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14th March 2019, Paris

Fagor Arrasate’s collaborative project recognised at JEC World

Estibalitz Arregi, Composites Business Unit Manager, Andoitz Aranburu, Head of Automative Innovation, Javier Acosta, Composites Solutions, and Baltasar Perez, Head of Internationalization & Communication. © Fagor Arrasate

Estibalitz Arregi, Composites Business Unit Manager, Andoitz Aranburu, Head of Automative Innovation, Javier Acosta, Composites Solutions, and Baltasar Perez, Head of Internationalization & Communication. © Fagor Arrasate

Fagor Arrasate's commitment to innovation has received recognition from JEC, the leading international composites fair that is held in Paris this week. A project led by AZL Aachen, the international benchmark research centre for lightweight materials, in which Fagor Arrasate contributes as an associated partner, has won the JEC Innovation Awards in the Industry and Equipment category.

The project aimed at the manufacture of an ultra-fast machine (up to 500 kg/hour for the prototype) for the mass production of individual customised preforms, based on a part flow approach in combination with the placement of unidirectional tapes (in dry fibre, thermoplastic, prepreg...) by laser-assisted in situ consolidation.

The main benefits of this machine are its high production rate (>500 kg/hour) and low cycle time (<5 seconds). In addition, it is characterised by its energy efficiency, flexibility and fastness due to the use of in-situ consolidation. Besides, it is suitable for flexible production system with piece-flow principle, enabling new business models such as stiffening structures for injection and compression moulding.

Flexibility and mass production

This new ultra-fast consolidator machine offers both high flexibility and mass production. Fully-consolidated multi-layer laminates with different fibre directions and minimized waste (tailored blanks) can be produced in cycle times under 5 seconds for the first time, whereas the most recent machines need several minutes. This is accomplished by a new piece-flow principle which is state of the art in the printing industry but has not been used in composite production.

At the show, the manufacturer is presenting its latest innovations for the composites industry. © Fagor Arrasate

At the show, the manufacturer is presenting its latest innovations for the composites industry. © Fagor Arrasate

The production principle is based on moving carrier plates (for the transportation of the laminates), which are moved by a conveyor system and fed through several applicator stations. Each applicator station is equipped with innovative narrow applicator cassettes for laser-assisted tape placement with on-the-fly cut-and-add. The applicator cassettes are 50 mm wide and can process a tape width of 25 mm. Larger tape widths are also possible as the applicator cassettes are scalable.

Latest innovations on show

At the show, the manufacturer is presenting its latest innovations for the composites industry. The showpieces are a series of prototypes made for the automotive sector to illustrate competitive manufacturing processes with a high level of automation that seek to reduce the typical manufacturing costs. This includes a hybrid leaf spring for heavy trucks, which combines composite and steel sheet. This construction reduces the weight of the component by as much as 40%, improving the overall efficiency of the vehicle, according to the company.

A bonnet of a Maserati made in the framework of the European Eurostars programme is also on display. This three-year long project opted for the use of the Compression Resin Transfer Moulding (C-RTM) technique to manufacture a bonnet with a complex geometric shape and a high-quality aesthetic finish.

The showpieces are a series of prototypes made for the automotive sector. © Fagor Arrasate

The showpieces are a series of prototypes made for the automotive sector. © Fagor Arrasate

The third piece exhibited is a cargo barrier, developed in a joint project with Grupo Antolín. For the patented Novaform Plus process, Fagor Arrasate designed the production line and required equipment, resulting in a single-stage process to manufacture structural parts of thermoplastic material, thereby improving the productivity and profitability of the process.

Finally, the company is showing a preform of an anti-intrusion bar manufactured in an automatic cell. The manufacturing process is based on a multiaxial carbon fibre fabric, which is then treated in an infrared oven. Once high temperatures have been reached, the desired 3D shape is obtained with a mould. One of the great novelties in this process was the inclusion of a transfer system for quick part handling and a robot with ultrasonic blade for the removal of excess material, the company explains.

www.fagorarrasate.com

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