New Opportunities in Lightweight Automotive Design

Automated Plants for Composite Components

From March 14 to 16, Dieffenbacher will present new and improved plants for the production of fiber-reinforced plastic components at its stand F63 in Hall 6 at JEC 2017 in Paris. Innovative technologies for tape layup, preform and wet molding processes increase efficiency in lightweight design.

Dieffenbacher is a system supplier of automated, turnkey production plants for the manufacture of composite components for the automotive industry. The innovations unveiled at JEC will enable shorter cycle times and more efficient manufacturing processes. As a result, fiber-reinforced components will become suitable for use in large-scale production within the middle and lower market segments of the automotive industry.

Faster and More Precise Tape Layup Process with the Tailored Blank Line

Fiberforge Tapelegeanlage

Fiberforge is the fastest tape layup plant in the world: Tapes can be laid according to a defined pattern in less than a second.

The Dieffenbacher tailored blank line consisting of Fiberforge and Fibercon is a new solution for large-series production of locally reinforced thermoplastic components.

Fiberforge is the fastest tape layup plant in the world. It produces near-net-shaped layups from carbon or glass fiber tapes in the first step of the manufacturing process. A layup cycle lasts one second, during which the tapes are laid according to a defined pattern. The tapes are rolled up on coils. The Fiberforge plant can accommodate four of these coils. This enables a blend of different materials to be used in a single tape layup, as well as the use of tapes with different widths and thicknesses.

Using a new angle cutting system, the start and end of the tape can be cut either straight or at an angle of minus to plus 45 degrees. Precise, near-net-shaped tape layup reduces the amount of waste. An automatic coil-changing system ensures uninterrupted production.

The next step in the manufacturing process of locally reinforced components is vacuum-assisted consolidation of the layup to the tailored blank. The tape layup is consolidated to the near-net-shaped laminate using the supplementary Fibercon process line. The Fibercon can pick up multiple layups all at once and is characterized by very short cycle times. The vacuum system minimizes trapped air and material defects, resulting in excellent laminate quality.

Together with downstream systems such as handling robots and a forming press, Fiberforge and Fibercon offer a production capacity of more than one million components per year.

Preform Process: Simplified Production with Sub-Preforms

PreformCenter

The Dieffenbacher PreformCenter enables near-net-shaped mapping of the later component with minimum waste.

Dieffenbacher supplies plants for the preform manufacture of glass-fiber and carbon-fiber components. Thanks to technological developments, multiple individual preforms can now be manufactured in just one duty cycle. The three-dimensional preforms are then pressed into lightweight components with no additional joining process required. Dividing complex preforms into individual sub preforms reduces the level of complexity in production. With this technology, frame components can be manufactured with low material loss and with fiber orientation suited to the load path. The entire process—from manufacturing the sub preform to joining in the press—is fully automatic.

Wet Molding Process: A Cost-Effective Alternative for High-Load-Bearing Components

Nasspresslinie

Wet molding is used to manufacture carbon fiber components with low three-dimensional complexity, such as vehicle drive tunnels or reinforcements in the roof area.

Wet molding is used for the manufacture of carbon fiber components with low three-dimensional complexity. This includes structural components such as vehicle drive tunnels and reinforcements in the roof area which must be able to withstand particularly high loads. For these components, wet molding offers a cost-effective alternative with a simpler process chain. In contrast to resin transfer molding (RTM), the resin mixture in wet molding—usually epoxy resin—is applied to the carbon fiber fabric outside of the press. The advantage is that application can take place while other components cure in the press. High carbon costs are offset by short cycle times and thus higher volumes.