The new machine installed at the NCC
The National Composites Centre (NCC) in Bristol has expanded its TechCentre with a new KraussMaffei RimStar Compact 4/4/4 mixing and metering machine.
The installation of the machine comes as the NCC looks to develop new production methods for composite materials and advance into industrial series production in a number of markets.
"The composites market is experiencing pronounced growth in the UK. In vehicle manufacturing, the big OEMs are advancing lightweight construction development and the use of CFRP in structural components. The aviation industry is also very active," adds Stephen Lambert, Reaction Process Technology Business Manager at KraussMaffei Group UK.
The new mixing and metering machine can process both epoxy resin and polyurethane (PUR) and enables short cycle times for production of lightweight components.
"High-pressure injection using the RimStar Compact allows us to process fast-reacting resin systems. This shortens cycle times, enabling us to produce fibre-reinforced components in large quantities," explained Wolfgang Hinz, Product and Sales Manager Business Unit Composites and Surfaces at KraussMaffei.
"Previously, the HP-RTM process primarily used epoxy resin as the matrix material. Recently, however, an increasing number of components are being made of polyurethane in the HP-RTM (high pressure RTM) process. Because the RimStar Compact 4/4/4 can process both matrix systems, it gives the NCC and its member companies great flexibility for carrying out application-oriented test series."
The National Composites Centre opened in 2011 and is a central element of the UK Composites Strategy, an initiative of the UK government to promote the composites industry and make it more competitive. This is being achieved through implementing innovative technologies, with a particular focus on aviation and aerospace, vehicle manufacturing and renewable energy industries.
The research is focused on areas including the automated manufacturing of fibre preforms, component manufacturing using autoclaves and compression moulding and post-mould processing of the fibre-reinforced components. Furthermore, measurement and inspection systems for visual investigation and thermal and rheological analysis are available.
Over 30 industrial companies are now registered members of the NCC. The total floor space of the institute was expanded to 8500 m² recently, with the installation of the RimStar Compact 4/4/4 part of this development. Since then, KraussMaffei has also been a member of the NCC, offering interested companies the opportunity to run tests on-site.