Fraunhofer and Conbility join forces to commercialize tape layer

Two AZL Aachen GmbH partners have joined forces for commercialization of a tape-placement and tape winding system.

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Two AZL Aachen GmbH (Aachen, Germany) partners have joined forces for commercialization of a tape-placement and tape winding system. The two companies, Conbility GmbH (Aachen, Germany) and Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology (IPT, Aachen, Germany) started their long-term cooperation for the further development and for the commercialization of Fraunhofer´s tape-placement and tape winding systems with in-situ-consolidation via laser or IR heat sources.

With this cooperation, Conbility makes 25 years of expertise in special machine development of tape placement systems for Fraunhofer IPT commercially available. Conbility offers two different tape processing systems in different configurations. The “PrePro 2D” machine system allows for the automated tailored tape placement of UD laminates, which can be used for subsequent thermoforming or as stiffening structures in injection molding processes, or overmolding. The machine comprises a rotating and translational table that moves relative to the applicator station, and which is scalable according to the requirements of customers. Standard table diameters are 1200 mm or 2000 mm. The applicator station can be equipped with a single or with multiple spool applicators. Because of the large process area, a 9 kW IR heater is used for the in-situ-consolidation process. 

The award-winning “PrePro 3D” tape placement and winding applicator is available as a modular product with a de-centralized control system (including closed-loop control of energy input into the processing zone) for “plug-in” implementation in existing robot systems or machine systems via standard interfaces for communication with the master control system. Conbility provides the single applicator as well as turn-key ready systems including the robot and handling systems. The unique selling point of the PrePro 3D system is its multifunctional range of usage: it accomplishes laser-assisted thermoplastic tape placement, IR-assisted thermoset prepreg placement and dry fiber placement, in one single modular system. 

During the JEC World in Paris (March 6 – 8, 2018), Conbility will present its new “VCSEL Tape Placement and Winding Applicator”, developed in cooperation with Fraunhofer IPT and Philips Photonics (Amsterdam, Netherlands) at the AZL Composites in Action area (Hall 5A, C55). This applicator uses an integrated VCSEL (Vertical-Cavity Surface Emitting Laser) system as the heat source, developed by Philips Photonics. This tape placement and winding applicator can also be integrated as modular “plug-in” system into industrial jointed-arm and linear gantry robots in variable manufacturing cells. Using the new VCSEL laser as the heat source leads to significantly lower investment and process costs in comparison to other laser systems.