Dieffenbacher adds that it has pursued this development to meet the strong upward trend of the use of fibre-reinforced composites in automotive engineering.

Body components are made from long fibre-reinforced thermoplastics featuring greater structural rigidity due to the addition of UD fibre tapes. With the development of tailored fibre placement LFT-D technology, Dieffenbacher says that it is now possible to discontinue inline, component-specific unidirectional fibre reinforcement and integrate the reinforcements into the component structure itself.

In order to carry out this process, the tape fibre placement step is introduced upstream of the LFT-D line. The UD fibre tapes consist of glass or carbon fibres embedded in a matrix of thermoplastics and are available as reels of material. The entire procedure required to process the UD fibre tape into the tailored blank has now been integrated into the LFT-D line technology as a fully automated step, adds the company.

The combination of both materials allows the strength and structural rigidity features of the fibre tape to be combined with the benefits of the LFT-D compound. Dieffenbacher says that due to this plant technology, there is scope for great flexibility in the design of the components. In each plant, a wide range of materials can be manufactured, including pure LFT-D components, pure fibre-tape components, LFT-D components with local endless fibre reinforcement and LFT-D components with all-over fibre-tape reinforcement. Various material strengths can also be achieved with a single component.

Dieffenbacher adds that beside the high degree of flexibility for material combinations, thermoplastics with endless fibre reinforcement offer an affordable, lightweight alternative. The cost-effective nature of this solution is significantly lower material costs and higher plant productivity resulting from shorter cycle times of less than one minute. Another key advantage, says the company, is the fact that this group of materials is ideal for recycling, meaning production waste can be recycled within the LFT-D line itself.