• Project R.A.C.E.
  • Serial production of complex, structural hollow components
  • Project R.A.C.E.
  • Serial production of complex, structural hollow components
  • Project R.A.C.E.

Project R.A.C.E.

Serial production of complex, structural hollow components

As part of “Project R.A.C.E.” (Reaction Application for Composite Evolution), Hennecke has now made a decisive development step with top industry partners which enables the production of fiber composite hollow parts in a matter of seconds. At the focus of the project is a process chain for production of a motorcycle license plate holder made of carbon fiber composite material with a hollow construction. The traditional license plate holder weighs more than 765 grams, however with the project R.A.C.E., the component exhibits increased performance with a total weight of only 265 grams. That is a weight reduction of over 60 percent!

8 partners, 21 specialists, 28 weeks of development time

The framework conditions of the R.A.C.E. project were clearly defined

The project was initiated under the management of Hennecke with the goal of bringing the new CAVUS production technology to series production. Together with the partners Engel, Huntsman, Murtfeldt, IFB Stuttgart, Persico, Reinsicht (formerly H2K Minerals) and KTM Technologies, an international team working holistically was formed consisting of 21 specialists who made it their task to develop a component all the way to series production, starting with a blank sheet of paper: the license plate holder for the KTM 1290 Superduke R. The challenge for this performance component lies in the interplay of the right construction and a production-ready design, and the combination of efficient processes based on the innovative CAVUS technology from KTM Technologies. CAVUS denotes the automated process chain for manufacturing structural complex hollow components from the core production, manufacture of the pre-form with carbon fibers in braiding technology through the HP-RTM process to the dissolution of the core material. This creates completely new design possibilities and functions.

Ideation and design

Ideation and design

The interplay of design and engineering forms the basis for a successful component. Kiska-designers and experts of KTM Technologies use the “Inside Out Design” approach for the license plate holder of the Superduke. Initial manual drawings on paper form the basis for the development process that starts simultaneously. Aspects like building space, connection concept and the manufacturability of the component are considered right from the start.

Ideation and design

Component and process simulation

Component and process simulation

In order to ensure process capability even in the early project phase, the IFB engineers (Institute of Aircraft Design) from the University of Stuttgart use various simulation tools. After the initial sketches are transferred into the CAD software, structure simulations of the component are created, which result in a first estimate of the necessary number of braiding processes. In the next step, these results are used for the braiding simulation, which provides insight about the emerging fibre angles and possible problem zones.

Component and process simulation

Core technology

Core technology

A central element of the CAVUS technology is the sand core of Reinsicht (formerly H2K Minerals). For the R.A.C.E. project, the core was set to a temperature resistance of 330 °C and a pressure resistance of 500 bar. The core also shows its special characteristics after the infiltration of the braid with the matrix. Removing it from the component without increased effort is done with just water. Furthermore, the resulting solution is not toxic. Due to the independent separation of the core components, the elements can easily be separated and recycled. In this process, up to 98 percent of the core is re-usable, depending on the material combination.

Core technology

Preforming

Preforming

The fibres were applied by the Institute of Aircraft Design at the University of Stuttgart using braiding technology. The core was fixed in a clamping device in the robot of the braiding unit and guided through a braiding wheel following a braid path calculated by the simulation. A Herzog RF 1/64-100 radial braider was used for the R.A.C.E. project. The textile was applied to the core with 64 braid strands consisting of 24k carbon fibre rovings. The strength of the springs in the bobbins determines how tight the braid sits on the core. 600 grams tensile force of the springs provided the best result of flexibility and stiffness for the biaxial braid.

Preforms

Polyurethane matrix

Polyurethane matrix

Outstanding mechanical properties as well as excellent processability characterize the polyurethane system VITROX® RTM 332 of the company Huntsman, used for the license plate holder of the Superduke 1290R. The high impact strength and elasticity of the material meet the requirements of the component. Above all things, the processing capabilities are important for the HP-RTM-process, as the cycle time is decisive for series production. With an adjustable “snap-cure” time of less than 30 seconds up to 24 hours, VITROX® enables the shortest cycle times.

