ThermHex Waben, producer of polypropylene honeycomb cores, and the Fraunhofer Institute for Microstructure of Materials and Systems (IMWS), both based in Halle (Saale) Germany, are collaborating on a project to develop production and processing technology for series production of honeycomb cores and the Organosandwich. This joint research project from ThermHex and Fraunhofer IMWS was made possible through years of collaboration between the two groups on several research and development projects.
A semi-finished product, the Organosandwich consists of two very thin face sheets of thermoplastic fiber composites, or organosheets, which are separated by a thermoplastic honeycomb core. It provides high stiffness at minimal weight but without additional ribs for stiffening. These semi-finished products become particularly cost-efficient when applied in-line to the honeycomb core in a continuous process and bonded to it. In subsequent production steps, they are further processed into components (e.g., thermoformed and functionalized by injection molding within very short cycle times). The corresponding component production technology was developed by Fraunhofer IMWS under the brand name TS-moulding.
This technology will contribute to ThermHex’s highly automated production process and enable the company to meet their targets of a total sales volume of 1 million kg (2.2 million lbs) of Organosandwich and honeycomb cores for this year, and a further annual growth of 10-20 percent in years to come.
The ThermHex process, patented by EconCore NV in Belgium, enables thermoplastic honeycomb cores to be produced in continuous in-line production. After extrusion, the web is rotationally vacuum-formed, folded, laminated and cut to the length desired by the customer.
As opposed to conventional production methods, the production of ThermHex honeycomb cores all take place on a single production line, which makes this process more resource efficient and significantly less expensive.
“This collaboration between ThermHex and Fraunhofer IMWS will provide industry leading changes to honeycomb technology,” says Mona Boche-Würfel, marketing and communications manager at ThermHex. “The technology that will be developed through the exciting collaboration will enable the mass production of almost CO2-neutral sandwich panels within very short cycle times as part of a highly cost-efficient process.”
Source: ThermHex Waben, https://thermhex.com.