Complex, functionalized components based on fiber-reinforced thermoplastics (TP-FRP) can already be produced with integrated manufacturing processes in short cycle times. The production of prototypes is uneconomical so far due to the high tooling costs. Thanks to a novel photonics-based process developed jointly by RWTH Aachen , Laserline , and Arges as part of the LightFlex joint project, it is now possible for the first time to manufacture individual fiber-reinforced components flexibly and inexpensively even in small batches.
The core development of the new manufacturing process is the combined joining and forming process of an additively manufactured polyamide functional structure with fiber-reinforced thermoplastics. The TP-FRP component, for example, an organic sheet, is heated in an infrared radiator field. The near-surface heating of the additive-fabricated structures is done by means of an inline laser which is adjustable in all directions. This ensures well-defined, near-surface melting even when there are uneven and complex geometries.