Surface Generation, a provider of advanced carbon fibre processing technologies, has announced it is working with Warwick Manufactutring Group (WMG) and AGC AeroComp
osites (AGC) to develop new composite press-forming processes for automotive and aerospace manufacturers that could cut production cost and cycle times.
Surface Generation is developing new press-forming mould faces incorporating its patented PtFS technology for the production of high-performance thermoplastic composite components. By integrating Surface Generation’s active thermal management technologies into the mould face itself, WMG and AGC are able to continuously adapt heating and cooling levels for each mould area and process stage in real-time, with the expectation of improving both the quality and throughput of compression moulding applications.
The work is in support of the Composites Innovation Cluster’s Thermocomp project, which is seeking to develop short cycle time, high volume manufacturing processes that can be used by automotive and aerospace manufacturers for producing carbon fibre-reinforced thermoplastic components.
“PtFS provides automotive and aerospace manufacturers with a new level of sophistication in compression moulding,” explained Ben Halford, Chief Executive at Surface Generation.
“The ability to dynamically control the heat applied to each mould area throughout the cure cycle means manufacturers can quickly and cost-effectively upgrade existing production lines for thermoplastic composites and significantly reduce their cost of production. As part of an integrated production line PtFS makes it possible for manufacturers to achieve one minute Takt times for thermoplastic components.”
Geraint Williams, Project Manager at WMG, added: “A major barrier to mainstream adoption of novel, aligned fibre-reinforced thermoplastics within the automotive sector is the difficulty of economically achieving short cycle times within a high volume production environment. Surface Generation's PtFS technology has the potential to meet this challenge by eliminating process stages and enabling manufacturers to rapidly form composite components using a one-shot stamp-forming process.”
Dave Conway, Materials Technology Director at AGC AeroComposites, said: “Aerospace manufacturers recognise that every gram counts when it comes to building lighter, more fuel-efficient aircraft, but traditional press forming processes are not economically viable for producing even medium volume complex shaped parts. By incorporating its revolutionary PtFS process into conventional press forming processes, Surface Generation has opened the door to a very exciting new era in aerospace manufacturing