UD tapes are tapes that are reinforced with unidirectionally aligned glass or carbon fibers embedded in a thermoplastic matrix. In practice, several of these tapes are usually layered together to create a laminate. The number of UD tapes used in each case depends on the rigidity and strength required for the component in question. The tapes often prove to have better properties than metals while also allowing more lightweight designs. UD tapes are of interest to the automotive industry, for example, where they can help to reduce vehicle weight and cut exhaust emissions.
At the Fraunhofer Pilot Plant Center for Polymer Synthesis and Processing (PAZ) in Schkopau, a partnership with KrausMaffei Berstorff has resulted in a new facility for manufacturing UD tapes . It is capable of a processing speed that is currently unmatched anywhere in the world: up to 20 m per minute at temperatures of up to 350 °C. The tape fibers in the fiber bed are wetted with a matrix polymer to a maximum width of 500 mm and then cooled, trimmed at the edges and wound onto rolls. An integrated cutting unit allows tapes to be made narrower. The new production line is expected to go into operation officially in Schkopau on May 3, 2018.