SABIC to digitise, automate large-scale composites manufacturing

sabic 13mSABIC is celebrating a major milestone for its digital composites manufacturing line at JEC World 2019

The company, in collaboration with Airborne and powered by Siemens and Kuka technologies, has completed the pilot phase of the world’s first automated digital system for rapid, large-scale laminate manufacturing using SABIC’s continuous fibre-reinforced thermoplastic composite tape.

The digital composites manufacturing line has been nominated for the 2019 JEC Innovation Awards in the category ‘Industry & Engineering.’ The winner will be announced at the JEC Innovation Awards ceremony, on 13 March.

Plans for the new system were originally announced at JEC World 2018 and today, SABIC and Airborne are beginning the transition to full-scale production, which is slated for the end of 2019. To preview this unique system, SABIC is presenting a 360-degree virtual reality experience called ‘Innovations of Scale’ at its JEC World stand.

The new automated digital manufacturing system was built at Airborne’s facility in The Netherlands and is capable of producing four thermoplastic composite laminates every 60 seconds, totalling up to 1.5mn parts annually. Potential applications include cases and covers for consumer electronics, aircraft inserts, automotive components and sports goods.

Experiencing “Innovations of Scale”

The industrialisation of laminate production using the new digital composite manufacturing line will enable customers in diverse industries to mass-produce high-performance thermoplastic composite parts, gaining advantages of faster speed, higher efficiency and lower costs.

To allow JEC World visitors to experience first-hand the line’s automated conversion process, SABIC is leveraging virtual reality technology to put visitors inside the manufacturing facility.

Digital technologies for speed, mass customisation and quality

The digital composites manufacturing line uses cutting-edge digital technologies, including robotics, to enable mass customisation of flat laminates while reducing cycle times and cost. The fully digital system can run multiple laminate sizes simultaneously.

To support and enhance these capabilities, SABIC is expected to offer customers a range of services including simulation-based part and laminate design assistance and guidance on hybrid moulding processes in order to streamline the switch to composites.

JEC World 2019 is running from 12-14 March 2019 in Paris, France. SABIC management and technical experts are available throughout the show to answer questions and share insights on the company’s portfolio of advanced composite materials and technical capabilities.

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