Bringing fiber-reinforced composites to series production readiness with resource efficiency
Due to their unique properties, fiber-reinforced composites have become a central pillar in the future production of lightweight products. Today’s production processes can only partly fulfil the required demands regarding economic efficiency, process safety and necessary cycle times, when it comes to large quantity series production. The finishing of fiber-reinforced composites is a necessary sub-step, which on the one hand presents a problem when it comes to an optimised work process for high quality but at the same time economic efficient processing of fiber-reinforced plastics and on the other hand the life cycle times of the currently available tools are insufficient.
In the submitted application MAI Span, the improvement potential of dry and wet machining for the resource efficient processing of fiber-reinforced composites will be analysed and evaluated. Because CFRP parts are mostly machined with regard to edge trim, joints and sections, a requirements analysis will be created for these process alternatives. The idea with dry processing is an increase of the processing efficiency through chip capture both for the computer controlled CNC and robot machining as well as processing by means of hand tools. Thanks to the development of a hybrid lightweight construction chuck with integrated suction channels, the process safety, processing quality as well as the reduction of dust pollution should be increased. Wet machining is still regarded as a very promising method for the increase of tool life cycle times and productivity. Under the application of cooling lubrication fluids, all process components will be systematically examined and customised to the process. The aim of the MAI Span project is the creation of specifications, which will be used as the basis of an informed choice of machining process to match the requirements.
Figure: Process alternatives - Dry and wet machining of CFRP
(Source: Fraunhofer IPA / Rainer Bez)
The process technology solutions provided for in the MAI Span project will not only be a worthwhile contribution towards increasing general acceptance in the finishing processes of fiber-reinforced composites, but also towards energy savings and therefore the future preparation of cost effective CFRP components. Through reduced wear on tools and an increase in operating speeds, a cost reduction in the finishing process of fiber-reinforced composites of 50% is expected. The project is therefore an important component for the overall aim of the BMBF leading edge cluster MAI Carbon, and the build-up of innovative CFRP finishing technologies and process chains.