Polyurethane matrix

Production in the HP-RTM process

Production in the HP-RTM process

The high and consistent component quality is a particularly decisive argument for using the HP-RTM procedure. In the R.A.C.E. project, the compact system set-up is achieved through a STREAMLINE Hennecke metering machine and an Engel elast 400V vertically closing press. The entire process can be controlled via one system due to the intensive collaboration of Engel and Hennecke. The two components polyol and isocyanate are processed in the STREAMLINE metering plant. A consistent temperature is ensured by the temperature control of the entire system including the tube packet by recirculating the components. Additionally, a homogenized release agent can be injected via a third line.

Production in the HP-RTM process

The highest surface quality thanks to Hennecke mixheads

The highest surface quality thanks to Hennecke mixheads

Hennecke uses its newly developed mixhead MN10-3 RTM to mix the components. The high-pressure mixhead can also be used for semi-automatic docking processes due to the conical outlet pipe with integrated internal mold pressure sensor. In order to counteract polymerization shrinkage, the self-cleaning piston also offers the option of applying additional pressure during the curing process of the matrix with hydraulic control. The highest surface qualities can thus be achieved. A further special feature of the MN10-3 RTM is the serial equipment with the patented balanced-pressure injectors. This completely eliminates possible influence of the internal mold pressure on the pressure development of the components.

The highest surface quality thanks to Hennecke mixheads

Mold technology with innovative sealing material

Mold technology with innovative sealing material

Using highly reactive plastics under internal mold pressures of up to a maximum of 200 bar places high demands on mold technology. On the one hand, the mold must ensure long lifetimes when using the abrasive carbon fibres, and on the other hand guarantee a consistently highly polished surface. Thanks to the expertise of the toolmaker Persico from Nembro, Italy, these requirements were able to be successfully implemented in the R.A.C.E. project. Under average internal mold pressures of around 100 bar, the seal must also meet the highest demands. A novel sealing material of the company Murtfeldt was used for this purpose. Murlock®, a thermoplastic material, provides highest sealing properties for several hundred process cycles. Compared to conventional round cord seals, the material is resistant towards damages by remaining materials or carbon fibres and also chemically inert towards reactive resin systems.

Mold technology with innovative sealing material

Post-processing of components

Post-processing of components

Dissolving the core material with water is a special highlight of the CAVUS technology. The special nature of this process is that the focus is on sustainability. The core can be removed from the component without additional, environmentally harmful solvents. After cutting open the demolded component along the trim lines, it is placed in a water bath. The sand separates in the solution and can be completely re-used for new cores after drying. The binding material in the solution can either be disposed of as process water or can be separated and used as fertilizer in agricultural applications. After the sand is released from the component, it can be added to the conventional post-processing steps of fibre composite components, and finally mounted on the vehicle.

Post-processing of components

Statements of the project partners

Stefan von Czarnecki - DIRECTOR OF SALES AND BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT KTM TECHNOLOGIES

Stefan von Czarnecki - DIRECTOR OF SALES AND BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT
KTM TECHNOLOGIES

For us, competitive lightweight construction is a central focus in the development of high-performance products. With an innovative team, we realize parts in new technologies where we are constantly pushing the limits of what is possible for our customers. We at KTM Technologies also rely on powerful partners for our development projects in order to retain our leading position in lightweight construction in the future.

Ivo Herzog - MANAGING DIRECTOR REINSICHT GMBH

Ivo Herzog - MANAGING DIRECTOR
REINSICHT GMBH

Reinsicht is able to produce pressure-resistant complex geometries using sand. The sand cores will withstand an enormous injection pressure of up to 500 bar. The binder used is water-soluble. At the end of the process, it can be flushed out easily in an eco-friendly manner with regular water and without any use of solvents.

Dr. Stefan Carosella - HEAD OF COMPOSITE MATERIAL INSTITUTE OF AIRCRAFT DESIGN (IFB)

Dr. Stefan Carosella - HEAD OF COMPOSITE MATERIAL
INSTITUTE OF AIRCRAFT DESIGN (IFB)

The carbon fibres are woven around the sand core in a braiding process. The position, angle and orientation of each individual fibre is extremely important in order to properly absorb forces that are acting on the part.

