The ever-expanding composites industry continually offers innovations for small manufacturers. Now, a new technology yields more speed than hand layup and a new option for those considering new stamping, compression and injection molding applications.
For low volume, continuous fiber applications, dry fibers are placed in a mold in a process called hand layup. After the fibers are in place, a resin wets the fibers and fills the mold to form the final part. Hand layup offers high performance of carbon fiber and the formability and toughness of the resin for a wide variety of applications.
For high volume applications, the common approach to speed up the hand layup is by a process called preforming. Preforming molds the fibers and resin to near net shape while ensuring that woven fibers remain uniformly oriented. Even with preforming, fiber alignment becomes an issue for complex parts. The IACMI project aims to push the limits of part complexity.
What does all this mean for small manufacturers? This new technology makes high volume manufacturing more profitable by cutting trim waste, speeding up process times and lowering material costs. To a company that is new to composites, it means that a small hand layup project has an upside that is has more profit potential than ever before. Also, the stamp ability of the thermoplastic material makes it is an easier leap for companies that are already stamping parts. To a company that is already making composite parts this could be the technology that creates high yield return for investing in high volume manufacturing.