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Directed and three-dimensional placement of continuous fibres with the direction of forces enabling a significant reduction of costs and weight in carbon fibre components

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - 3D-Roving Deposition (Directed and three-dimensional placement of continuous fibres with the direction of forces enabling asignificant reduction of costs and weight in carbon fibre components)

Reporting period: 2017-09-01 to 2018-02-28

Following the trends towards energy and resource efficiency, lightweight construction is more and more in the focus of attention, especially in the automotive, aerospace and engineering markets. The main problem, however, is the still existing stress ratio between costs, weight and strength of the components. While a standardised production of simple composites is already possible, the manufacturing of highly stressed structural components based on carbon fibre reinforced plastics, which are becoming more and more market relevant, still poses a major challenge. Although it is possible to manufacture composites that show high specific strength and stiffness, this is linked to very high production costs and so far only possible for unidirectional fibres. However, for most structural components this is not sufficient, requiring the specific use of reinforcements or additional fibre systems. This is mostly related to additional manual work, leading to both, lower production speed and higher overall costs.

KEIM has developed a prototype for the three-dimensional placement of fibres in the direction of the force for the creation of the preform that is then finalised by using the hot-RTM process. The prototype is based on a robot that uses previously determined measurement data to perfectly place the fibres with regards to material usage, weight and stiffness, creating a three-dimensional preform with perfect properties. This preform is then introduced into the hot-RTM process in order to create highly stressed structural components. The functionality has already been tested thoroughly and demonstrated in an industrial environment. In addition, the process has been patented, securing the freedom to operate. In the feasibility study, the economic and technical validation of prototype and business planned will be performed, verifying the best-suited applications and key markets for the initial market introduction of this very innovative process.
During the phase 1-project technological applications have been identified, evaluated and prioritised and market and competitive landscape have been accessed leading to some very attractive market segments. For these market segments appropriate commercialisation strategies were created on basis of customer interviews and technical adaptions of the technology were derived. Finally, a business plan was elaborated to assess the profitability of the business innovation.
For simple structural components, the industrialisation of the production processes for medium-sized batches has recently begun. Here the focus is on partly automated RTM and compression moulding processes. However, these processes are still very limited regarding complexity and loadability of the produced components. In addition, significant amounts of material cutting waste and manual work are main drivers for the high production costs. The production process by KEIM will support the material efficient production of complex 3D structural components – whereof many could not be produced with lightweight materials before. The results are structural components with unmatched strength and stiffness values at significantly reduced costs and the exploitation of a wide field of new market applications.
KEIM 3D-Roving-Deposition