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Paris - Karl Mayer has confirmed a positive response to its latest multi-axial warp knitting machine technology which was on display at the recent JEC World 2018 exhibition in Paris.

"I am very satisfied with the response to our exhibition in Paris. Not only the number but also the internationality of the visitors was good," said Jochen Schmidt, President of Karl Mayer Technische Textilien GmbH, adding that there was significant interest from visitors from European markets as well as from China, the USA, India and Turkey.

A key topic of conversation with customers related to the need for lightweight solutions that offered automated production, high reproducibility and a well-balanced price-performance ratio. Current trends show that with carbon fibres regarded as relatively expensive, they are primarily used if the performance requirements do not allow any other option.

An example of this can be seen by the specific demands of aerospace applications although even here, cost optimization is needed with dry carbon fibre layer structures seen as an alternative to the cost-intensive prepregs.

According to Schmidt, glass fibre is gaining in popularity for many applications as an alternative to carbon fibres with the company's COP MAX 4 technology able to produce dry glass layers which are increasingly in demand in the wind energy market and, more recently, the automotive industry.

The COP MAX 4 produces multiaxial textiles, mainly for reinforcing fibre composites, which can be used in the rotor blades of wind turbines. For this application, the textile reinforcements must be able to withstand enormous forces. Premium-category wind turbines, having a power rating of 6.1 MW, have a rotor diameter of 126 m, on which a centrifugal force of roughly 1.1 MN is exerted at a wind speed of 14 m/s. As a comparison: 1 MN corresponds to a weight force of 70 small cars. On the COP MAX 4, the starting material is inserted using two laying devices at angles of 80 degrees in each case.

Karl Mayer was also using JEC to demonstrate its fibre spreading technology for the composites industry. This involves the Vario Laying procedure which ensures a mechanical and load path-oriented positioning of the carbon fibres during the production of dry glass layers.

Alexander Wegner from Karl Mayer’s exhibition team and Senior Manager Application Technology, explained that the use of glass is also becoming increasingly interesting for another on-trend area of the composite industry, particularly thermoplastic applications. He went on to say that in the overall production process, thermoplastic composites made from glass layers are cheaper than duroplastic composites, but for their manufacture they require a special technological know-how, in particular during spreading.

Nevertheless, with UD 700 its fibre-spreading unit, Karl Mayer says it is well positioned for the future. "The market is increasingly demanding for glass layers with low surface weights. For this purpose, the glass fibers must be spread as homogeneously as possible. And precisely this brings our technology into play," said Wegner.

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