Production Lines for Bipolar Plates

At Graebener® Bipolar Plate Technologies we realize customized systems and production lines for the cost-effective production of metal bipolar plates.

From engineering through application laboratory services up to customized production lines – we implement solutions tailored to individual market demands.

At Graebener® Bipolar Plate Technologies we realize customized systems and production lines for the cost-effective production of metal bipolar plates.

From engineering through application laboratory services up to customized production lines – we implement solutions tailored to individual market demands.

OverviewGraebener® Production LinesGraebener® Application Laboratory

Based on our core competences forming, cutting and welding we are one of the first companies to have been involved in research and development of production processes for bipolar plates – the heart of a fuel cell – for almost 20 years.

The fuel cell is not only interesting for future mobility, logistics or the generation of electricity and heat for houses, but for all applications of energy generation where environmental aspects, energy efficiency and sustainability are relevant: We believe that the future belongs to hydrogen. At Graebener® Bipolar Plate Technologies we want to make our idea of the future tangible for the present. Not only do we want to create leading and lasting quality for our customers in the spirit of our company's history, we also strive to develop solutions that already provide today what the world needs tomorrow. Thus, we are committed to creating the quality standard for technologies for the production of bipolar plates and to developing future-oriented processes which help you to produce components for hydrogen-based energy generation, precisely tailored, integrable, scalable and thus economically efficient.

The fact that we are good at this is not only proven by our renowned references, network and research partners, but also – quite pragmatically – by more than 80 bipolar plate designs implemented and over 100,000 plates manufactured on our systems.

Benefit from our customized and scalable systems. We support you with holistic engineering from the very beginning.

Hydroforming:

As a pioneer in hydroforming, we deliberately rely on the process for which we are known worldwide as experts for the production of bipolar plates. The advantages of hydroforming are obvious: With so-called external high-pressure forming, extremely filigree structures can be realized in series using extremely thin materials from 50 µm. In contrast to mechanical forming, which at first glance may seem more cost-effective, especially for series production, hydroforming offers numerous advantages that pay off in the long term:

  • Reproducible forming results at a wall thickness starting at 50 µm
  • Gentle forming with integrated cooling
  • Very homogeneous wall thickness over the entire duct cross-section (no constrictions)
  • Forming of pre-coated materials
  • Ideal shaping of the flat contact surfaces
  • Use of different material thicknesses in one tool
  • Flexible adaptation of the manufacturing parameters in the forming process
  • Considerably lower tooling costs and almost no tool wear
  • High productivity thanks to patented multipurpose tool
  • Leak test integrated in the forming process and 100% inspection of each individual plate
  • Resourcefriendly ramp-up of production lines

Since bipolar plate production is all about repeatable precision, attention to detail and high value, we believe that hydroforming is the optimal process – and one of the quality features that makes Graebener® Bipolar Plate Technologies your sustainable competitive edge.

 

Cutting and welding:

Furthermore, as an experienced technology and system partner, we are also at your side for the subsequent cutting and welding processes. For precise cutting and welding results, we use state-of-the-art laser technology. To achieve the best results even with the smallest structures, we work with the highest beam qualities. In addition to this, we devote particular attention to the positioning accuracy, repeatability and long-term stability of the system.

Reference results of our technology in detail:
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Forming
Forming
  • Material: 1.4301
  • Wall thickness: 50 µm
  • Pitch: 0.75 mm
  • Channel depth: 0.25 mm
  • Result: extremely accurate, high repeat accuracy and reproducibility

 

Laser Cutting
Laser Cutting
  • Material: 1.4301
  • Wall thickness: 50 µm
  • Pitch: 0.75 mm
  • Channel depth: 0.25 mm
  • Result: precise cut, burr-free, no heat tinting

 

Laser Welding
Laser Welding
  • Material: 1.4301
  • Wall thickness: 50 µm
  • Laser spot diameter: less than 100 µm
  • Channel depth: 0.25 mm
  • Result: no weld seam errors, high position accuracy, small seam widths

 

The prototyping:

In our Graebener® application laboratory we are able to make your ideas tangible even before production. Our machinery used for prototyping is constantly being further developed in view of growing market requirements. Thus, we deliver tangible, high-quality results to verify the manufacturability of your bipolar plate design. To help you decide quickly and cost-efficiently whether your original design or our optimization ideas are actually feasible, this is examined using a selected area of the plate as test geometry – saving you time and money.

For verification purposes, we work with our own especially developed and patented machine concepts – consisting of Graebener® hydroforming press, Graebener® cutting system and Graebener® welding system – which are ideally suited for a wide range of plate dimensions and materials from a foil thickness of 50 µm and which can realize the narrowest radii.

 

The pre-buy services – production from smallest lot sizes to small series:

Before you take the next step and invest in your own Graebener® manufacturing technology, we would be pleased to support you in the production of your plate within the scope of our pre-buy services – from smallest lot sizes to small series with capacities of up to 50,000 parts per year.

If you intend to set up your own production in the future, the process parameters from our application laboratory can be transferred one-to-one to your own Graebener® lines. From the initial consultation to the feasibility analysis and tooling up to the optimal production, our experience is incorporated into your individual line solution.

From test geometry to small series – what we do for you in the application laboratory:

MaterialStainless steel, titanium, copper, clad materials; also pre-coated materials (e.g. Sandvik Sanergy®)
FormingPlates up to a size of 2,500 cm2 with foil thicknesses from 50 µm
Cutting

Partial and final cuts using laser fusion cutting

WeldingUsing laser scanner technology

Measuring/testing

Detailed evaluation using microsection and microscopic measurement

Leak tests

100% leak test of the formed single plate directly integrated in the process; leak test of all media areas of the welded bipolar plate

Coating

Use of pre-coated material; alternatively desired post-coating carried out by our partners

In case of questions regarding seal or coating concepts you can benefit from our tight-knit network of partners. As integral part of the fuel cell industry and Board Member of the VDMA (German Engineering Federation) work group fuel cells we have been in close contact with the most experienced developers and manufacturers for many years.

You buy a Graebener® solution

You get more than just a machine or system. You get a reliable partner who understands your processes and who develops the optimum solution for the market challenges together with you.

Customer promise