The single-stage direct processing technology
The production of thermoplastic prepegs suitable for fibres and processes as a large-scale technology was studied and developed in the thermoPre® innovative, regional growth core (2013 - 2015). This focused on single-stage direct manufacturing “in a single heating procedure”, which combines the previously separated process stages for prepeg production in one system.
The systems technology required for this is modular and structured as an end-to-end process chain; it starts with the reinforcement fibres, continues to the thermoplastic, continuous, fibre-reinforced prepegs and even includes components able to withstand high stress levels. Sample components already made clearly show the improvement in performance that is available with thermoPre®, along with the reduction in costs.
The thermoPre® growth core was subdivided into 7 R&D network projects. The major focus was on the technology projects to study and develop the single-stage, direct manufacturing and “contitaping” technologies.
Using the “contitaping” method, it is possible to manufacture robust, multi-layer composites (organic sheeting) in one continuous process; they may have several layers of continuous, fibre-reinforced thermoplastic thermoPre® prepegs, for example.
Using well-established further processing technologies, new production methods were developed in four project-wide applications - and the complete value-added chain was optimised at the same time. The design and simulation of the new thermoPre® composites and components and the technical harmonisation of the individual plant modules are extremely important. The first selected material cards are already available. Most component examples and many current applications come from the automotive and commercial vehicle sector.
The companies and research institutions in the thermoPre® interdisciplinary network are seeking to continue the R&D activities from the growth core and have joined forces in the thermoPre e.V. research network. One major goal involves developing adaptive technologies to perfect the process chain for manufacturing fibre-reinforced thermoplastic prepegs and components.