20/03/2018 – News / Manufacturing / Carbon Fibre / Voith / Audi / Germany
Voith takes carbon fibre manufacturing to the next level for Audi
Voith Composites has premiered its breakthrough carbon fibre manufacturing line in Paris at JEC World 2018, the world’s leading trade show for fibre-reinforced components. With its new line, Voith Composites – part of the €4.2bn Voith Group – expects to “elevate the industrialisation of composites production to a new level”, according to the firm, as it continues to grow in the automotive and aerospace markets with the production of carbon composite components.
The patented Voith Roving Applicator (VRA) is the core and one of the main parts of this state-of-the-art production line, producing the CFRP rear panel for the new Audi A8. This high-load structural component has a complex carbon fibre structure with local reinforcements and is produced using direct fibre placement technology.
In this context, robust preforming without gaps and creases is crucial to meet the stringent quality and cycle time requirements. Voith developed a new, highly efficient forming simulation method to enable the required segmented stamp forming process, which follows the innovative VRA fibre placement process.
Setting new smart factory standards
After the preforming, a high-pressure resin transfer molding (HP-RTM) process is used to inject the matrix through the fibre material. Subsequently, the parts are trimmed by a milling process, a machine washing and fully-automated assembly with metallic subcomponents. The transport between the single process steps is done by robotic systems, leading to a new level of production automation of composite components.
“With a whole new digital 4.0 production line, we are setting new standards producing carbon fibre parts for high-volume automotive serial production,” stated Voith Composites’ Managing Director, Dr. Lars Herbeck. “Our smart factory concept allows the automated production of CFRP components in almost any shape and individual lot sizes.”
JEC Innovation Award winner
At JEC World 2018 in Paris – the leading trade show for fibre-reinforced components – the high-volume CFRP production line of the Audi A8 rear wall module won the JEC Innovation Award 2018. This prestigious prize is awarded every year to honour breakthrough innovations in the field of composites. Audi, together with Voith, DOW Automotive, and Zoltek Corp., applied for this award in the category ‘Automotive Process’. The foundations for this large-scale production were laid by the development partnership between Voith Composites and the automobile manufacturer Audi, which has been in place since 2011.
“Together with Voith, we have developed an ultra-stiff carbon rear wall, which is the largest component of the passenger cell of the new Audi A8. It contributes highly to the stiffness of the overall vehicle,” said Dr. Bernd Mlekusch, Head of the Lightweight Design Center at AUDI AG