In the joint project STRONG, A+ Composites, in cooperation with SCHLIESSMEYER GmbH, is developing a process to reliably insert UD tapes into injection molded parts in a load-oriented manner. In several work packages, existing and innovative methods are tested and possibilities are investigated to insert continuous fiber-reinforced thermoplastic tapes in the injection molding process according to demand and load. Processing trials using different material combinations will demonstrate the range of materials and different tapes that can be used.
Of the methods tested, the most promising will be selected and suitable materials developed so that test specimens can be produced for testing and simulation. Of particular interest is the extent to which complex geometries can be reinforced. Based on the results, the processes will be further developed and two injection molds will be produced. The tools will then be used to produce demonstrators.
The project offers great potential for giving the injection molding process new degrees of freedom. By using UD tapes to stiffen the components, plastic can be saved and new designs can be realized. New product classes with higher requirements become possible or product differentiation just by using different UD tapes. This means that a new injection mold no longer has to be produced. Differentiation is achieved through the performance of the tapes used.
A+ Composites GmbH would like to further develop its existing technology in order to adapt it to plastic fibers and thus offer a new composite material made of plastic fibers and thermoplastics. According to well-known plastic fiber manufacturers, such a composite material does not exist worldwide for their fibers. The project is financially supported by the European Union and the state of Rhineland-Palatinate. The support will also secure jobs in the southwestern Palatinate region and exploit potential for the creation of new jobs.
The application areas targeted in this project are orthoses and prostheses. From discussions with potential customers, corsets and lower leg orthoses are of particular interest, as many properties of the composite material come into play here that can only be selectively covered by other materials. This can create completely new lines of freedom in orthopedic technology. The aim is to produce an orthosis that meets a number of complex requirements: High stiffness, flexibility and very high damping. The fact that the materials developed are extensively studied and characterized means that simulation models can be built for them and the components designed. This makes it possible to transfer the knowledge gained in the course of the research project to other areas of application and consequently ensure broader utilization.
Two approaches are being taken in carrying out the project: First, plastic fibers with thermoplastic as matrix and second, hybrid fibers (carbon or glass fiber mixed with plastic fiber) with thermoplastic as matrix are developed. The two approaches allow the properties to be tuned even better. The hybrid fiber variant in particular could also be used in other areas (e.g. crash and automobiles), as it offers a wide range of adjustment possibilities.