Processing fiber composites correctly is a specialism of the Swiss company Connova AG – from development and prototype construction to series production with a modern machine pool. However, single-part production still requires a great deal of manual work using diverse handheld tools. The new Fiber Composite Nibbler FCN 250 from TRUMPF has recently proven itself in this area.
The necessary shapes and tools are manufactured and the batch production is milled and trimmed with dimensional accuracy on modern five-axis CNC machines. However, the employees have to carry out the rough pre-cuts of large parts and trim the prototypes by hand. The same applies to diverse single parts which do not go into series production. Stefan Wyss remembers how the first Fiber Composite Nibbler test machine was sent to his office for such a single-part order: "In 2018, we had an inquiry from a company wanting to reproduce an airplane from the 1960s. Many of the parts to be reproduced were made of AFRP, in other words - aramide fiber reinforced plastic. Cutting these was a particular challenge."
The company could not achieve clean and precise cutting edges with so-called handheld water jet tools. It frequently generated hazardous dust and a lot of smoke. Furthermore, the rapidly rotating discs generated an intense heat input into the material which also had to be taken into consideration as it caused delamination – which means that the fiber layers, connected by plastic, frayed at the cutting edges.