Hubert Reitberger - AUTOMOTIVE PRODUCT MANAGER - ADVANCED COMPOSITE RESINS HUNTSMAN (GERMANY) GMBH

Hubert Reitberger - AUTOMOTIVE PRODUCT MANAGER - ADVANCED COMPOSITE RESINS
HUNTSMAN (GERMANY) GMBH

The R.A.C.E. project is an excellent platform where high-speed pu-matrix materials such as Vitrox® can demonstrate their full performance. Self-releasing systems with outstanding mechanical properties combined with optimized curing times are the key to mass production with a short cycle time.

Gaetano Donizetti - SALES MANAGER PERSICO SPA

Gaetano Donizetti - SALES MANAGER
PERSICO SPA

To withstand the carbon fibres, the aim is to realize a robust and highly polished surface. This enables the production of high-quality components and surfaces. for this, the ability to demold and the injection points have to be chosen correctly.

Ralf Burghoff - TECHNICAL ASSISTANT TO THE MANAGEMENT MURTFELDT KUNSTSTOFFE GMBH & CO. KG

Ralf Burghoff - TECHNICAL ASSISTANT TO THE MANAGEMENT
MURTFELDT KUNSTSTOFFE GMBH & CO. KG

For the first time in the R.A.C.E. project, Murtfeldt plastics is proud to present a sealing material that can withstand internal mould pressures of up to 200 bar for long periods and is still resistant to damage from residue materials or even carbon fibres.

Matthias Mayr - HEAD OF APPLICATION ENGINEERING & PROJECT MANAGEMENT CENTER FOR LIGHTWEIGHT COMPOSITE TECHNOLGIES ENGEL AUSTRIA GMBH

Matthias Mayr - HEAD OF APPLICATION ENGINEERING & PROJECT MANAGEMENT CENTER FOR LIGHTWEIGHT COMPOSITE TECHNOLGIES
ENGEL AUSTRIA GMBH

ENGEL machines are characterized by highest precision, energy efficiency and reliability. combined with our automation capabilities, they are the ideal basis for an effective mass production in the area of hp-rtm processing. we have integrated an ELAST 400 into the production cell which is best suited for both automated and laboratory operation.

Karolin Jacobs - MECHANICAL DESIGN HENNECKE GMBH

Karolin Jacobs - MECHANICAL DESIGN
HENNECKE GMBH

The STREAMLINE machine offers a wide range of special features which significantly influence the HP-RTM process. Pressure control, sensors in the mixhead outlet, hydraulically controlled back-pressure function and mould filling monitoring – to compensate for weight fluctuations in the preform - are essential to the perfect component.

Live production of the component at the K Trade Fair in Düsseldorf

Nearly 4000 visitors came to Hennecke's trade fair stand to take a look at the process. A part-to-part cycle time of 125 seconds and a weight reduction of over 62 percent with a simultaneous upgrade of the product suggests a successful project. Thus, the R.A.C.E. project is impressive proof of how mutual efforts of highly specialized project partners can achieve a decisive development step for the series production of hollow fibre composite components based on CAVUS technology.

Project R.A.C.E. “2.0”

License plate holder in hybrid construction (GFRP/CFRP)

The R.A.C.E. project is under constant further development. The latest production approach is a license plate holder in hybrid construction that ensures maximum design freedom in shape and color. The contour in the braiding process is hereby realized with glass fibers. By means of a targeted and therefore load-related strengthening using carbon fibers in the Tailored Fibre Placement process (TFP), the user receives a component that achieves maximum rigidity with minimum weight and significantly reduced raw material costs. In addition, a once again improved core sealing reduces the number of necessary process steps, which additionally minimizes production costs. The new production approach also enables easy integration of electronic components, such as sensor technology or light emitting diodes.

Hybrid license plate holder for superduke
tailored fibre placement (TFP)
tfp braiding
Production of tfp preform with sandcore
Integration of electronic components such as lighting or sensors
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