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The opening in 2011 of the National Composites Centre (NCC) in Bristol, UK, marked a milestone in the UK Composites Strategy, an initiative of the UK government to promote the composites industry in the United Kingdom. At the time, the NCC aimed to become the hub of the UK's effort to develop and implement rapid composite manufacturing technologies and system, offering industrial-scale manufacturing facilities and rapid manufacturing processes capable of building prototypes to validate design concepts.

Karen Laird

January 19, 2016

2 Min Read
NCC installs new high-pressure RTM system from KraussMaffei

The opening in 2011 of the National Composites Centre (NCC) in Bristol, UK, marked a milestone in the UK Composites Strategy, an initiative of the UK government to promote the composites industry in the United Kingdom. At the time, the NCC aimed to become the hub of the UK's effort to develop and implement rapid composite manufacturing technologies and system, offering industrial-scale manufacturing facilities and rapid manufacturing processes capable of building prototypes to validate design concepts. Today, the NCC has production capabilities that range from state-of-the-art robotic and computer controlled manufacturing facilities, to pilot-plant scale thermoforming, pressing and machining equipment, that can meet multi-sector industry demand.

The NCC, which continues to expand and upgrade the available facilities, has now taken a new KraussMaffei RimStar Compact 4/4/4 into operation. The system is equipped with two mixing heads, enabling it to process both epoxy resin and polyurethane in high-pressure resin transfer molding (HP-RTM).

"High-pressure injection using the RimStar Compact allows us to process fast-reacting resin systems. This shortens cycle times, enabling us to produce fiber-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 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 NCC’s decision to go with the HP-RTM technology was swayed by KraussMaffei's extensive experience in implementing the process in series production, making the machine manufacturer a valued source of advice regarding the design and application options of the metering machine.

At the NCC, new production methods are being developed for composite materials and industrial series production. Implementing innovative technologies is intended to make the UK-based companies more competitive on an international level. Particular focus is on the aviation and aerospace, vehicle manufacturing and renewable energy industries.

"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," added Stephen Lambert, Reaction Process Technology Business Manager at KraussMaffei Group UK.

The membership of the NCC has now grown to over 30 industrial companies. In addition, as an open access center the facility is available to all for hire for private venture work on a pay-as-you-go basis.
 

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