Following a successfully launched cooperation in Asia, the two technology companies Feintool and Sitec have signed a memorandum of understanding to strengthen their cooperation in the field of manufacturing metallic bipolar plates for fuel cells and electrolysers in Europe.
According to Feintool, the market for fuel cell and electrolyzer applications in Europe is developing extremely dynamically and offers a great deal of potential. To produce metallic bipolar plates – the heart of a fuel cell – economically and on an industrial scale, the forming and joining process must meet the highest requirements in terms of tightness, precision and repeatability.
With the Feinforming forming process developed by Feintool and Sitec’s efficient Flex Welding laser welding process, the companies also want to take off in Europe. Together, high-precision individual plates are joined into bipolar plates on appropriate equipment and with the aid of an integrated process comprising fine forming, flex welding and flex inspection. Thanks to the partnership, both companies are able to supply customers with bipolar plates of “the highest quality and competitiveness,” according to Feintool, in large-scale production. The cooperation ranges from engineering, marketing and sales to procurement, prototyping and quality management. In the course of the cooperation, the two companies will also permanently develop the manufacturing processes and add further complementary processes, such as coating.
Dr. Winfried Blümel, Head of Feintool System Parts Europe Fineblanking & Forming, sees important advantages in the cooperation: “Two strong partners are pooling their expertise and want to produce metallic bipolar plates in high volumes in Europe. Each vehicle powered by fuel cells requires up to 400 bipolar plates or 800 individual plates. The high demand offers great potential, which we want to tap.”
Dr. Jörg Lässig, Managing Director of Sitec Industrietechnologie GmbH, adds: “We are contributing our many years of experience as a producer of high-volume precision parts and global system supplier of high-performance laser processing systems and automation solutions to this cooperation. With the joint expertise, we are able to support our customers even more comprehensively in the realization of their hydrogen projects.”
Precision molding: a head start through precision
Feintool’s Feinforming technology is key to the future viability of fuel cells (generating electrical energy from hydrogen) and electrolysers (generating hydrogen from electrical energy). The precise processing of the thinnest materials leads to a reduction in weight and volume and thus to a more compact arrangement of the fuel cells in the stack. Higher power density in the cell stack opens the way for powerful and compact vehicle drives or hydrogen generation plants.
Thanks to its experience in plant engineering for highly complex products and the high speed at which they are manufactured, Feintool offers an optimized process for the production of bipolar plates in the form of a customer-oriented complete solution from a single source: presses specialized in bipolar plate production, FEM-optimized tool design, comprehensive engineering services, and prototype, pilot series and series production.
Flex Welding: Laser welding of the highest efficiency, process reliability and quality
The efficient use of lasers in industrial manufacturing and the technological development of process-safe solutions are among Sitec’s core competencies. The laser works extremely fast, produces excellent weld seams and virtually distortion-free components. Sitec integrates lasers, welding optics and intelligent monitoring systems into automated production lines. For the production of metallic bipolar plates, the company relies on the FlexCell production system developed in-house for demand-optimized manufacturing.