A WORLD FIRST: SMART DEFECT CONTROL FOR MULTIAXIAL CARBON FABRICS IN THE HIGH-END SECTOR

At JEC WORLD 2018 in Paris, SAERTEX is launching a unique process innovation for its multiaxial high-end carbon-fiber fabric: SAERTEX® Smart Defect Control for improving the quality of SAERTEX carbon-fiber materials.
Surface damage to non-crimp-fabrics was previously difficult to identify with a high degree of precision. However, the SAERTEX® Smart Defect Control System looks into the structure of the non-crimp-fabric and reveals gaps, undulations, and other potential deviations from the high-end specifications. At SAERTEX, this globally unique process makes it possible to subject carbon fabrics to automated and continuous quality assurance, without the inspection process causing direct damage to the materials.

During the actual production process, the SAERTEX non-crimp-fabrics made of carbon fibers are subjected to quality-control measures that satisfy the exacting requirements of the aerospace industry, as well as other demanding industrial applications. Multiaxial reinforcement materials are quasi-isotropic textile structures made up of multiple unidirectional layers that are laid over each other in different orientations and stitched together. The more demanding the application is for these materials, the more important it becomes to avoid even smaller defects in the textile structure. The quality control of the materials currently takes the form of many manual and complex work steps. This results in time and labor costs, especially in the downstream customer processes. This is the reason why the industry has made efforts for many years to develop an automated process to achieve the zero-defect production of composite materials. SAERTEX, along with its partners, has taken a key step on the road to achieving zero-defect materials.

“For multiaxial non-crimp-fabrics, SAERTEX Smart Defect Control means that a new level of quality assurance has been reached. The intelligent combination of production and digitization technologies with our materials know-how has led us to this innovation,” explains SAERTEX Chief Technology Officer Dietmar Möcke. “We employ the new smart quality-control process in the manufacture of three and four-layer SAERTEX carbon fabrics and are currently capable of identifying gaps of greater than 2 mm. The results are continuously improving as a result of our ongoing development work,” adds Möcke. Alongside gaps between the fiber strands, other defects can also be clearly identified, such as the homogeneity of threads or undulations within internal layers of the multiaxial non-crimp-fabric. It is possible to take immediate corrective action in the manufacturing process and the location of the defect is, for instance, automatically transferred to the roll reports. “Reliable quality facilitated by the Smart Defect Control will make a breakthrough possible for triaxial and quadriaxial fabrics in many carbon applications. They can offer an attractive alternative to double-layer biaxial materials used on the past. Furthermore, Smart Defect Control not only helps us to react rapidly, but also to act – and therefore continuously improve our quality,” continues Dietmar Möcke. By using multi-ply multiaxial fabrics, customers are able to simplify the handling and drapability of composite materials significantly in their component molds – and avoid defects. With carbon fabrics that are inspected using the Smart Defect Control process, component manufacturers also save time on their own inspections and processing of the carbon reinforcement materials – thanks to defective areas removed or marked by SAERTEX. “Our customer Airbus already employs our materials inspected using the new process in series production. The feedback is very positive,” comments SAERTEX Chief Sales Officer Christoph Geyer. “At JEC WORLD 2018 in Paris, one of the highlights we are exhibiting is SAERTEX Smart Defect Control. With it, we will certainly generate a great deal of interest among users in the aviation, medical technology, and automotive sectors.”

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