The Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy Systems IWES completed the BladeFactory project in October, an important occasion to look back on the results together with project partners and guests from the wind energy industry and research.
Rotor blades account for around 20% of the total costs of a wind turbine. With the help of new materials and optimized processes, the production process is to be further optimized and quality increased, as there is still considerable potential for optimization in the production chain. The aim is to manufacture rotor blades for wind turbines more sustainably, faster and more reliably - at the lowest possible cost.
As part of the BladeMaker research project, the Fraunhofer IWES has set up and commissioned the BladeMaker demo center in Bremerhaven over the last ten years, creating a realistic test environment in which holistic processes can be developed to further automate and industrialize rotor blade production. The scientists are looking at the rotor blade design, materials and manufacturing processes and examining how potential automation can be implemented.
Automated Solutions for Blade Production
The aim of the scientists in the subsequent BladeFactory project was to further develop and parallelize the sub-processes and procedures. The individual process steps are to be integrated step by step into a coherent overall process: The automated process of so-called 'preforming', the automatic depositing and draping of fiber fabrics and core materials, and 'prefabbing', the prefabrication of rotor blade components, have been developed over the last five years. These processes also help to reduce production time, as they can be outsourced from the main blade forming tool and thus implemented in parallel.
Heiko Rosemann, Project Manager at Fraunhofer IWES, explains at the final conference: "Today we are celebrating the milestones of the last ten years. With our processes, we have been able to make a significant contribution to reducing the production times for rotor blades and at the same time increase the quality of the component. This reduces the risk of expensive reworking and material surcharges for the customer. We can produce a mold directly and also control and shorten the adhesive curing process using an integrated cooling function. With the help of our adhesive applicator, the 'Variable Glue Applicator', it is no longer necessary to change tools when gluing the shells and up to 20% of adhesive can be saved. We are proud of what we have achieved and look forward to working with the industry to develop solutions for the challenges ahead. ″