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INOMETA invests in new laser-assisted tape winding technology

Using the new automated manufacturing process, the company aims to expand its current thermoplastics product range with an eye toward mass production.

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INOMETA GmbH (Herford, Germany), a leader in lightweight construction, has announced it is expanding its portfolio with new equipment technology for the laser-assisted and robot-based winding of thermoplastic tapes. The technology is implemented through a collaboration with the specialized machine manufacturer AFPT GmbH (Doerth, Germany), a pioneer in automated tape placement and winding equipment. In mid-2019, the machine will be installed at INOMETA’s site in Herford.

In contrast to filament winding of thermoset-based products, thermoplastic laser-assisted tape winding is said to be a one-step, fully automated process that does not require a downstream curing process and reportedly reduces cycle times to enable an automated serial production. Furthermore, in thermoplastic winding, crucial quality parameters are already checked and documented during the manufacturing process. The laser heats and melts the thermoplastic tapes in a continuous process immediately before the precise robot-controlled tape winding sequence. Afterwards, the tape layers are welded together across the entire surface. According to INOMETA, the possibility of downstream functionalization, for example by injection molding, makes thermoplastics well suited for mass production and high volume quantities.

Using the new automated manufacturing process, INOMETA aims to expand its current product range with new applications with an eye toward mass production. In addition to current applications served by the existing product portfolio, thermoplastic lightweight components for series applications are designed, qualified and produced with partners from different industries. The applications range from inserts for a wide variety of injection molding processes to structural applications in the automotive and aerospace industry, as well as special components for the oil and gas sector, to large scale industrial applications in the fields of premium power tools and pump and vacuum technology equipment. 

For more information on advancements in composite winding technology, see “Filament winding, reinvented”.

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