DLR (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).
The thermoplastic technology at the IBK is based on process engineering like vacuum consolidation, vacuum moulding and processes in a heated press. The development of these process technologies is extensively optimised. The emphasis of the research work today is under use of these process technologies in the combination of different reinforced and homogeneous qualities of thermoplastic material into new design methods. To limit the investment cost for consolidation and shaping plants to process continuous fibre-reinforced thermoplastics, the research focuses on vacuum consolidation with a heated table.
The heated table consists of an electrical heating with single zone control to ensure homogeneous warming up of the table surface and to control the temperature distribution over the whole area. Vacuum channels are integrated into the surface of the heated plate, which allow the creation of a vacuum after the laminate lay-up and the vacuum foil are applied. An integrated cooling system permits the cooling down of the plant first with water vapour and after reaching the boiling temperature with cooling water.
On this table flat plates or curved shapes can be heated and consolidated. For extremely curved surfaces, additional heating emitters or heating mats should be used.
The table can be used due to its work temperature for consolidating CF-PEEK (400°C) and also for vacuum infusion with the VARI and RTM6 (180°C) process.
Due to the modular building method a simple change of size is possible to other dimensions by changing over or providing heating racks and substitution of the iron plate. Contrary to heated presses and autoclaves, large parts can therefore be manufactured cost-effectively without a furnace.