Processes and materials suitable for series production to make structural lightweight parts are essential for the success of electric mobility. In this context, hybrid metal fiber composites are coming increasingly into focus to meet the growing requirements for range, driving performance and cost-efficiency. The potential for these hybrid metal fiber composite materials has been investigated by FRIMO Sontra as part of the LEIKA research project in collaboration with the Institute of Lightweight Engineering and Polymer Technology (ILK) at Dresden Technical University and other project partners from industry and research, and has been successfully implemented in the technical form of a vehicle underbody.
LEIKA stands for resource-efficient hybrid construction of lightweight bodywork. The aim of the project, which is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), is to transfer and adapt fundamental knowledge from industrial development and process chains that make it possible to convert existing bodywork structures into lighter hybrid metal fiber composite designs. In addition to the strong lightweight potential of the hybrid technology, the short process times and the option to integrate functions directly by combining forming and spraying into one step are impressive.
The underbody structure produced in the course of the LEIKA project was made at a laboratory facility at the ILK in Dresden and consists of several components combined together, each of which is made from specially manufactured metal fiber semi-finished products, which are subsequently formed. These semi-finished MF products based on the film stacking process have a specific laminate structure consisting of steel, magnesium, plastic and carbon and glass fiber. Thanks to the use of individual material combinations in accordance with the load path, it has been possible to achieve a weight reduction of just under 25% while maintaining performance in comparison to the metallic reference version. The process and component quality achieved with cycle times under two minutes confirm the potential for large series production.
The key task for FRIMO was the development of a stack mold for production of the various semi-finished MF products in the discontinuous pressing process. The material stacks made by a specially designed gripper are brought into the hot zone of the press tool and are thermally conditioned there. The plasticized matrix material impregnates the fiber reinforcement and combines the individual layers of the laminate structure. In the following cold zone, consolidation to the target wall thickness is achieved.
In addition to the technological implementation and testing of the system technology for manufacturing semi-finished metal fiber composite products, extended preliminary tests were carried out by FRIMO and the principles and process concepts for a continuous large-series manufacturing process were developed. In addition, FRIMO was able to bring its extensive experience from the field of hybrid technology to the project and thus make a significant contribution to the development and design of forming and injection molding tools.
LEIKA is a research and development project and it has been supported with funds from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) under the framework concept “Innovations in the production, services and work of tomorrow” (funding code 02PJ2770 – 02PJ2781) and with money from the Energy and Climate Fund, and it is managed by the Karlsruhe project sponsor PTKA.
Contact for questions and further Information:
FRIMO Sontra GmbH
Industriegebiet Brodberg 5
Tel.: +49 (0) 56 53 / 97 93 - 135
Fax: +49 (0) 56 53 / 97 93 - 5135