Automated gluing and coating of rotor blades
March 2013 – At this stage, a significant part of regenerative power generation is supplied by wind power plants. The output installed today roughly corresponds to that of 200 nuclear power plants. The share of wind energy in the energy mix will continue to increase, and thus also the need for constantly bigger and more powerful wind power plants. In the rotor blades production, automation is getting more and more important.
Wind power plants consist of the main components tower, nacelle with generator and rotor blades. Especially rotor blades, with a length up to more than 70 m, are largely manufactured by hand. To make a rotor blade, you first laminate the two half shells in molds made of glass fibers, wood and foams. Then, you insert the loadbearing webs. Next, you fold one half shell over the other by means of hydraulic hinges. The contact points between the webs and the blade coat and between the two halves of the blade are glued by an epoxy or PU adhesive. In today's productions, the glue is still manually filled in buckets at the glue treatment station and then distributed on the bonding surfaces.
There is much potential for automation in this process. With the help of a positioning unit, for example a portal, a robot can apply the glue along the rotor blade. Before the application, an intelligent measuring system identifies the blade contour and ensures proper guidance. During measuring of the blade halves, the system also determines the subsequent gap of the rotor blade and calculates the required amount of adhesive. This automated process greatly helps to save material and increase quality.
The automation concept was first presented to the interested public at the Open House 2012 at the Dürr head office in Bietigheim-Bissingen. Dr. Uwe Schmidt, manager of the Wind Energy Gluing Application Development Sealing sector, is going to introduce it in his presentation at the TechnoBond, the conference for industrial gluing technology, on 14 May 2013.
Automation has already progressed further in another production step, the coating of the rotor blades. For a major German wind power plants manufacturer, Dürr built a fully automatic rotor blade coating plant that has already been commissioned. The arguments for automation were the consistently high quality and reduced material consumption attributable to compliance with the minimum thickness of the coats.
The components of the wind power plants are constantly getting bigger, resulting in problems with manual manufacture. This means that the need for robot solutions is increasing. The international price pressure and the demand for trouble-free functioning of the plants over 20 years motivate the industry to ask for automated solutions for all components produced in large volumes. The Dürr Group with its wide range of business units offers comprehensive solutions covering everything from conveyor systems to application equipment and paint shop equipment to air pollution control plants.