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Resource efficiency and environmental impact of fiber reinforced plastic processing technologies

: Hohmann, Andrea; Albrecht, Stefan; Lindner, Jan Paul; Voringer, Bernhard; Wehner, Daniel; Drechsler, Klaus; Leistner, Philip


Production Engineering. Research and development 12 (2018), No.3-4, pp.405-417
ISSN: 0944-6524
ISSN: 1863-7353
Journal Article
Fraunhofer IBP ()
Fraunhofer IGCV ()

The process energy demand and the environmental indicators of two carbon fiber reinforced plastic process chains have been investigated. More precisely, the impact of different production set-ups fora standard textile preforming process using bindered non-crimp fabric (NCF) and a material efficient 2D dry-fiber-placement (DFP) process are analyzed. Both 2D preforms are activated by an infrared heating system and formed in a press. The resin-transfer-molding (RTM) technologyis selected for subsequent processing. Within a defined process window, the main parameters influencing the process energy demand are identified. Varying all parameters, a reduction of 77% or an increase of 700% of the electric energy consumption compared to a reference production set-up is possible, mainly depending on part size, thickness, and curing time. For a reference production set-up, carbon fiber production dominates the environmental indicators in the product manufacturing phase with a share of around 72–80% of the total global warming potential (GWP). Thus, the reduction of production waste, energy efficient carbon fiber production, and the use of renewable energy resources are the key environmental improvement levers. For the production of small and thin parts in combination with long curing cycles, the influence of the processing technologies is more pronounced. Whereas for a reference production set-up, only 10% (NCF–RTM) and 15% (DFP–RTM) of the total GWP are caused by the processing technologies, a production set-up leading to a high process energy demand results in a share of 40% (NCF–RTM) and 49% (DFP–RTM), respectively.