Huntsman Advanced Materials develops a new compression molding process, making the one-minute cycle time a reality for
Hall 6 Booth L31
JEC World 2016, Paris
8-10 March 2016
Drawing upon over 60 years’ heritage as innovators in high performance adhesives, Huntsman Advanced Materials is continuing to deliver new and unique technologies that create value for its customers and has announced at JEC World 2016 that it has developed a new epoxy resin system and a novel and cost efficient process to give an entirely new compression molding concept.
By combining a new fast-cure ARALDITE® epoxy chemistry with this new compression molding process, Huntsman is not only facilitating the simple production of structural composite parts, but is also enabling cycle times as low as one minute without any further post-curing. For high-volume applications such as automotive, this process makes cost-efficient manufacture of high-performance structural parts using thermoset technology a reality.
State-of-art epoxy solutions
The current, commercial epoxy solution for high-volume manufacture of composite parts is the ARALDITE® system that’s used to manufacture the BMW i-Series of cars. With a cure time of two minutes at 130°C, this system gives a total cycle time of around two minutes 30 seconds. However, the latest rapid-cure ARALDITE® epoxy system is not only quicker, but it also displays a higher Tg, thus enabling robust processing up to 150°C.
Bringing these factors together provides a cure time of just 30 seconds at 140°C, meaning th
at a press cycle time of only one minute is possible, without any further post-curing of the part. Following curing, the epoxy system displays a tensile elongation in excess of 5% with a Tg of 120°C.
The simplicity of a new molding process
To complement this new, rapid-cure epoxy system, an innovative Dynamic Fluid Compression Molding (DFCM) process has also been developed by Huntsman. The simplicity of the new process removes the need for high-pressure injection and in many cases, even the need for a bonded fibre preform, thus eliminating a complex and costly step in production. Furthermore, resin impregnation of the fibres through-thickness virtually eradicates fibre-wash; a common problem with high-volume Resin Transfer Molding (RTM) production parts.
In tests carried out by Huntsman, it was established that one of the main advantages of the new process is that it reduces void content of laminates in comparison to conventional Wet-Compression Molding (WCM) process. It allows typical porosity content of less than 1%, making it comparable to High Pressure-RTM (HP-RTM) or autoclave prepregs.
Significantly, fibre wet-out is so effective that fibre volume contents of 66% can be easily achieved with no special processing conditions. Heavy-tow industrial fabrics proved similarly easy to impregnate, with virtually void-free parts, even when parts were made with a 960 gsm plain weave fabric.
Outstanding mechanical properties for high performance structural applications
With the new DFCM process, equipment investment costs are reduced in comparison to HP-RTM or Compression-RTM, since lower mold pressures mean a lighter press is required, plus the need for a high-pressure injection machine
is also eliminated.
The combination of high-fibre volume content and low-void content ensures exceptional mechanical properties for high-performance, structural applications, exceeding levels currently possible with HP-RTM processing and yet offering a faster and lower-cost process.
Compared to conventional compression molding, where part geometry is limited to essentially flat parts, the new process easily achieves full-fibre impregnation, even with deep draw parts.
Traditional compression molding commonly employs a surplus of resin and fibre during molding in order to eliminate air bubbles, which are pushed to the outside of the part by the surplus resin. Using the new compression molding process, wastage is largely eliminated since no surplus of resin or fibre is required in order to remove air from the part.
Another step forward from HP-RTM
By creating a new range of opportunities in the mass-production of composites parts, Huntsman’s innovative compression molding concept takes the industry another step forward from HP-RTM in the journey of composites to replace metals.
In the space of just a few years, the minimum part cycle-time for high-performance composites has reduced from 20-30 minutes, to a part-to-part cycle-time of 5-7 minutes. The recent developments with HP-RTM, using new resin systems and new automation methods play a major part in this remarkable improvement.
With Huntman’s latest innovation making the one-minute cycle time an actuality, epoxy thermosets are becoming very appealing to OEMs for new, mass-production applications.
New advancement creates opportunities
Whilst thermosetting prepregs are an effective replacement for metals in high performance applications, their high cost or long processing times are often a barrier to usage. This new advancement from Huntsman also creates the anticipated opportunities to replace metal
High-performance thermoplastic composites or recent fast-curing prepregs overcome the long process time of prepregs, but raw material expenditure remains high. In addition, processing costs are also higher due to processing temperatures in the range of 250-300°C, thus creating high energy expenses.
In comparison, the high fibre-volume content, high quality and part consistency together with the reduced cost of a direct process ensures that this innovation leads the way for new composite applications.
The nature of Huntsman’s involvement in parts, processes and industries is further illustrated at JEC World 2016, with the use of touch screen presentations that detail specific examples of the latest developments within the business, such as the new DFCM process.
Huntsman’s attendance at JEC has become synonymous with its record of product and process innovation, for more information, please visit the Huntsman sales team on Stand L31, in Hall 6 to discuss any of its products or applications.
Huntsman Corporation is a publicly traded global manufacturer and marketer of differentiated chemicals with 2015 revenues of approximately $10 billion. Our chemical products number in the thousands and are sold worldwide to manufacturers serving a broad and diverse range of consumer and industrial end markets. We operate more than 100 manufacturing and R&D facilities in approximately 30 countries and employ approximately 15,000 associates within our 5 distinct business divisions. The company’s unique portfolio includes a broad range of epoxy resins and formulated systems which appeal to companies working in challenging markets who want to be at the forefront of innovation and pr
oduct development. For more information about Huntsman Advanced Materials, please visit our website at
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