Stamp forming is a rapid manufacturing technology used to shape flat blanks of thermoplastic composite material into three-dimensional components. The development of automated lay-up technologies further extends the applicability of stamp forming by allowing rapid lay-up of tailored blanks and partial preconsolidation. This partial preconsolidation makes the influence of prepreg more critical compared to conventional preconsolidation methods which provide full preconsolidation. This paper aims to highlight consolidation challenges that can appear when stamp forming blanks manufactured by automated lay-up. Important prepreg characteristics were identified based on an experimental study where a comparison was made between various prepreg in their as-received, deconsolidated and stamp consolidated state. It was found that adding up small thickness variations across the width of a prepreg when stacking plies into a blank by automated lay-up can cause non-uniform consolidation. Additionally, deconsolidation of the prepreg does not seem to obstruct interlaminar bonding, while intralaminar voids initially present in a prepreg cannot be removed during stamp forming. An additional preconsolidation step after automated lay-up seems necessary to remove blank thickness variations and intralaminar voids for the current prepregs. Eliminating this process step and the successful combination of rapid automated lay-up and stamp forming requires prepregs which are void-free and have less thickness variation.
Slange, T. K., Warnet, L. L., Grouve, W. J. B., & Akkerman, R. (2017). Influence of prepreg characteristics on stamp consolidation. In AIP Conference Proceedings (Vol. 1896). American Institute of Physics Inc. https://doi.org/10.1063/1.5008021