Using the theme ‘solutions for all processes’, the company says it will demonstrate its reach across key markets, including Aerospace, Automotive, Rail and Oil & Gas and technologies such as Prepreg, Fast Resin Transfer Moulding (Fast RTM), Compression Moulding, Filament Winding and Pultrusion.
The nature of Huntsman’s involvement in parts, processes and industries will be illustrated by the use of touch screen presentations and there will be specific examples of the latest developments within the business, such as Dynamic Fluid Compression Moulding (DFCM).
Huntsman explains that this most recent advance in epoxy technology involves a new epoxy resin system, which produces structural parts with autoclave quality in less than a minute. The process combines a new 30-second cure epoxy with a novel compression moulding technique to make one-minute cycle times a reality for structural components without any further post-curing. The system has important cost benefit implications in high-volume applications such as those found in the automotive market, where thermoset technology for high performance structural parts is now readily achievable.
Huntsman says the current state-of-the-art commercial epoxy solution for high-volume manufacture of composite parts is the ARALDITE system used to manufacture the BMW i-Series of cars. It claims that this system has a cure time of two minutes at 130°C, giving a total cycle time for compression moulding process of around two minutes 30 seconds. The new rapid-cure ARALDITE epoxy system is described as not only faster but it also displays a higher Tg enabling robust processing up to 150°C. According to Huntsman Advanced Materials, these factors combine to give a cure time of only 30 seconds at 140°C, meaning that 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, adds Huntsman Advanced Materials.
The simplicity of the new moulding process removes the need for high-pressure injection and in many cases even the need for a bonded fibre preform, removing a complex and costly step in production. With the new DFCM process, equipment investment costs are reduced in comparison to High Pressure RTM (HP-RTM) or Compression-RTM, since lower mould pressures mean a lighter press is required, plus the need for a high-pressure injection machine is eliminated.
Huntsman says that one of the main advantages of the novel process is that it reduces void content of laminates in comparison to conventional Wet-Compression Moulding (WCM) process. It allows typical porosity content of less than 1%, making it comparable to HP-RTM or autoclave prepregs. It says that 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 (for instance, made with Zoltek 50k PANEX 35 fibres) were similarly easy to impregnate, with virtually void-free parts, even when parts were made with a 960gsm plain weave fabric.
In other news, Huntsman has seen two further accolades for innovation, which will be presented at JEC World.
The first is a JEC World 2016 Innovation Award won in partnership with Compose, IndAC and ThermoFLUX for a joint entry in the Thermoset Resins category under the title ‘Structural Epoxy parts with autoclave quality in less than 1 minute’.
Equally valued is another joint enterprise under the auspices of world leader in renewable energy, Acciona Infrastructures in Spain, along with close collaborators AIMPLAS, DOW, SAERTEX, Owens Corning and Autoridad Portuaria de Valencia. This project was to design and construct the first ever all composite lighthouse.
Huntsman’s Head of European Technical Support, Philippe Christou, has been co-ordinating the company’s role in the projects and the awards submissions. He says innovation and partnership are fundamental building blocks in the company’s ethos.
“These two projects are hard evidence that when companies work together hand-in-hand with shared research, technologies and ideas, successful innovation will be the outcome. Huntsman would like to congratulate all the companies who worked on these JEC global award-winning projects.”
In the first application, Huntsman’s industry ‘first’ in providing structural epoxy parts with autoclave quality in less than 1 minute was recognised as critical to success.
The process innovation involved is Dynamic Fluid Compression moulding (DFCM) which delivers consistent quality straight from the mould, using fast-cure ARALDITE epoxy solutions and characterised by high-fibre content and void-free parts.
In the Lighthouse project it was necessary to develop a low exothermic, low viscosity epoxy based infusion and RTM resin with long pot life and also a suitable epoxy based structural adhesive which was thixotropic and easy to apply on vertical surfaces.
The qualities of the resin were particularly important to meet the challenges encountered in moving from an open resin bath process to resin injection. Ultimately it was necessary to create a new resin system which offered low viscosity, low exothermic and long pot life.
Philippe Christou concludes, “JEC Innovation Awards are recognised throughout the composites industry and we are delighted to have shared in not just one but two this year. Even more important, though, is the fact that in both cases there have been direct and practical results which are providing end user benefits.”
For more information about Huntsman and its processes and products, visit its team in Hall 6, Stand L31.
Companies: Huntsman Corporation