Here’s an update from the sheet moulding compound market. Juliet Elliot reports
Sustainability is the phrase on everyone’s lips right now – and one area where improvements can be made is by making the best use of resources in the first place. This is what Dieffenbacher is trying to do with its Fiberforge tape laying system and its fully automatic SMC cutting and packaging system.
The Fiberforge system enables fully automated production of layups from thermoplastic UD tapes for small and large series production. Using a novel nesting method, the tapes are cut to the required length and combined in a lay-up in a load-oriented manner via a rotary table. Marco Hahn of the forming business unit explains, “In the process, the tape ends can be trimmed at any angle between plus or minus 45° to produce a contour with minimum waste, while different tape types – even with varying widths, thicknesses and reinforcing fibres – can be combined in one component without manual intervention. The high degree of automation enables consistent component quality and flexibility in component design.”
Citing a recent application with a client, he says users can achieve significant material savings compared with organo sheets.
“In one application, we achieved just 6.7% waste with the Fiberforge, while with the organo sheet there was more than 50% waste. In addition, the angle cut enables diagonal cuts of the tapes and thus saves valuable material,” continues Hahn.
By combining length and width cuts, the SMC cutting and packaging system can generate a variety of cutting patterns. In accordance with the desired lay pattern, the intelligent nesting control determines the cutting pattern to optimise material use. Weight deviations from the raw material are measured and actively compensated for in downstream stacking. Error-prone manual steps that could affect production quality are eliminated.
“When combined with our lay-up robotics and our stacking gantry, which is used to package individual blanks before they are inserted into the die, we can now accommodate more complex lay-up patterns,” concludes Hahn.