Series production of fiber-reinforced plastic parts with complex geometries is not only very costly but also requires long cycle times. Evonik, in collaboration with Secar Technologie GmbH (Austria), has developed an automated continuous process technology for fabricating 3D parts in a cost-efficient manner. This new process is called “PulPress Technology”, which integrates both pultrusion and press processes.
Process Innovation and Production
ROHACELL® polymethacrylimide (PMI) foam is a strong, lightweight core material used for more than 40 years in sandwich structures in various industries, including aviation, automotive and sports equipment.
The new PulPress technology rely on the properties of ROHACELL® for manufacturing complex composite parts.ROHACELL® has a glass transition temperature (Tg) of at least 180°C (356°F), enabling quick resin curing, and it can be easily thermoformed.
The PulPress process involves guiding a ROHACELL® core into fiber reinforcement and resin injection systems and then feeding it into a movable press system, where the reinforced core is continuously processed at a high temperature and pressure to produce a 3D complex profile part. The fabricated parts have accurate and consistent dimensions, and can also include integrated inserts.
This newly developed and efficient shaping technology is currently available at Secar’s production facility in Austria.
Technical and Economic Advantages
The efficient PulPress process guarantees tight tolerances, high production speed, and superior mechanical properties of finished parts. The throughput of the compact production line is 30 components per hour when standard resin systems are used. Using a fast curing resin system can increase the output.
Rapid and continuous processing with virtually no waste during the production of parts leads to a major reduction in the manufacturing cost, up to 60% compared to traditional FRP processes such as RTM.
The economic benefits of a sandwich component are notable as a finished fiber-reinforced part has a weight of up to 75% less than the typical structural steel components with similar performance. Mechanically, these low density parts exhibit outstanding load carrying capacity during buckling and very high energy absorption capacity during impact.
Large Potential for Many Applications
For instance, in the automotive industry, it is possible to use complex profiles as structural components in the car body or as add-on parts.
The performance of PulPress parts was illustrated by testing a PulPress car bumper demonstrator to the RCAR vehicle crash standard used in setting German insurance ratings. Results revealed a reduction of intrusion depth of almost one-third the part weight.
Highly complex PulPress parts not only offer benefits to the automotive industry, but also to customers in the athletic equipment sector, aviation industry and various other industrial markets.
This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Evonik Industries - ROHACELL.
For more information on this source, please visit Evonik Industries - ROHACELL.