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Unidirectional Tapes Efficiently Optimise Composite Components

16 October 2012

Ticona is involved in a study exploring how a specially adapted manufacturing method may combine various semi-finished products of glass fibre reinforced unidirectional tapes with a D-LFT composite material.

One outcome is a mechanically optimised vehicle under-body evidencing an economically efficient manufacturing method that provides much freedom of design.

Strict emission limits and a demand for low fuel consumption at undiminished levels of safety, efficiency and aesthetics challenge the automotive industry for new solutions. Composite materials are key to facing this challenge. They enable the manufacture of lightweight high-quality components with excellent mechanical properties. But the mechanical properties hitherto available on the market still left much room for improvement.

The study explored new ways of cost-efficiently producing improved components of thermoplastic fibre reinforced composites. In its efforts, Ticona teamed with Oxeon and Fiberforge who developed the patented method of preforming and laying unidirectional tapes. The project team was further assisted by Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology.

Ticona explains that the outcome was a vehicle under-body very efficiently manufactured by means of the D-LFT method. Although chosen by the team, this method is but an example of others.

Embedding semi-finished products made of unidirectional tapes essentially improved the strength of the under-body by weaving in glass fibre reinforced prepreg tapes supplied by Ticona. This tape fabric provides a laminar reinforcement of the entire under-body. Ticona’s composite material used for the purpose is easy to process and adds extremely high strength and rigidity to the components. Another semi-finished Celstran composite product was applied to give certain areas of the under-body additional local strength and to provide options of mechanical integration. Local reinforcement was achieved by means of the patented Fiberforge method which consists of consolidating multiple layers of composite material and exposing them to heat for moulding. It allowed the fast manufacture of even highly complex three-dimensional shapes with varying thicknesses while maintaining a high quality of the product. Making the under-body was finished off by the use of impact extrusion to integrate the semi-finished products in the component.

The vehicle under-body is the successful result of an efficient manufacturing process designed and dedicated to optimising components made of polymer materials. Although chosen by the team, Ticona explains that this method is but an example of others. Ticona’s continuous fibre reinforced composites provide different ways of improving the strength and rigidity of components while considerably reducing wall thicknesses and, thus, the component weight. All manufacturing methods deployed are also efficient state-of-the-art methods fit for series production.





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