aerospace through oil and gas extraction to the automotive industry. If serial manufacture is to be efficient and cost-effective, however, it is vital to automate the manufacturing processes for lightweight components. The Fraunhofer Institute for Production technology IPT is gearing up for action with its “Multi-Material-Head”, a configurable tape placement system for the production of components made of unidirectional, continuous fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) and for localized reinforcement of components and semi-finished products made of FRP. The engineers from Aachen will be demonstrating the versatility of the multifunctional tape placement head, which can easily be integrated in various robot and portal systems, at Composites Europe 2014 from 7 - 9 October 2014 in Düsseldorf.
The compact tape placement head has a modular structure, permitting it to process unidirectional continuous fiber-reinforced thermoplastic tapes, duroplastic prepregs and dry fiber rovings on the same machine. The base platform, which can be adjusted to fit various robot and portal systems, can be equipped with interchangeable material feed and cutting units, cooling or heating elements as well as additional customized modules, depending on requirements.
Both laser systems and infrared emitters, for example, can be used as heat sources. The machine can thus be retooled swiftly to adapt to the processing requirements of thermoplastic tapes, duroplastic prepregs or dry fiber rovings. Consequently, the system is of particular interest to smaller companies or research institutes which will thus have access to three different technologies using only one machine.
One of the services, the Fraunhofer IPT offers its clients, is to customize the “Multi-Material-Head” and to supply the corresponding modules to meet user requirements. Depending on the intended use, an individual standard head or a complete system including robotics and kinematics can be configured specifically for a particular purpose by a team of developers at the Fraunhofer IPT.
The JEC Europe Innovation Award 2014 in the “Process” category was presented in Paris on 11 March 2014 to the development team led by Dr.-Ing. Michael Emonts from the Fraunhofer IPT and Coert Kok from the development partner AFPT, for the development of the “Multi-Material-Head”.