Coherent Diode Lasers Enable Innovative Tape Laying for Composite Panels and Pipes

Laser-assisted tape winding (LATW) and placement (LATP) are supported by our HighLight lasers over a wide power range, together with zoom optics that match just about any manufacturing format.

June 6, 2022 by Coherent

Carbon Fiber Tubes

There is a growing interest in using composite hybrid blanks and substrates where a metal (usually steel) sheet, shaped component, or tube is overlaid with some type of carbon fiber-reinforced thermoplastic (CFRP). There are several emerging applications in automotives such as body in white and tanks for high-pressure hydrogen, as well as in e-mobility vehicles for use in battery boxes and for structural elements in electric motors. There are also several applications in the aerospace industry as well as in onshore/offshore gas and oil industries, for pipes, shafts, and tanks.

Laser-assisted tape winding (LATW)

Let’s get physical

These composite forms are desirable because they can have better physical properties (e.g., stress/strain modulus) than CFRP alone while still offering a lightweight alternative to conventional steel or other metals. In addition, in vehicular applications, the panels also provide acoustic noise reduction. Plus the carbon fibers are excellent heat conductors. Thermoplastic composite panels and pipes have the added benefit of potentially joining to each other or adding components to them by thermal welding processes.

These hybrid components are rapidly created by a thermal process where the adhesive resin of the CFRP tape is melted as it is rolled, wound, or otherwise pressed on to the metal substrate – see figure. Diode lasers have turned out to be ideal tools for these LATW and LATP processes because they are non-contact tools that enable precise spatial and temporal control over the amount of applied heat. Fortunately, the 980 nm range wavelength window is a particularly good match for this application which can therefore benefit from the established power-scaling architectures long-proven at this workhorse diode laser wavelength.

More power for system integrators

Coherent supports systems integrators in these applications with HighLight diode lasers over a wide range of powers: from 100 W up to 8 kW. This large range is needed because of the wide diversity of substrate shapes and sizes. The high power is required in some of the faster tape winding applications, which can operate at up to 2 meters/second.

The PH50 DL – Zoom optic we offer with these lasers homogenize and shape the beam to match the application format with independent control of width and height (x,y) dimensions. Three different standard models are currently available: small, medium, and large. These cover the ranges 3x3 mm up to 30x30 mm, 10x10 mm up to 60x60 mm, and 15x15 mm up to 110x110 mm. Custom focus modules are available upon request.