German composites and plastics machinery manufacturer Dieffenbacher (Windsor, Ontario, Canada; Eppingen, Germany) reported on Sept. 13 that it has acquired the Relay automated tape layout technology developed by recently defunct Fiberforge (Glenwood Springs, Colo., USA).
With the acquisition, Dieffenbacher says it is investing in the automated tape placement technology, and thus adding a key technology to its product portfolio in the growing market for thermoplastic structural components for lightweight design.
The tape layup technology facilitates the manufacture of components made from continuous-fiber-reinforced thermoplastics based on unidirectional (UD) fiber tapes. Such components are of major interest to both the aviation industry and in the field of lightweight automotive design. Fiber tapes are available in a wide range of material combinations with different resin system and fiber materials like glass fibers or carbon fibers. The UD fiber loading has typically extremely high fiber weight contents of between 60 percent and 70 percent.
In addition to applications using fiber tape structures alone, Dieffenbacher is planning to integrate the tape layup technology into its long-fiber thermoplastic direct (LFT-D) system to create Tailored LFT-D technology. By combining these materials, components with local UD fiber-tape reinforcement for specific applications can be manufactured. These components can subsequently be integrated into large-scale production to achieve high levels of structural rigidity at a low cost.
Dieffenbacher says the process provides a high degree of flexibility when it comes to the structural design of the components. As a result, several material variants can be manufactured economically on a single system.