The purpose of the Mtow (multi-tow) line is to produce continuous fiber reinforced rods that act as an intermediate material to be later transformed into any desired shape. The process consolidates thermoplastic prepreg tape into a cylindrical core, which is overbraided with a dry fiber, and coated with a compatible extruded polymer. Rods ranging from 4mm to 16mm in diameter can be produced at rates exceeding 5 mm/sec. The primary goal of the process is to produce reinforcement for future overmolding applications. In addition, Mtow can be used as a transfer medium for components such as air tubing, electrical wires, or sensors.
Description of Line
Overview of M-TOW® line located in the MDLab. The line includes 8 integrated units spanning a total of 15 meters. The creel can hold up to 16 rolls of thermoplastic prepreg tape, which is equipped with guide rollers and photo sensors for tape breaks. From the creel, the tape is pulled through an oven that uses infrared heating elements capable of reaching temperatures above 400℃. Guide pins and tensioned roller guide compact multiple tapes into a single tow.
As the tow cools, it is pulled through an extruder that applies a plastic overcoating to the tow. The material used at this stage depends on the material used in the future overmolding stage. The exit orifice can be exchanged depending on the desired tow size.
The completed tow is cut to a specified length with an ultrasonic cutter and stacked neatly before moving on to subsequent forming processes.