Thermoplastic composites (TPCs) combine favorable mechanical properties with a great potential for durable, circular and material-efficient products and production processes. This is why TPC’s are widely used nowadays in aerospace and automotive industries. Also in other industries, the potential with TPC’s has been recognized. However, the penetration rate is still low due to financial and technical boundaries, e.g. the lack of low-cost, high-volume production processes.
In the finished project ‘3DComp’ (SIA 2014-01-19M), 3D print technologies have been successfully developed to produce continuous fiber reinforced parts using such glass/PP tapes. These parts were then directly inserted in the mold to produce a plastic product, thereby acting as local reinforcement to the product. Several technologies were tested, including pressing, injection molding, rotation molding and casting. Hence, a proven cost-effective basis for (local) fiber reinforcement was provided. Technical issues remained however, which resulted in the TPC Future project.
The TPC Future project first aims at adding several functions to the 3D printer. These include automatic cutting of the tape and increasing the speed and temperature range. Also, a second print head for non-reinforced plastic will be added to produce add-ons to the reinforced part in the same process step, that improve the handling and positioning of the part. Secondly, bonding will be investigated. This includes both bonding of the reinforced tape to the surface (mold or previous layer of tape) and using the tape to bond parts or reinforce bonds between parts. The third major theme of the project is automation. The goal is to implement collaboration between machines, with direct input from CAD-files, using one common language and with the help of Vision-systems. This should result in fully autonomous production cells e.g. consisting of a 3D-printer, pick-and-place robot and an injection molding machine.
Allseas, Cato Composite Innovations, Demcon, Fawic, Flevobike, KVE, Pontis Enginering, Quadrant EPP, save plastics, Timmerije
2 years, Start in Spring 2017
RAAK-MKB subsidy, financed by Regieorgaan SIA, part of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO)
For more information about this project, please click here.