FastRTM Project Demonstrates Manufacturing Of Complex, Net-Shape Composite Parts

April 09 2018

A unique, automated production platform developed by a French industry consortium has demonstrated the feasibility of manufacturing large, net-shape composite parts at industrial scale. It offers a model for automotive manufacturers seeking to integrate weight-saving structural composites into their mass production vehicles.

The fully automated manufacturing platform, developed by the French FastRTM consortium, consists of a press, modular tooling, high pressure injection machines, temperature-controlled flow tube technology, two 6-axis robots, online monitoring and control, and a fast-cure resin system from Hexion Inc. (Columbus, OH, US). Together, the equipment and materials enable an innovative process called compression resin transfer molding (C-RTM).

In this two-step process, Hexion’s resin system – EPIKOTE Resin TRAC 06170 / EPIKURE Curing Agent TRAC 06170 / HELOXY Additive TRAC 06805 – is injected into a mold with a preform, a preliminary fiber shape, when the press is slightly open, allowing for partial impregnation. Then, a compression stroke presses the resin through the preform for complete impregnation. This allows for very fast resin injection and curing – from 15 seconds to one minute – and less than two-minute part-to-part production.

The epoxy thermoset composite parts made with the Hexion resin system can also be recycled or recovered at the end of their useful life via mechanical recycling, thermal recycling, and chemical recycling.

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