FEINforming: progress through precision
The Feintool technology plays a key role in the future viability of the fuel cell. The high-precision processing of extremely thin material thicknesses leads to a reduction in weight and volume and therefore to a more compact arrangement of the fuel cells in the stack. Increased power density in the cell stack paves the way for powerful and compact vehicle drive systems.
Feintool offers a complete, customer-specific solution for the production of optimized bipolar plates from a single source:
- Presses specially designed for bipolar plate production
- FEM-optimized tool design
- Comprehensive engineering services
- Prototype, preproduction, and high-volume series production
the formula for innovation
As a leader in the field of fineblanking and forming technology, we developed a process that is among the most innovative manufacturing technologies in terms of precision, tolerance minimization, component optimization, and production efficiency – FEINforming.
Bipolar plates constitute the key component of polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells. This is exactly where FEINforming comes in.
The unique advantage is that all of the internal and external geometries relevant to the stack as well as the flow field can be produced simultaneously in an integrated process, resulting in a maximum of precision.
The reduction in weight, material thickness, and volume of the 200 to 400 bipolar plates (“repeating cells”) installed in the stack results in an increase in power density.
A stack’s most important design elements consist of the bipolar plate and the MEA. Together, these two components largely determine the stack’s performance.
The integrated membrane electrode assembly (MEA) consists of several layers to transfer the reaction gas to the proton-conducting membrane.
The bipolar plate is the heart of the fuel cell.
The PEM technology used in vehicles converts hydrogen (H2) with oxygen (O2) from the air into water. In this process, the bipolar plate plays a central role. It structurally serves as the carrier plate and forms the two poles of the fuel cell – the anode plate carrying H2 and the cathode plate for the O2 supply. It is responsible for:
- Uniformly distributing the reaction gases (H2 and O2)
- Supplying the gases to the catalyst layer
- Extracting water generated by the reaction
- Passing the electrical current resulting from the reaction from cell to cell within the cell stack
- Efficiently dissipating the heat from the reaction
FEINforming makes it possible to process metals of the thinnest material thicknesses with minimal tolerances. The perfected interaction between the press (Feintool FB one) and the tools guarantees maximum precision. Optimizing the use of materials, design implementation, and production unlocks the potential to cut costs and increase the efficiency of fuel-cell technology. Bipolar plates manufactured via FEINforming stand out thanks to:
- Continuous homogeneity of the channel height without fluctuations in the resulting material thickness
- Exactly positioned reference points for laser welding
- Simultaneous cutting of inner and outer shapes for maximum precision
- Implementation of extremely small radii
- Specific transfer system for high throughput
- Just a few production steps
Customer-focused range of services
Using a simulation process developed in-house by Feintool, we can quickly identify feasible solutions for the predefined target design of a bipolar plate. The initial tool design is based on computer simulation. We use a representative sample to validate the result in a real-world testing process. Any required improvements are carried out afterwards. During this process, we review and optimize the geometry and avoid costly and time-consuming iterations of the production tool.
Prototype and preproduction manufacturing
The goal of prototyping is to validate and optimize stack performance. Pre-series production is carried out at Feintool in Switzerland. During this testing phase, we evaluate the design of the bipolar plate in a real stack. This testing process systematically uncovers possible design weaknesses.
Feintool is your global technology partner for the cost-efficient, high-volume production of precision sheet-metal parts.
- Benefit from our globally connected production facilities located close to the major automotive markets
- High-performance bipolar plates increase the power density of fuel-cell stacks and are the key to viable fuel-cell drives
- Join us in leveraging the future potential of hydrogen-based fuel-cell drive systems for renewable transportation concepts
Would you like to learn more about high-performance bipolar plates? Download brochure