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The market for fuel cell and electrolyser applications in Europe is developing very dynam-ically and offers high potential. In order to produce metallic bipolar plates – the core of a fuel cell – economically and on an industrial scale, the forming and further process needs to meet highest requirements in terms of tightness, precision and repeatability. With the FEINforming forming process developed by Feintool and SITEC’s efficient laser welding process FLEX Welding, the companies also want to take off in Europe. Together, highprecision individual plates are joined to form bipolar plates on appropriate systems and with the support of an integrated process consisting of FEINforming, FLEX Welding and FLEX Inspection.

Thanks to the partnership, both companies are able to supply customers with the highest quality and most competitive high-volume bipolar plates. The cooperation ranges from engineering to marketing and sales to procurement, prototyping and quality manage-ment. In the course of the cooperation, the two companies will also continuously develop the manufacturing processes and add further complementary processes, such as coat-ing.

Dr. Winfried Blümel, Head of Feintool System Parts Europe Fineblanking & Forming, sees important advantages in the cooperation: «Two strong partners are combining their specialist skills and want to produce high volumes of metallic bipolar plates in Europe. Every vehicle powered by fuel cells requires up to 400 bipolar plates, or 800 individual plates. The high demand offers great potential that we want to develop.”

Dr. Jörg Lässig, Managing Director of SITEC Industrietechnologie GmbH, adds: “We bring our many years of experience as a manufacturer of precision parts in large series and global system supplier of highperformance laser processing systems as well as au-tomation solutions to this cooperation. With our joint expertise, we are able to provide our customers with even more comprehensive support in realizing their hydrogen projects.”

FEINforming: Advantage through precision

Feintool’s FEINforming technology is key to the future viability of fuel cells (generation of electrical energy from hydrogen) and electrolysers (generation of hydrogen from electrical energy). The precise processing of the thinnest material leads to a reduction in weight and volume and thus to a more compact arrangement of the fuel cells in the stack. A higher power density in the cell stack clears the way for powerful and compact vehicle drives or hydrogen generation systems. Thanks to its experience in plant construction for highly complex products and the high speed with which they are manufactured, Feintool offers an optimized process for the production of bipolar plates in the form of a custom-ized complete solution from a single source: presses specialized in bipolar plate produc-tion, FEM-optimized tool design, comprehensiveengineering services as well as proto-type, pre-series and series production.

FLEX Welding: Laser welding of the highest efficiency, process reliability and quality

The efficient operation of the laser in industrial production and the technological develop-ment of processsafe solutions are part of 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 auto-mated production systems. For the production of metallic bipolar plates, the company re-lies on the specially developed FlexCell production system for needs-optimized produc-tion.