Resource-efficient manufacturing of CFRP components
The automotive industry is intensively seeking ways to produce lightweight components made from carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP) not only efficiently but also with short cycle times. A very promising approach is the direct processing of ‘carbon fiber (CF) rovings’. For this purpose, a method is known in which rovings are impregnated with resin, processed into plates in a winding process and, in a subsequent hot pressing process, molded and cured into three-dimensionally shaped components. Although this method has been known for more than 20 years and is already used for the production of smaller components and series, it does not have the technological maturity for industrial use. The reasons for this are a lack of adjustment of the materials, particularly of the resin system, to the specific requirements of the process, as well as many unsolved problems related to reliable handling in the process as a basis for automation. The complexity and number of these problems have so far prevented this method, which is highly attractive in terms of costs, from being used on a larger scale.
In the MAI AutoPreg project, this process (CPP: carbon preimpregnated pressforming) is to be systematically developed further and the materials and technologies used are to be adapted to each other in order to reach the technological maturity required for industrialization. The development work focuses on the development of a wetting unit adapted to the winding process, the development of a new matrix material, the development of a consistent machine technology including an adapted automation technology, and the development of an appropriate “handling system”. The technical feasibility will be tested through actual implementation and further advantages in terms of formability and waste reduction shall be investigated.
Figure (from left to right): Production of 2-d plates, subsequent processing in a press to form three-dimensional components
In case of success, the targeted developments could contribute to a higher market penetration of CFRP due to substantially-improved economic efficiency in the production of CFRP components. They will strengthen the scientific and technological expertise of the partners involved and of the MAI Carbon cluster, thus ensuring the competitiveness of the MAI region and Germany in the long term.