Laser-based tape laying and winding has already achieved considerable laydown speeds in the production of lightweight components in the past. Now, Laserline high power diode lasers offer a new development solution with the LDMdirect.

Already the demand for lightweight components is increasing in automotive engineering, aerospace technology, even pipeline construction. In addition to aluminium, fibre-reinforced plastics are primarily used. Significant growth in fibre-reinforced plastics is evident, as it is 25% lighter than aluminium, and up to 60 to 70% less weight compared to steel. The typical manufacturing process for plastics is processing of tapes. Laser-assisted tape winding and laser-assisted tape placement using thermoplastic pre-impregnated tapes with a laser heat source enables a very high-quality end product in one single process.

Light weight parts in different shapes that can be layered are 2D panels and 3D parts, pressure valves and pipes. Tape placement is used on 2D and 3D parts while tape winding is used for tubes and vessels. The thermoplastic tapes are reinforced endless fibres of carbon, glass or aramid ready to be used on a range of products. In tape laying, the tapes are pulled off the roll using a feed unit, deposited on the work platform or component and bonded together by melting just before the consolidation zone. This is how, for example, organic sheets or local reinforcements of large-area plastic components are produced. For the production of pipes, shafts or tanks, the tapes are deposited on a rotating container or pipe by cross-winding, directly consolidated during the process.

Working with Laserline, AFTP GmbH built a specific tape placement head, automated and mounted on a robot to place CFRP tape on a 3D preformed part. Tape laying of single or multiple tapes is possible with the compact design and exceptional adaptability of the robot-supported technology. Laserline offer an LDMdirect, a modular direct diode laser in a 19-inch design with a maximum output power of 2kW. This compact design facilitates the installation on robots so that large parts can be reinforced or applied to a flat or curved surface of a fuselage. The Laserline laser is capable of housing several processing heads integrated next to each other in a single set-up. This provides a change of energy but retains constant heated length and higher consistency. The adaptability of the laser system and processing head means a range of tape widths can be used thereby increasing speed while making the process more suitable in large-scale production with a high degree of automation.