Fibre handling and converting specialist, Cygnet Texkimp, has launched a next-generation fibre unwinding creel that uses patented pneumatic technology to achieve reliable tension.
The Flatline Creel is the latest technology to graduate from Cygnet Texkimp’s UK-based Innovation Programme where it has been developed to address the need for precision and uniformity in the high-end carbon fibre prepreg and multi-filament tow market.
“The way in which fibre tows are unwound from the bobbin and fed into downstream technologies is critical to the success of the whole process and the quality of the finished material,” explains Chris Furphy, Cygnet Texkimp’s Product Director for Creels.
“When it comes to manufacturing the highest quality carbon fibre prepregs and woven technical fabrics, tensioning and handling are essential considerations. By harnessing the capability of precision pneumatics, we’ve developed an unwinding technology with unparalleled tensioning and handling performance.”
The creel uses low-pressure, low-friction pneumatic cylinder technology to generate a consistent tension for each fibre tow as it is fed into a range of downstream processes, from prepreg to weaving. The pressure of each precision cylinder is set by a central electronic control system, which modulates the pressure in response to operating conditions. It is effectively a pneumatically controlled brake to regulate the torque applied to each position on the creel.
A key consideration in the design was that it should not require any mechanical calibration or high level of operational expertise to set up and run the system within the manufacturing facility. The pressure and braking force of each cylinder is pre-programmed electronically and set, which means there is no on-site calibration required. The design has been optimised to mitigate variation in the manufacturing process.
Each flatline module is formed within a largely enclosed module, which eliminates the potential for fibre debris to enter the system and cause variation of tension.
The range of tension that the Flatline can offer is also significantly greater than that of a conventional mechanical creel at between 100g and 1000g, offering the end user greater flexibility in their processing.
Cygnet Texkimp is one of the world’s leading creel manufacturers, having developed some of the first carbon fibre unwinding machines ever made in the 1970s. The Flatline Creel sits alongside the company’s portfolio of traditional mechanical creels as well as its range of downstream processing technologies, which include coating, filament winding and prepreg manufacturing machines.