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QSP® ready for in-mould direct assembly

As the use of composites for lightweight solutions increases, the need for optimized and efficient multi-material assembly solutions will also expand. This project is an answer to this problematic, as it enables multi-material one-shot assemblies in thermoplastic composites. The CETIM, along with Loiretech, P.E.I. and Compose tooling, created a three-module thermoforming pilot line with patch cutting of organosheets or thermoplastic tapes, tape laying of the patches for preform assembly and fast heating, and a press to obtain net shape products. Collaborating with Böllhoff for inserts furniture and using this new Quilted Stratum Process® (QSP®), special movements are made in mould after closing the press, creating assemblies in the same cycle time, without any special operations on composites before or after forming.

During the forming, the QSP® enables direct creation of reinforced holes without overmoulding, were a rivet can be added after moulding. It enables also direct insertion of metal insert through the composites with overmoulding added. Since no holes are drilled during this process, the damage on fibres is greatly reduced. Moreover, as fibres are pushed, it creates a local reinforcement around fixings that improves mechanical characteristics as well as energy absorption, which is particularly interesting for crash solicitations. Compared to drilled solutions, both type of assemblies shows an increase in mechanical resistance during a pull-through test of +30% and +75% respectively, or during a single lap-shear test of +60% and +70% respectively.

This pilot line is very promising for future high production rates of composite parts that required in many automotive or aeronautics applications, since it is a modular, scalable and flexible process that enables the production of multi-thickness and multi-orientation complex parts with short cycle times (40 to 90 s) and competitive rates also due to the reduction of assembly costs.

(22/09/2016)

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