Unsurpassed Innovation Award
Company: Heraeus Noblelight
Description: The CAMX Award winners will be announced during Tuesday's General Session and will present in the theater at 12 pm. All entries will be on display throughout the week in the CAMX Awards Pavilion in the exhibit hall. humm3 is a high-power, precisely-controllable Xenon flashlamp heating system designed for the processing of thermoplastic composite materials to produce pressure vessels and tanks. humm3 saves money while increasing capacity and material selection options. humm3 heats a very wide selection of composite materials. This extends material options to include lower cost and bio derived reinforced composites. One humm3 enterprise can heat multiple processes simultaneously enabling mass production of tanks and pipes at a fraction of the cost required for multiple laser heaters. humm3 emits broadband, diffuse light, unlike class 4 lasers that require fully interlocked enclosures and expert safety management.
Collaboration and Partnerships: Heraeus has received a number of research grants from the UK government and the European Union (EU)to accelerate the product development phase. Initially, The National Composite Centre (Bristol, UK) was a significant driving force behind humm3 development, as they sought a high energy heat source that improved on incumbent laser technologies for composites manufacture. After proving the concept at the NCC, a UK government grant (through the NATEP programme) helped Heraeus to create a demonstrator humm3 system that operated on an Automated Fibre Placement (AFP) robot. Further grants from the UK and EU were instrumental in increasing the heating power of the system and proving its applicability to high-temperature thermoplastic materials. Other prestigious organizations such as the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (Sheffield UK), McNair Center, University South Carolina (USA), the Deutsches Zentrum für Luft und Raumfahrt (DLR) - Stade, Germany), and Compositadour, Bayonne, France have also contributed to the refinement of the technology. Their contributions in the areas of material thermal behavior, manufacturing process parameters and control, and predictive computer simulation are gratefully acknowledged. By installing humm3 on pilot lines and trialing the heating solution in advanced processes these institutes have accelerated learning and given industrial users the confidence in the technology to try it for themselves. These institutes also have examples of humm3 that industrial users and researchers may be able to access.
Concept and Design: humm3 enterprise has been designed to enable low cost, rapid production of sustainable components essential in meeting global net zero targets in industries such as aerospace, automotive and energy. Decarbonization and the drive to be sustainable is fundamentally changing the composites landscape. The mass production of lightweight pressure vessels, pipes and other components needed to support global decarbonization requires new technical approaches. Today many such components are produced from costly materials in time and energy consuming multi-step production processes at rates that will not support future demand. Forecasted demand for vehicles and infrastructure necessitates the ability to produce lightweight components rapidly, cost effectively, and from materials that may be recycled at end of life. These factors were central to the design of the humm3 enterprise system. humm3 harnesses the unique properties of the Xenon flashlamp to provide the energy and control needed to process thermoplastics to produce parts in a single step, massively reducing production time and cost. The broad spectral output is absorbed by a much greater selection of materials than other powerful heat sources such as lasers, so enabling the use of cheaper and more sustainable materials, such as glass fibre and bio-derived composites. Furthermore, a single humm3 can heat multiple parallel processes at the same time, reducing purchase price and cost of ownership thus driving down the cost of the components produced. Decarbonisation and sustainability are at the heart of this system. The humm3 enterprise enables rapid, efficient mass production of recyclable composite components, from sustainable materials.
Additional Information: The development of the humm3 system has required a combination of skills and knowledge from different areas of science. The flashlamp itself is a technological achievement, as it turns the Xenon gas within the lamp chamber into a high-energy plasma in a fraction of a second. Harnessing this pulsed energy has combined material science (to ensure the quartz glass of the lamp survives the thermal shock from each pulse), optics (to guide the high energy photons through a quartz light guide to the target surface) and thermal physics (to understand the absorption behavior of composite materials irradiated by the humm3 energy). The pulsed nature of the energy output gives a much-enhanced flexibility over continuous heat sources such as lasers or infrared lamps. A chosen material surface temperature can be achieved by using different parts of the pulse parameter space (pulse energy, pulse duration and number of pulses per second). This special feature of humm3 can be used to tailor the through-thickness thermal profile and allow optimal heating parameters to be chosen for properties such as the bond strength of thermoplastic tapes, the melt-layer thickness or the adjustments to surface polymer chemistry caused by heating. There is increasing evidence that the unique properties of humm3 xenon flashlamp heating can enhance the quality of finished parts in comparison to lasers and other similarly powerful heaters.