Thermoforming of thermoplastic tape laminates plays an increasingly important role in the automotive and the aerospace sector due to low cycle times, recyclability, and material efficiency. A combination of thermoplastic tapes with long fiber-reinforced thermoplastics (LFT) in overmolding processes further enables the increase of the lightweight potential through local functionalization and geometric stiffening. Too high production costs and a limited understanding of large-scale-specific processes, however, still hinder high-performance composites to enter the mass-production market.
This challenge can be met within the developments of Industry 4.0 through a continuous and functional virtual process chain including a digital twin of the manufacturing process through process simulation. A digital twin is suitable for the optimization of manufacturing processes and the integration of process simulation into a holistic virtual process chain enables the accurate prediction of the part’s behavior in terms of dimensional stability and structural performance.