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Net-shape joining technology to manufacture 3D multi-materials components based on metal alloys and thermoplastic composites

The ComMUnion project enables productive and cost effective manufacturing of 3D metal/CFRTs multi-material components. Automatic tape placement of CFRTs with controlled laser-assisted heating, high-speed laser texturing and cleaning, on-line monitoring and inspection, and computational multi-scale modelling will be combined in a multi-stage robot solution for joining to provide the greatest performance joints. Tools for quality diagnosis and decision support will be also implemented under a cognitive approach.


EU industry has a strong world leading position in Automated Tape-Laying and Fibre Placement (ATL/AFP) equipment, with global key-developers for composite lay-up. This leadership in equipment production reinforces EU position in advanced manufacturing sectors in which composites processing technology opens new opportunities in novel applications with great potential. Automotive and aeronautical sectors are two clear examples of this fact and also key manufacturing sectors for EU economy:

  • The automotive industry accounts for about 3% of the European Union's GDP and for about 7% of the Union's total manufacturing output, which makes the automotive industry a major wealth generator in Europe.
  • The European aeronautical industry is one of the key, high-tech sectors of the EU, employing in 2013 about 561,400 people and generating a turnover of approximately €198 billion.

Moreover, joining technology represented €65.1 billion and provided employment to 1.2 million people in the EU-27 by 2013. These indicators give an idea of the pressure from different sectors to improve the relation between cost, performance, and weight in joining, assembly, and disassembly processes.



The major goal of ComMUnion is to develop a novel solution for manufacturing metal reinforced-CFRT multi-material components by addressing all the relevant value chain. A multi-stage advanced joining process will be developed. This joining process will combine state-of the art automatic placement of CFRT tapes with controlled laser-assisted heating, high-speed laser texturing and cleaning of metallic surface, and on-line monitoring and inspection for the manufacturing of new complex 3D components with enhanced properties. ComMUnion will rely on a robot-based approach that also enables on-line inspection for layer-to-layer self-adjustment of the process. Moreover, tools for multi-scale modelling, parametric offline programming, quality diagnosis and decision support will be developed under a cognitive approach to ensure interoperability and usability.

With this aim, ComMUnion pursues the following technical goals:

  • O1: Developing a new multi-stage joining robotic solution
  • O2: High efficient and flexible surface condition solution
  • O3: Developing a multi-scale modelling system
  • O4: Implementing an embedded flexible control of the laser-assisted heating profile
  • O5: Developing QDS in a multi-stage manufacturing approach based on active imaging techniques
  • O6: Self-adjustment of process parameters
  • O7: Demonstration of recycling/reuse of the components
  • O8: Demonstration of a fully automated 3D joining multi-material technology applied to automotive and aeronautics