Sabic presents breakthrough thermoplastic composite production technology

Sabic presents breakthrough thermoplastic composite production technology

3:12 PM, 8th March 2018
Sabic presents breakthrough thermoplastic composite production technology
Digital composites manufacturing system.

AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS: Sabic has invested in the composites industry’s first automated, digital system for the large-scale manufacturing of laminates made with its continuous fibre reinforced thermoplastic composite (CFRTC) tapes.

Sabic said that it is presenting the digital composites manufacturing system, an automated and digitized production line developed with Airborne and powered by Siemens. The new line, slated to go live in early 2019, will aim to offer customization capabilities – using sophisticated technologies and processes that can drive down cycle times and system costs.

“Rapid mass production of high-quality, fully customized thermoplastic composite parts at an affordable cost will soon be a reality. The upcoming launch of our digital composites manufacturing line – the composites industry’s first large-scale production solution – is a major step toward that goal,” said Gino Francato, global business leader, composites, Sabic.

Fast and fully automated

The new large-scale manufacturing line, built by Airborne at its facility in The Netherlands using Siemens factory automation and digital control software, can produce multiple thermoplastic composite laminates every minute, achieving over a million parts annually.

For ultimate flexibility, this system can be remotely operated and can run multiple laminate sizes simultaneously. Machine learning concepts will be used to fine-tune quality and adaptive process control will allow settings to be modified on the fly.

The digital composites manufacturing line will be supported by predictive engineering capabilities at Sabic’s centre of excellence in The Netherlands. Predictive engineering for UDMAX tapes is based on computer-aided engineering (CAE) software that uses material data and material modelling (such as elastic properties and damage initiation/rupture behaviour) to create simulations of how the composite material will perform in an application during its use, taking into account the influence of manufacturing processes.

A breakthrough for thermoplastic composites in consumer electronics

The digital composites manufacturing line will premiere its first-generation technology to meet immediate needs in the consumer electronics industry.

The digital composites manufacturing line will be able to mass-produce lightweight, high modulus and low warpage, custom-engineered laminates as per thickness, dimensions, lay-up preferences and desired performance. Made with carbon-fibre reinforced polycarbonate composite, these Sabic laminates will be used for laptop covers.

“By responding to our customers’ needs for increasingly lighter, yet stronger and thinner products in large scale, we will soon be enabling our customers to leverage the advantages of Sabic’s laminates to achieve not only weight-out but also design flexibility and shorter production cycle times for device covers – more effectively than ever before,” concluded Francato.

Sabic is exhibiting the product at JEC World 2018.

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