INOMETA – new business segment “Thermoplastics” brings thermoplastic composites into serial production
In the new “Thermoplastics” business segment, INOMETA offers components made of fibre-reinforced plastic and manufactured using a tape winding process.
During this process, fibre-reinforced tapes with a thermoplastic matrix are melted using a laser and positioned on a rotating mandrel by a robot-guided application tool. By investing in this machine technology, INOMETA is taking a leading role as a contract manufacturer for thermoplastic products and offering engineering and production capacities on the market.
The AVANCO Group offers a unique range of lightweight solutions. Within the group, DYNEXA provides expertise in the field of filament winding, which is well suited to the production of highly stressed, rotationally symmetrical structures such as drive shafts. While XELIS contributes many years of experience with the use of thermoplastic tapes for manufacturing complex profiles, with a focus on the aviation sector. With the new winding technology for thermoplastic tapes at INOMETA, the portfolio is expanded by geometrically closed profiles with a thermoplastic matrix. This means that we will be in an even better position to meet the individual demands from the industry for composite profiles.
During filament winding with a thermosetting resin system, the fibres are impregnated with the liquid matrix material shortly before they are deposited on the mandrel. This means that the winding process uses a “wet layup”, and the resin system still needs to be cured in a furnace afterwards. The ability to combine the materials shortly before this process offers a high degree of flexibility with regards to the selection of fibres and resin systems. Almost any combination is technically feasible. Furthermore, filament winding offers high material deposition rates. Structures with high wall thicknesses for applications subject to high mechanical stress can also be manufactured in a cost-effective way.
In contrast, thermoplastic winding uses pre-impregnated tapes, which are melted using a laser unit and firmly bonded to the rest of the material during the material deposition process. The tapes used are available in a wide range of fibre/matrix combinations. Subsequent cross-linking of the material is not necessary, which has a positive impact on cycle times. Thanks to their low thickness of just a few tenths of a millimetre, the tapes are especially well suited for the manufacture of components with low wall thickness and high tolerance requirements. This enables large batch size production of very thin profiles, which can then be cut to the target length in a fully automated process. In this way, the technology creates potentials in the industry for components that previously could not be produced as composite structures for reasons of economic efficiency.
Finally, there are also matrix-dependent material properties, which make the processes suitable for different applications. Thermoplastic composites can open up new possibilities in product and process design thanks to their distinctive material characteristics.
The weldability of the thermoplastic matrix polymer is an important characteristic that can also be utilised in the subsequent steps of the value chain. The components can be thermoformed, firmly bonded with other components, and overmoulded in an injection moulding process. This significantly increases design freedom. Thermoplastics also offer excellent temperature and media resistance, which means that they can still be used as a material in demanding conditions.
Concrete examples include rotor sleeves for electric drives that rotate at high speeds or rotor cans for hermetically sealed pumps. The maximum operating temperatures and resistance to chemicals play a crucial role here. The thin-walled design combined with the low conductivity of the composite material also increases the efficiency of the applications, due to the reduced eddy-current losses in the drive. Thanks to the high level of automation offered by our machine technology, we can now also produce these types of components in a cost-effective way.
Other areas of focus include components for aerospace applications. The batch sizes are usually much lower here, and there are special requirements regarding process monitoring and component precision tolerances in part processing. Quality monitoring is ensured by the comprehensive use of sensor technology in the production plant. Process parameters such as material temperature and consolidation pressure are monitored and documented and can be provided as customised production reports. As the precise processing of profiles has been a core competency of INOMETA for decades, individual machining of composite parts poses no problem for us.
In the classic INOMETA business, CFRP rollers have played a significant role for a long time. As a result, INOMETA already has several years of design experience for composites, which can also be utilised for thermoplastic structures. We are able to analyse an application idea in terms of its feasibility and economic efficiency at an early stage and transform it into a manufacturing concept according to the individual requirements. This means that customers do not need to have experience with the design or manufacture of composite materials in order approach us with an idea for a thermoplastic application. In fact, we see a great deal of potential in sectors where composite materials have not been used at all or only used to a limited extent. As a result of the introduction of thermoplastic winding, the technical and economic framework conditions for many applications have changed, with a shift towards composite materials.
All questions about thermoplastics products will be answered at K2019. Meetings can be arranged in advance. Please contact us!
Account Management Thermoplastic Winding
T +49 (5221) 777-268
M +49 (151) 580 440 268
See you at the K2019 - 16.-23.10.
INOMETA - Hall 4 Stand A43