New open mold composite process yields parts in sub-minute cycle times

Japanese materials and additives company Adeka and Teijin Group affiliate GH Craft—the group’s composite structure design, development and evaluation unit—announced today that they have jointly developed the world’s first fiber-to-composite (FtoC) molding process to laminate fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) in open molds. Adeka and GH Craft unveiled carbon-fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) samples made with their new FtoC Molding Process at SAMPE Japan in Tokyo, November 29 to December 1. The FtoC Molding Process automates resin impregnating, curing and laminating processes while aligning highly oriented fibers. A special new rapid-curing epoxy resin developed by Adeka enables FRP to be cured in just tens of seconds with GH Craft’s new molding process using infrared radiation.

Open mold process for CFRPs yields components with significantly –enhanced mechanical attributes.

Large-scale equipment such as curing ovens and press molds are not needed because the FRP can be laminated in an open mold. Also, compared to conventional composite production, the FtoC Molding Process considerably reduces fiber waste by directly placing the fibers in the molding tool without requiring intermediate steps. Moreover, by extending and highly orienting the fibers, the process produces glass-fiber-reinforced plastics (GFRP) that offers significantly improved performance, including 100 percent more bending strength, 40 percent more tensile strength and 75 percent more interlayer shear strength compared to conventional GRFP made with conventional resin transfer molding (RTM).

Going forward, Adeka will develop lineups of specialized resins for the FtoC Molding Process and GH Craft will develop practical applications. Adeka and GH Craft will jointly verify the effectiveness of the FtoC Molding Process through the manufacture of practical products. Furthermore, the companies aim to jointly create a new composite market sector by working to establish the FtoC Molding Process as a de facto standard for FRP production.

Conventional FRPs are comprised of aligned unidirectional fiber that are impregnated with matrix thermoset resin and then molded by application of heat for curing. Conventional thermoset molding processes, such as autoclave and RTM, have drawbacks including long manufacturing cycles, high production costs, including for large equipment such as curing ovens and press molds needed for large-scale composites, and the need for intermediate trimming steps that produce large amounts of fiber waste. In addition, rather than highly orienting fibers, conventional thermoset molding processes twist the fibers in matrix resin, making it generally difficult to achieve high-tenacity FRPs.

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