Surface Generation (Rutland, UK), a provider of advanced carbon-fiber processing technologies, announced that it is working with WMG at the University of Warwick (Coventry, UK) and AGC AeroComposites (AGC; Derby, UK) to develop new composite press-forming processes for automotive and aerospace manufacturers.
Surface Generation is developing new press-forming mold faces incorporating its patented Production to Functional Specifications (PtFS) technology for the production of high-performance thermoplastic composite components. By integrating Surface Generation's new thermal management technologies into the mold face itself, WMG and AGC are able to continuously adapt heating and cooling levels for each mold area and process stage in real time, with the expectation of improving both the quality and throughput of compression molding 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-fiber-reinforced thermoplastic components.
"PtFS provides automotive and aerospace manufacturers with a new level of sophistication in compression molding," said Ben Halford, Chief Executive at Surface Generation. "The ability to dynamically control the heat applied to each mold 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, commented: "A major barrier to mainstream adoption of novel, aligned fiber-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."
AGC's Materials Technology Director, Dave Conway, said, "Aerospace manufacturers recognize 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 a medium volume part with complex geometry. 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."
Surface Generation is an advanced materials processing company based in Rutland, UK, and has manufacturing facilities in Fort Worth, TX, Tokyo and Taipei, Taiwan. Its patented PtFS process is used to combine, compact, process and meld plastic, glass and composite materials more efficiently and accurately than is possible using traditional injection and compression molding processes. Surface Generation's technologies are used by component providers and manufacturers across a range of industries, including aerospace, automotive, consumer electronics, defense and leisure.