Fiberforge (Glenwood Springs, Colo., USA) reported on Nov. 7 that it has installed its first RELAY Station in Europe — the RELAY Station 2000 at Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology (ICT) in Pfinztal, Germany.
Fraunhofer ICT will use Fiberforge’s RELAY Station 2000 – the largest in the world – at its state-of-the-art thermoplastics research center to conduct research and development projects for various industries, including automotive and aerospace. The RELAY Station 2000 offers users the ability to develop and demonstrate the production of thermoplastic advanced composite structures upward of 2m by 2m (80 in by 80 in) on a full-scale production work cell.
The RELAY (rapid, efficient layup) Station creates tailored multi-ply preforms from unidirectional thermoplastic prepreg tape that can then be formed into a final part. Unidirectional tape combines a reinforcing fiber, such as glass and carbon fiber, with thermoplastic resin types, such as polypropylene, polyamide or PEEK. Tailored Blanks can be made with varying thickness and fiber orientation to maximize structural performance. The automated RELAY Station reduces the labor intensity of advanced composite part manufacturing, thus expanding the commercial reach of these materials into higher-volume markets and products. Tailored blanks also can be incorporated into injection and compression-molded parts as inserts for improved strength and cost efficiency.
“Fiberforge’s innovative tape layup process opens up new possibilities for producing thermoplastic advanced composite parts in a fast and automated process,” says. Dr.-Ing. Frank Henning, deputy director of Fraunhofer ICT. “Combined with our expertise in other thermoplastic processing technologies, Fiberforge’s RELAY Station will expand our portfolio in the research and development of methods, materials and process technologies for fiber-reinforced plastics.”
Dr. Simon Jespersen, director of Fiberforge GmbH, says "Making the RELAY 2000 technology available at the ICT gives the industry an unforeseen degree of possibilities for using tailoring local reinforcements even in high production volumes. The Relay Station 2000 is state-of-the-art equipment which delivers unprecedented precision, speed and flexibility for a wide range of applications."
Editor PickAutocomposites and the myth of $5/lb carbon fiber
The $5/lb line in the sand comes with a similar challenge that, ultimately, will determine the fate of carbon fiber in automotive: Manufacturability.