Development, modelling and analysis of Vacuum Assisted Multipoint Moulding for manufacturing fibre-reinforced plastic composites
MetadataShow full item record
Multipoint tooling is a mould making technology that enables the rapid reconfiguration of a mould to create individual components. It replaces the commonly used, elaborately designed, and costly manufactured solid die, with an array of individually adjustable pins. These pins can be set to represent a large variety of freeform surfaces. An elastic interpolation layer (IPL) is used to smoothen the pin array and forms the actual tooling surface. This technology is well established in sheet metal forming and other areas of manufacturing. However, only little research has been conducted in the area of fibre-reinforced plastic composites. In this thesis, a novel multipoint tooling technology is introduced, that is specifically designed for fibre-reinforced plastic (FRP) manufacturing. Different to existing solutions, this Vacuum Assisted Multipoint Moulding (VAMM) is capable of creating concave and convex geometries on a single sided mould. This enables the use of established FRP manufacturing processes without further adaptation. Two iterations of this technology are developed: A manually adjusted small-scale test bench is used to validate the VAMM concept and conduct experiments on, and a fully automated full scale manufacturing prototype then is used to demonstrate the feasibility of the technology for an industrial application. The elasticity of the IPL introduces two system immanent dimensional defects: the overall shape deviates due to the deformation of the IPL and the punctual support of the interpolation layer leads to a golf-ball-like surface effect. A process model was created to predict behaviour of the VAMM tool and the interpolation layer, and estimate the expected part quality. An iterative shape control algorithm was implemented, to improve the dimensional accuracy of the manufacturing process, by readjusting individual pins in the tool. On this model, a sensitivity analysis was conducted to quantify the influence of the process and pin array parameters on the dimpling of the tool surface. The most important parameters were identified and used in a Metamodel of Optimal Prognosis (MOP). This MOP enables the rapid estimation of the system behaviour. It was used to optimise the VAMM process and the interpolation layer in order to maximise the geometric part quality. With this method two IPL designs, one with a single, and one with two separate layers of silicone rubber, were evaluated. It turned out that the dual layer configuration can handle a 24 % higher process pressure, while using a 9 % thinner interpolation layer, to produce parts similar to the single layer configuration.