SAERTEX® wins the JEC Innovation Award 2014

Saerbeck, (PresseBox) - SAERTEX® GmbH & Co. KG was awarded the prestigious JEC Innovation Award for 2014 for a project realised together with two partners. The project team accepted the prize in the "Wind Energy" category on 11 March at a ceremony held during the JEC EUROPE exhibition in Paris, which is the world's most important trade fair for the composites industry. Over 100 projects from companies in 28 countries competed for the coveted award. The jury considered that SAERTEX® and its partners had developed an outstanding contribution to automating the production of rotor blades for wind energy plant.

The research project mapretec, subsidised by the German Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety and supported by the project sponsor Juelich (PTJ) was initiated a good four years ago. The aim was to make the production of rotor blades more economical and faster with the aid of new manufacturing systems and suitable non crimp fabrics (NCFs). The three partners - SAERTEX, the Institut fuer integrierte Produktentwicklung (BIK) [Institute for Integrated Product Development] of the production engineering faculty of the University of Bremen and AREVA Blades (Stade) - can now take pleasure in the internationally recognised award for their labours.

Rotor blades, especially those for use in offshore wind parks, are nowadays usually over 60 metres long and made mainly of materials reinforced with continuous fibre. Large glass and carbon fibre layers have to be laminated without folds or creases, shaped and then connected together using artificial resin. Draping the layers of non-crimp fabric is currently usually done manually and is very laborious. Automation processes will save time and money in this respect in future.

Rotor blades, especially those for use in offshore wind parks, are nowadays usually over 60 metres long and made mainly of materials reinforced with continuous fibre. Large glass and carbon fibre layers have to be laminated without folds or creases, shaped and then connected together using artificial resin. Draping the layers of non-crimp fabric is currently usually done manually and is very laborious. Automation processes will save time and money in this respect in future.

The joint mapretec project that won the JEC Innovation Award 2014 bundled the know-how of all the partners involved in it. User (here: AREVA Blades), production specialist (BIK) and material specialist (SAERTEX®) applied a holistic approach to develop a system solution with automated cutting, layering and preforming tailoring the carbon and glass fibre NCF to the design required. Computers first control the cutting of the non-crimp fabric with the aid of sensors and it is then automatically formed as desired on a special and newly developed shaping field (preforming). SAERTEX® engineers ensured the necessary modification of the textile material to meet the requirements of the automation technology used. This is what made layering, shaping and precise tailoring to the design laid down feasible. In future all SAERTEX® clients wishing to further automate their processes will profit from this expertise.

SAERTEX managing director Bruno Lammers is proud of the award and knows who he has to thank for it. "The entire project team rendered excellent work and really earned the prize. We've learnt a lot from this project and will in future be able to support our clients in automating their processes by offering them the right material. We're convinced this development is a trendsetter for SAERTEX and the entire composites industry".

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