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17-09-2019 | Materials Technology | News | Article

Automated Post-Processing of Milled CFRP Components

Thomas Siebel

A new machine, developed at Fraunhofer IPA in Stuttgart, Germany, can not only precisely mill carbon fibre reinforced polymer (CFRP) components, but also postprocess them up to 50% more economically. 

The machine was developed by Fraunhofer IPA in conjunction with the Homag Group and other partners from industry, and automatically measures CFRP components after the milling process before sealing them. An abrasive brush is then used to remove any remaining loose fibres. Extraction jets blast away the fine CFRP dust into an extraction system, which filters out the dust before releasing the air into the environment, preventing wear on the machine. A sensor then scans the CFRP component using strip light projection technology. This generates a point cloud which enables special algorithms to detect any variation from the ideal contouring for the component concerned. If the variations are within the defined tolerance range, the processing machine will subsequently seal the edges using a liquid paint. The component is then irradiated with UV light and hardened immediately.

Many milled components are still currently processed manually, which is not a reliable process, firstly because individual workers may assess the same edge differently on a subjective basis, and secondly because the fine CFRP dust generated during the milling process is harmful to health. Thanks to automated post-processing, and therefore fewer processing, personnel and lower storage costs, this newly developed machine concept cuts production costs in half. Besides Fraunhofer IPA and Homag, Audi, Carl Zeiss Automated Inspection, Krautzberger, and IST Metz were involved in the development of the CFKComplete machine.

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