The Fraunhofer Project Centre for Composites Research at the University of Western Ontario has installed a compression molding press and compounding equipment supplied by Dieffenbacher Group (Eppingen, Germany) in order to further research efforts directed at composite materials for use in automotive applications.
The FPC Western is a joint collaboration between Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology (ICT, Pfinztal) and the University of Western Ontario (London, ON), which is renowned for its research in materials and surfaces.
Direct long fiber thermoplastic (D-LFT) as well as direct-strand molding compound (D-SMC) processing techniques are among those to be developed at the center when it is fully operational in the summer of next year. D-SMC dispenses with the need to prepare SMC preforms and store them at low temperature. Furthermore, compounding at the press just prior to molding, lowers energy consumption and enhances surface appearance. High pressure resin transfer molding (HP-RTM) will also be investigated at the center.
D-SMC and HP-RTM are new hybrid molding processes that were co-developed by Dieffenbacher in separate consortia: D-SMC with Fraunhofer ICT and DSM Resins (Schaffhausen, Switzerland); and HP-RTM with Fraunhofer and Krauss Maffei Technologies (Munich, Germany).
"Western's decision to equip the new center with industrial- rather than research-scale equipment was done quite deliberately," notes Christian Fais, manager- General Sales & Projects, Dieffenbacher North America. "OEMs can schedule time on the center's 2,500-tonne hydraulic compression press and any of the compounding lines and be sure that if their part or tool works at the center, then it should process equally well in their plants. This way we take the guesswork out of program scale-up and help speed prove-out of new part designs, processes, and technologies."-[email protected]