The HyBe R&D project will advance efficient lightweight engineering by developing a fully automated joining process for the rapid joining of metallic fasteners to thermoplastic fiber-reinforced polymer composites.
In the context of the increasing use of lightweight structures across all industries and the associated reduction in CO2 emissions, optimized fastening elements for fiber-reinforced polymer composites (FRPCs) and their joining processes are becoming more and more important. For easy assembly of metal and FRPC components to superior assemblies, areal force introduction elements are particularly suitable. These elements bond to the FRPC without damaging the fibers, as it is the case with drilling or clinching, leading to an optimized load introduction. The aim of the HyBe project is to develop a suitable technology for automated, digitized and energy-efficient inductive joining of metallic fasteners to thermoplastic FRPC. This is achieved by further developing induction welding with regard to cycle time, energy input optimized by finite element methods, in-line quality assurance, redundant process control and a digitized process chain in the manner of industry 4.0. In addition to process development, the characterization of the hybrid joints on the basis of material variations and studies on long-term durability are key elements of the project. By coating the joining surface of the fasteners with optimized adhesion promoters, high-strength bonds are achieved even with matrix polymers that are difficult to join, such as polypropylene. The result of the project will be an industry-ready hybrid joining process.