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19th March 2018, Saerbeck

Saertex on the road to zero defects

A new smart defect control process has been introduced by Saertex to improve the quality of its multiaxial carbon-fibre fabrics.

Surface damage to non-crimp-fabrics has previously been difficult to identify with a high degree of precision but the system examines the structure of the non-crimp-fabric and reveals gaps, undulations and other potential deviations from specifications.

The unique process makes it possible to subject carbon fabrics to automated and continuous quality assurance, without causing direct damage to the materials. © Saertex

The unique process makes it possible to subject carbon fabrics to automated and continuous quality assurance, without causing direct damage to the materials.

During production, the non-crimp-fabrics are now subjected to quality control measures that meet the exacting requirements of the aerospace industry, as well as other demanding industrial applications.

Multiaxial reinforcement materials are quasi-isotropic textile structures made up of multiple unidirectional layers that are laid over each other in different orientations and stitched together. The more demanding the application for these materials, the more important it becomes to avoid even smaller defects in the textile structure. Quality control currently takes the form of many manual and complex work steps resulting in additional time and labour costs, especially in the downstream customer processes.

For many years, the industry has made efforts to develop an automated process for the zero-defect production of composite materials which Saertex believes it has now taken a key step on the road to achieving. 

“The intelligent combination of production and digitization technologies with our materials know-how has led us to this innovation,” explains Saertex chief technology officer Dietmar Möcke. “We employ the new smart quality-control process in the manufacture of three and four-layer Saertex carbon fabrics and are currently capable of identifying gaps of greater than 2mm. The results are continuously improving as a result of our ongoing development work.”

Alongside gaps between the fibre strands, other defects can also be clearly identified, such as the homogeneity of threads or undulations within internal layers of the fabric. It is possible to take immediate corrective action in the manufacturing process and the location of the defect is, for instance, automatically transferred to the roll reports.

“Reliable quality facilitated by the smart defect control will make a breakthrough possible for triaxial and quadriaxial fabrics in many carbon applications,” says Möcke. “They can offer an attractive alternative to double-layer biaxial materials used in the past.”

“Airbus already employs our materials inspected using the new process in series production and the feedback has been very positive,” adds chief sales officer Christoph Geyer. “At JEC World in Paris there was a great deal of interest among users in the aerospace, medical technology and automotive sectors.”

Headquartered in Saerbeck, Germany, Saertex is family-owned company with a turnover of approximately EUR 350 million and a global market leader in multiaxial non-crimp fabrics and core materials.

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