Tailored Blank Line

Fiber-reinforced cladding or structural elements are in great demand in times of lightweight construction, especially in the aerospace and automotive industries. In order to reduce production costs, process automation is currently at the top of the agenda for parts manufacturers. What an integrated and automated process can look like is demonstrated by the medium-sized plant manufacturer Dieffenbacher, a family-owned company near Heilbronn with high innovation potential in the composites sector. Dieffenbacher has developed the Tailored Blank Line especially for processing thermoplastic fiber tapes (LFT), consisting of three coordinated machines that together map the complete manufacturing process. Fully automatically, of course. This produces near-contour, three-dimensional components with reduced waste and high precision in short cycle times. This makes the Tailored Blank Line suitable for large-scale production.

Fiberforge lays tapes automatically

The first machine in the production line, called Fiberforge, produces the so-called layup. The tapes reinforced with carbon, glass or natural fibers are cut to length from the spools according to the digital specification and placed on the assembly table. Because it can be rotated and moved, the table allows the unidirectional tapes to be deposited according to the specified load profiles for the parts. Fiberforge uses ultrasonic weld points to fx the tape layers, so the layup can be safely transferred to the next machine by robot.

Consolidation by Fibercon

The next station in the process chain is used to consolidate the layups, i.e. above all to eliminate air inclusions that cannot be avoided when laying the tapes. For this purpose, the workpieces are heated up to 400°C by infrared heating. The Fibercon can accommodate three workpieces at the same time, thus guaranteeing high throughput.

Finale Verformung mit der Fiberpress

Wieder greift ein Industrieroboter das inzwischen zum Tailored Blank gereifte Bauteil aus der Fibercon und legt es in das Werkzeug der Fiberpress ein. Die kompakte Presse überführt mit Pressdrücken von bis zu 50000 kN das flache Laminat in das dreidimensionale Fertigbauteil. Seine Kurzhubzylinder kommen mit wenig Hydrauliköl aus und erlauben auch in diesem Prozessschritt kurze Zykluszeiten. Die Bauweise der Presse ist aus Sicherheitsgründen offen gehalten, damit jederzeit einsehbar ist, was im Pressbereich passiert. Insgesamt arbeiten die Maschinen, wie es für automatisierte Anlagen notwendig ist, in einem für Menschen unzugänglichen Areal.

From the heating chamber to the press

The main design elements were then also incorporated into the Fibercon, such as the beveled front, the white base color, and the blue accents. Unlike the Fiberforge, the Fibercon is visually very calm, in keeping with the rather low-action heating function. Here, too, large glass surfaces allow a quick visual check of the processes - even from a distance. Finally, the Fiberpress is much more dynamic; due to its open construction, the design is primarily located in the upper area of the press. The fronts again feature Dieffenbacher elements such as chamfered edges, which also serve to separate the colors. This paneling, with a large, central maintenance flap, tapers towards the center, emphasizing the press's solid bearings and guides. In the press table at the bottom, the shape from above finds its counterpart, and the drag chains were included as accentuating design elements. In addition to the formal theme of the chamfer, all three presses are also united by their use of color planes. While white and blue, the company's CI colors, have top priority and emphasize the essential areas, secondary areas, such as cladding for control cabinets, take a back seat with their light gray. Dark gray, in turn, stands for static elements, such as the substructure or the base area.

Designaward in gold for Fiberforge

The family design began with the tape layer, the Fiberforge. Here, defortec's design with its lines emphasizes the converting process, starting on the left with the free-standing tape spools, through the enclosed cutting area to the laying table. Transparent surfaces provide a clear view of the interior, while large doors facilitate maintenance. While the design draws attention to the action area, the vacuum unit and control cabinet remain subordinate. At the International Design Award of the State of Baden-Württemberg, the Focus Open, the Fiberforge received the Gold Award in the category of capital goods in 2017.




defortec creates design family

For all three plants in the process chain, defortec developed the industrial design. The design pursues two goals: First, it is to merge the three plants, absolutely different in size, layout and function, into a visually recognizable family. Secondly, the typical design elements of Dieffenbacher should also be reflected. A not at all trivial task that required a deep understanding of the manufacturing process and at the same time was subject to tight economic constraints.

The defortec services at a glance


• process analysis
• design drafts taking into account economic efficiency and maintenance issues
• subsequent design language for multiple machines
• design for an innovative manufacturing processs


Project overview

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A small glossary intended to
simplify the understanding of design Glossary
"Komplexität (lateinisch complexum, umfassen oder zusammenfassen)"


Ist das Verhalten eines Systems beide dem alle Komponenten auf einer abgestimmt sind, miteinander interagieren. Es ist eine Vernetzung mit verschiedenen Systemelementen und wird als eine Art Vielfalt von Verhaltensmöglichkeiten der Elemente verstanden. Im Design stellt eine komplexe Form den Gegensatz zu einer einfachen, schlichten Form dar. Die komplexe Struktur wird oft hinter einem schlichten und einfachen „Gehäuse/Außenform“ versteckt. Der Zusammenhang bei einer vielschichtigen Struktur ist für viele oft nicht leicht nachvollziehbar.