The work will aim to identify styrene-free prepreg formulations with longer room temperature shelf life, shorter cycle times and reduced cost. Advances in these areas will increase productivity, decrease scrap and material costs, and enable adoption into the automotive industry.
The IACMI is a Manufacturing USA institute driven by the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and the US Department of Energy. The team on this project includes Michelman, Ashland, Zoltek, University of Dayton Research Institute (UDRI), JobsOhio, and Michigan State University (MSU).
As part of this technical collaboration, researchers at MSU and UDRI will identify cost-effective combinations of fibre sizings from Michelman, resins from Ashland, and carbon fibres from Zoltek that can be used to fabricate prepregs which can be compression moulded into composite parts. The goal is to develop vinyl ester resin/fibre sizing/carbon fibre combinations that are styrene-free and that have room temperature storage capability of at least three months and cure times less than three minutes.
Michelman reports that the success of this IACMI project will help catalyse the adoption of carbon fibre and vinyl ester composites into automotive applications by producing a more cost-effective technology with lower material costs, a more productive technology with reduced cure time and reduced scrap, and a safer technology with the elimination of styrene. These technology innovations should prove to be an attractive value proposition for the multibillion dollar automotive industry and help it to meet its targets for lightweighting of vehicles.