The QEE-TECH® Cell (QTC) is used for rapid production of complex shaped continuous fiber composite reinforcements (3D preforms, QEE-FORMS®) for use in hybrid-molded thermoplastic composites. This is accomplished by heating of continuous fiber reinforced thermoplastic tape which are converted to a tow and fed into a 3 axis (1 rotation, 2 tilt) articulating head and laid onto a 3 axis table (for 6-axis capability). This allows for greater complexity of the reinforcement structure or preform which serves as a backbone for efficient load introduction and load distribution in the hybrid-molded composite structure.
The production process can be fully automated and integrated with an articulating robot which places the preform for subsequent overmolding operation. Typical overmolding materials are neat or reinforced thermoplastic or TPEs are used for producing additional shape features (ribs, attachment points, etc.). The overmolding machine is equipped with a fiberform cell which includes robots and a preheating oven, enabling simultaneous hybrid molding of Organo sheet (woven thermoplastic composite) and 3D preforms.
QTC Process Video
Hybrid Molding Process VIdeo
The structural, 3D preform is overmolded to provide geometric features while simultaneously providing support for the preform structure.
Examples of different reinforcement types (Organo sheets and 3D preforms) for a generic beam structure. From left to right: a press-formed woven thermoplastic composite sheet; a trimmed press-formed woven thermoplastic composite, ready for overmolding; a 3D preform made using the QTC(R). To the far right is the final overmolded beam structure incorporating both reinforcement types.
Fully Automated Production Cell Demonstration
Molten continuous fiber composites from the infrared oven is laid up on a custom designed jig.
The material layup process involves a custom designed jig that includes heaters, coolers, and pneumatic clamps/cutters.
After layup, the preform is automatically transferred to the overmolding machine.
The finished part is retrieved and a new preform is placed in the injection mold.