Advanced Composites Compression Molding Parts

TenCate Advanced Composites specializes in designing and developing advanced composite materials for the industrial, aerospace, satellite and consumer products industries. TenCate’s division, CCS Composites designs and fabricates compression molded parts, which are developed using sophisticated fiber reinforced composites. Compression molded parts from TenCate are utilized in various commercial aircraft, jet engines, helicopters, satellite and nacelle structures.

Compression Molding Overview

Compression molded composite parts from CCS Composites offer an alternative solution to metal parts as they are lightweight and exhibit more strength and stiffness. Designers at TenCate are capable of optimizing a metal component into an efficient composite design. In addition, CCS Composites can even mold parts from syntactic thermoset pastes where extremely high service temperatures or low dielectric strengths are needed.

Compression Molding

Materials Used in Compression Molding

Compression molding is an extremely controlled procedure that employs accurate resin infused fiber reinforced tape developed with high, intermediate or standard modulus fibers. Resins can be either thermoplastic such as Nylon, PEEK, PEI and PPS, or thermoset such as epoxy, BMI and cyanate ester. Bulk molding compounds are typically developed by cutting these unitapes into fiber lengths that range between 1/8” and 1”. Fibers with longer lengths tend to have higher strengths, while fibers with smaller lengths enable more intricate structural details to be molded within the part.

Compression Molding

Compression Molding

However, sufficient skill is needed to develop the tool, optimize the part shape to fulfill the loading requisites of the part, and reduce post-molding machining processes. With innumerable material and processing alternatives, CCS Composites makes sure that right selections are made to satisfy the performance, cost and weight requirements of particular applications.

Typical Property Comparison

3AL-2.5V Titanium Alloy 6061-T6 Aluminum Alloy MS-1A MS-1H MS-4A MS-4H
Density (g/cc) 4.5 2.7 1.55 1.52 1.49 1.52
Tensile Strength psi 100,000 44,000 42,000 37,100 45,000 43,800
MPa 689 303 290 256 310 302
Compressive Strength psi 100,000 44,000 41,000 32,800 52,000 47,900
MPa 689 303 283 226 358 330
Flexural Strength psi 100,000 44,000 67,000 63,700 93,000 108,800
MPa 689 303 462 439 641 750
Tensile Modulus msi 15.5 10 19 10 9 6.2
GPa 107 69 131 69 62 43
Compressive Modulus msi 15.8 10.2 16 9.2 8 7.3
GPa 109 70 110 63 55 50
Flexural Modulus msi 15.5 10 13 10 7 9.3
GPa 107 69 90 69 48 64

The Case for Compression Molded Parts

The comparison chart given above illustrates how numerous properties of TenCate’s compression molding compounds contend directly with ordinary metals, and this is only part of the benefit.

Compression Molded Parts

Compression Molded Parts

The first figure represents a simple metal bracket, while the second figure shows that the latest composite bracket can be net molded thickly at the similar weight, including more thicker support areas close to the holes with rounded edges. The flexibility of the design ensures that a simple shape can be altered to make a lighter weight part which is molded directly. On the other hand, metals typically need intricate machining and in such cases continuous fiber composites would prove quite difficult to fill into intricate shapes. Moreover, injection molding compounds cannot deliver the same performance as they do not exhibit the mechanical properties.

Metal vs Composites

Titanium and steel are known to have a higher tensile strength. However, bulk molding compounds tend to surpass these metals in terms of specific strength, which accounts for stiffness and density and helps in developing robust components at a fraction of the metal weight.

Compression molded aircraft access doors

Compression molded aircraft access doors with lightning strike outer surface

Typical Advantages of Compression Molded Composites

  • Dimensionally stable
  • Substitute multiple simple parts into one intricate part
  • Non-corrosive benefits (chemical resistance, galvanic protection)
  • Higher performance, lighter weight, and lower cost than other metal parts
  • Lower part labor content

Compression Molded Composites

Applications Where Compression Molded Parts Excel

  • Intricate shapes that limit the use of continuous laminate composites; this results in lengthy process or high expenditure
  • Metal/composite parts that have varying cross-sectional thicknesses or material customizing requirements

TenCate Commercially Available Molding Compounds

Matrix Tg °F (°C) Product Typical Tensile Modulus (Msi)
Name Fiber Modulus
Epoxy 375°F (190°C) MS-4H SM 6
MS-1H IM 10
327°F(164°C) MS-4A SM 9
MS-1A HM 19
MC1100 PPS 194°F (90°C) MC1100 SM or IM TBD
MC1200 PEEK 290°F(143°C) MC1200 SM or IM TBD

SM - Standard Modulus, IM - Intermediate Modulus, HI - High Modulus

Conclusion

In addition, compression molded parts significantly reduces tooling costs and make them a better alternative to metal parts.

TenCate Advanced Composites

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by TenCate Advanced Composites.

For more information on this source, please visit TenCate Advanced Composites.

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