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A continuous compression moulding system for efficient manufacture of organic sheets

Economic lightweight construction is a major factor for the implementation of new automotive concepts in the 21st century. Fibre-reinforced plastics offer a particularly high potential for reducing the weight of vehicles. However, a major problem in this area remains the high manufacturing costs of the organic sheets. The new interval heating press technology from the company Rucks offers a solution to this problem.

In addition to its considerably higher cost-effectiveness, the process has the great advantage that as well as the high pressing forces that can be achieved, temperatures above 450° can also be reached effortlessly. This is advantageous compared with double belt presses.

The system primarily consists of six stations. The unwinding station prepares the material that is to be consolidated on rolls. This means that six layers of material can be pressed into one organic sheet. If necessary, the number of laminate layers can also be increased.

A feed table ensures that the layers are aligned correctly and the current material usage is always calculated on the control side using incremental length measurement.

Before the actual consolidation, the material is heated in a pre-press to approximately 100°C and pre-compressed with a press capacity of 3 kN. This makes it possible to also process awkwardly shaped non-woven fabric in the machine. The material is pulled semi-continuously through the press together with the separating sheets by the feeder arranged behind the press. This achieves theoretical speeds of 200mm/s. Depending on the number and thickness of the layers, up to 1.7m of laminate can be produced per minute.

The core of the machine is the heating-cooling press with a press capacity of 2,000 kN, which is fitted with a synchronized hydraulic system. This is constructed with four press cylinders with power and location control. In addition to the very high planeparallelism of +/- 0.02mm, a special feature of the design is the option of deliberately placing the heating plates in a sloping position (1.5mm/1.2m).

Furthermore, the heating plates have six individual heating zones over a length of 1,200mm. They are thermally separated and can go up to 451°C. As a result, material-specific heating and cooling curves can be run without any problems to form the melt front in the direction of manufacture. A thickness measuring device is used for quality control purposes, which determines the precise thickness of the pressed semi-finished product at four measuring points using a laser sensor.

The final station of the machine is the cutting station, which cuts the endless material into defined pieces. Alternatively, the material can also be run with winders on a roll. All the stations are connected to each other on the control side and provide a fully automated process.

The machine, which is located at the Textile Research Institute in Chemnitz, Saxony, can process glass fibres, carbon fibres, aramid fibres, natural fibres, as well as PP, PA, PES, PPS, PEEK, PEI… or also hybrid non-woven fabrics (reinforcement fibres + thermoplastic fibres).

In addition to the testing facility described above, Rucks has supplied seven continuous compression moulding system over the last few years and is currently manufacturing two further ones with a heating plate width of 1.3m and a maximum press capacity of 8,400 kN.

Companies: RUCKS Maschinenbau GmbH

Industries: Automotive and Road Transportation, Other Composite End-use areas

Technologies: Compression Moulding

Terms: Innovations, News Worldwide

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This article has been edited by Basalt.Today
Source
This article has been written on JEC Composites Magazine
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