- Production of carbon fiber parts using the fiber placement process
- Standalone machining centre uses low-cost ‘towpreg’ materials
- Winner of JEC Innovation Award, Category: Process
The German company BA Composites has introduced a new machining centre designed for the production of carbon fiber parts using the fiber placement process. The fiber placement machining centre builds carbon fiber stacks, which are then molded.
Fiber placement technology reduces material scrap
High-volume production currently lacks a reliable system that can handle these materials with high efficiency and minimal material scrap. Fiber placement is the only technology that significantly reduces material scrap when producing shell-shaped parts. Most technical applications for lightweight construction, for example in the automotive and aerospace industries, are shell-shaped parts.
Textile production methods may produce more than 50% scrap
While textile production methods in automotive applications may produce more than 50% scrap, fiber placement would result in less than 5% scrap overall. Accordingly, fiber placement offers the design option to produce parts with variable wall thickness and local reinforcements.
The development of the fiber placement machining centre
Until now, there has been no breakthrough in the use of fiber placement in automotive production cycles, due to the limitations of current machines in regards to high-volume production. Due to the varying requirements of high-volume production, the design of a fiber placement machining centre had to be altered. The goal was to combine the advantages of fiber placement with the requirements of the automotive industry, thus addressing the question of how to create a robust production system that can process low-cost carbon fiber materials with minimal scrap.
Following these specific requirements, the design was driven in the direction of a standalone fiber placement machining centre that uses low-cost ‘towpreg’ materials and produces a carbon fiber stack. These stacks are easy to handle during the process and ready to mold into their final shape. Therefore, the required know-how was developed to combine the production requirements of both fiber placement with the material and the molding process.