The Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI), in partnership with Michelman and other key IACMI consortium members, has announced a project focused on the optimization of vinyl ester resins and fiber sizings for the fabrication of carbon fiber composites.
The effort will identify styrene-free prepreg formulations with longer room temperature shelf life, shorter cycle times, and reduced cost. Advancements in these areas will increase productivity, decrease scrap and material costs, and enable adoption into the automotive industry.
The IACMI is a Manufacturing USA institute driven by the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and the U.S. Department of Energy. The team on this key project includes Michelman, Ashland, Zoltek, University of Dayton Research Institute (UDRI), JobsOhio, and Michigan State University (MSU).
As part of this technical collaboration, researchers at MSU and UDRI will identify cost-effective combinations of fiber sizings from Michelman, resins from Ashland, and carbon fibers from Zoltek that can be used to fabricate prepregs that can be compression-molded into composite parts. The goal is to develop vinyl ester resin / fiber sizing / carbon fiber combinations that are styrene-free and that have room temperature storage capability of at least three months and cure times less than three minutes.
The success of this IACMI project will help catalyze the adoption of carbon fiber and vinyl ester composites into automotive applications by producing a more cost- effective technology with lower material costs, a more productive technology with reduced cure time and reduced scrap, and a safer technology with the elimination of styrene. These technology innovations should prove to be an attractive value proposition for the multibillion dollar automotive industry and help it to meet its targets for lightweighting of vehicles.
Michelman manufactures a versatile line of fiber sizings and resin modifiers that are used by fiber producers and composite manufacturers to produce stronger, lighter and more durable composite parts. The company’s broad portfolio of products allows customers to tailor the surface chemistry of reinforcement fibers to the chemistry of the matrix resin, thereby optimizing the interface adhesion between the polymers and fibers.