Pillars of composite mass production

Paul Boughton

The value that composites bring to the automotive industry with their strength-to-weight and their stiffness-to-weight ratios cannot be overstressed. In the drive for improved performance and productivity Huntsman Advanced Materials is presenting the automotive sector with the next step-change in composite mass production, which makes part production in less that two minutes a reality.

Hunstman's new offer to the automotive sectors is based around what it calls the ‘four pillars’ of technology, which together deliver exceptional solutions for manufacturers mass part production time optimisation. This highly prized objectives gives automotive businesses the dual benefit of higher productivity, together with greater performance capability.

Huntsman’s four contributing elements are:
•    Fast cure epoxy and preform solutions
•    Injection system versatility
•    Dynamic Fluid Compression Molding (DFCM)
•    Curing and Mold filling simulation

Mass production injection and performance fast cure epoxy solutions 
The development of fast cure epoxy solutions - the technology at the core of much of Huntsman Advanced Materials’ business – continues to impact on the automotive sector.

Designed on the experience gained from the qualification of Araldite LY 3585 Aradur 3458 for the BMW i3 and i8 programs, Araldite LY 3585 /Aradur 3475 injection solution is the latest range additions.

In comparison to the BMW qualified system, the new system allows significant reduction of part to part manufacturing time, from more than 5 minutes to less than 3 minutes with HP-RTM process.

Araldite LT 3366 is an epoxy binder qualified for mass production of powdered fabrics and preforms. Araldite LY 3585/Aradur 3475 is a very fast-curing epoxy system designed for highly structural applications.

The Araldite LY 3585/Aradur® 3475 system can be used in both RTM and WCM processes. RTM is capable of consistently producing composite parts with high-strength, complex geometrics, tight dimensional tolerances and part quality to standards associated with the automotive sector.

Selecting from a range of variations, manufacturers are able to achieve optimum latency in a timely manner. 

The system composition can be adjusted to optimise part production time and take full benefit of HP-RTM and WCM:
•    Injection time optimisation to part size with HP-RTM
•    Very fast cure for WCM (HP-RTM latency over-designed)
•    Prototyping with low temperature molding (standard RTM)

The composition adjustments are not influencing mechanical performance and hence enable the use of the Araldite LY 3585/Aradur 3475 and its versatility for manufacturing composites of different sizes and complexity with reduced qualification cost.

New dynamic fluid compression molding (DFCM) process

Consistent autoclave quality is now achievable in less than two minutes, straight from the mold, using fast-cure Araldite epoxy solutions and characterised by high-fibre content and void-free parts.

Combining a novel process and fast-cure Araldite epoxy solutions, highly structural parts with outstanding properties can be produced in less than 2 minutes. 

This process is simple, fast and cost effective, requiring low pressure (typically 30 bar) and often removing the need for a fibre preform. Exceptional benefits versus standard compression molding: outstanding mechanical performance thanks to fibre volume content up to 65% in a low wastage process, void-free parts produced consistently straight from the mold.

For the automotive sector, there are immediate and important benefits available, particularly reduced investment, lower levels of waste and increased productivity.

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