Textile innovations through customized carbon fibers
One option for processing carbon fibers is to manufacture textile “preforms”, which are required as a precursor step in the production of CFRP components. As a textile production method, 3-d braiding technology has proven to be an effective technique for producing complex shaped, profiled preforms. With 3-d braiding technology, the rovings (fiber bundles) are braided directly onto a core that is molded in the form of the final shape, and the resultant preform is then treated with resin and cured. In recent years, advancements in the technology have made it economically feasible to produce components for high-end small series. However, only expensive 1K, 3K, 6K, 12K and 24K rovings (1K equals 1000 individual filaments) available on the market can be processed using this technology. A method for using cost-efficient 50K rovings (1K equals 1000 individual filaments) and the less expensive intermediate sizes made from them has not yet been realized and implemented. The cost-effective manufacturing of larger quantities is currently not possible and the limited range of available rovings puts a cap on the wall thicknesses of the preforms.
The aim of the project is therefore to produce customized carbon fiber rovings from inexpensive 50K fibers that are not yet commercially available. In order to achieve this goal, a spreading method adapted to 50K fibers, a cutting and winding system, and a downstream textile twisting process will be developed within the scope of the project. The application potential of the new roving will be examined on the basis of the 3-d braiding technology and additionally evaluated with regard to the weaving process. For each process step, material properties will be ascertained and processing properties will be analyzed.
Figure: Principle of 3-d braiding technology
By developing customized carbon fiber rovings made from 50K fibers, the goal is to provide new, low-cost primary materials that can be used for producing textile preforms in the future. If the project is successful, the resultant improvement in cost efficiency should help increase the market penetration of CFRP components. The project will boost the innovative power of the three participating SMEs as well as the MAI Carbon cluster, which will increase the competitiveness of the MAI region in the long run and secure jobs in Germany.