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One of the major advantages of thermoplastic over thermoset composites is the possibility to weld thermoplastic components together in just seconds. By locally heating the interface between two parts and melting the matrix , applying pressure and cooling down again, a bond as strong as the original material is created.
Welding is a versatile technology as it does not distinct between amorphous or semi-crystalline matrices and is possible for both glass fibre and carbon fibre reinforced thermoplastic composites (as well as other types of fibres). The range of available welding technologies also offers versatility regarding the shape and size of welding surfaces, as well as production volumes.
Suitable welding techniques for thermoplastic composites are:
- friction welding / spin welding
- ultrasonic welding
- resistance welding
- induction welding
All these techniques can create welds in a matter of seconds and can be completely automated.
From June 2011, DTC has taken the firsts step towards developing an in-house welding capability. An investment is made in resistance welding equipment to create welds up to a length of 1 meter. Two development engineers are working full time on this process.
In the near future it is planned to extend the investigation to other welding techniques as well.
DTC sees welding as a key technology needed to realize large and complex CFRTP assemblies for aerospace and automotive structures.