Diode lasers change tape laying in fibre-reinforced plastics


Tube from CFRP produced by diode laser assisted winding

Laserline’s diode lasers are revolutionizing the tape placement and winding technology of fibre-reinforced plastics.

Local heating and accurate temperature control replace laser autoclaves and enable a one-stop processing of thermoplastics. Advanced fibre placement technology with diode lasers is used by the major airplane manufacturers for fuselage and panel construction.

Recently, Laserline has tackled the task of developing an efficient process for tape layering with the power of a diode laser. Increasingly, items such as aircraft parts, pressure vessels, seals and pipes that have traditionally been made of steel or aluminium, are being replaced by carbon fibre reinforced plastics-elastomers.

The use of CFRP’s enables weight savings of up to 70 percent and improves the mechanical properties of the product. During the tape laying process the orientation of the fibres can be controlled as needed, orienting them for example, so they can absorb maximum stresses to which the material may be subjected.

Working with a customer in Germany which manufactures carbon fibre reinforced plastics (CFRP’s) using a process of tape layered into a mould, Laserline introduced a diode laser that provides greater efficiencies in heating and melting the tape material in the joint area in a temporally and spatially controlled process.

The company built a tape placement head mounted on a robot to place tape onto a 3D pre-form. Working in close cooperation with the customer, Laserline developed special homogenising optics to heat the CFRP strips as they are placed. These special optics produce a rectangular laser focus with a very uniform energy distribution. A coaxial multi- point temperature control regulates the laser power to ensure safe heating of the material and keeps it below decomposition temperature.

Since 2009 diode lasers have been used for the production of CFRP components. Specific homogenizing optics, 3kW of laser power and a high process efficiency result in tape layering speeds of several meters per minute. The small footprint of Laserline’s fibre-coupled diode laser module LDM 3000-100 with its high efficiency, allowed the customer to build a robust, compact, class-1 welding cell suitable for the factory floor or in mobile units.

Laserline products are distributed in Australasia by Raymax Applications Ltd.