A new German system could greatly speed production of molded carbon composites to as low as six minutes. The fastest production speed currently in use is a brand-new Plasan system in Michigan that makes parts in about 17 minutes. The process coudl also be used to speed part production for new aircraft such as the Boeing Dreamliner.
BASF Polyurethanes (formerly known as Elastogran) has developed a highly reactive and
compact crosslinking polyurethane system for the relatively fast production of high-performance parts of fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP).
The material is being tested in partnership with the Institute of Plastics Processing (IKV) in Industry and the Skilled Crafts at RWTH Aachen University on an automated “gap impregnation” unit that was developed in 2009.
In the new gap impregnation process which competes with resin transfer molding (RTM), a temporary flow gap is created. When the mold is inclined, resin can be injected quickly, impregnating a fiber preform in a few seconds. As a result, highly reactive systems, such as the new product from BASF can be used to replace epoxy RTM systems.
For the tests, both flat parts and curved parts with varying thicknesses and a projected surface area of 500 x 500 mm² are used. The parts are made of glass and carbon fiber-reinforced plastics. The fiber volume is 40% to 50%.
Depending on the volume of the part, the injection, impregnation and consolidation account for a maximum of 23 seconds, while crosslinkage of the parts in the mold, heated isothermally to 80 °C, takes around four minutes.