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Hail the new composite innovations at JEC Europe
Source:    Author:By Victor Cheng    Date:24.Mar.2014

During JEC Europe 2014, a full spectrum of processes, new materials and composite solutions were showcased, with particular highlights on applications of automotive, aerospace, and building & construction. Meanwhile, the exhibition’s conference focused on two hot industry growth markets: offshore energies and hybrid structures.

The choice of exhibits and the conference’s focus were actually offering a perspective on the market developments. Thus, many of the latest innovative solutions on show followed the same trend.

Arkema: Elium resins deigned for recyclable and easy to thermoform lightweight parts

At the JEC Europe this year, leading French chemicals producer Arkema displayed its Elium technology, which won an award in 2013 at JEC and is being used in 2014. Elium resins polymerize quickly and composite parts made from them are 30-50% lighter than the same parts made from steel, but offer the same resistance. They can be molded into complex design forms and perfectly blends with glass or carbon fibers.

Unlike unsaturated polyesters, Elium resins do not contain styrene. And because of their thermoplastic properties, they can be used to design composite parts that are easily thermoformed and recyclable with comparable mechanical performance to epoxy parts.

In addition, Elium technology reduces the cost of long staple thermoplastic composite parts. According to the company, three compelling factors contribute to its cost-effective advantage: the resins are easy to use in conventional thermoset resin processes, it transforms at room temperature and it does not contain any fabricated products like organo-sheets.

BASF: Carbon fiber in combination with PU matrix for the first time in vehicle production

BASF participated in the exhibition with latest composite applications. In automotive lightweight construction, the company presented the BMW i3 self-supporting rear seat pan manufactured from carbon fibers and a PU matrix. According to the company, such combination was used in vehicle production for the first time.

It was produced using the Elastolit PU system from BASF by the automotive supplier F.S. Fehrer Automotive, for which the company was honored with one of the SPE awards in the “body interior” category in 2013. The component integrates a variety of functions such as a cup holder mount and storage shelf, eliminating assembly operations and saving weight. The special properties of the material allow the crash-relevant part to fulfill the strict safety requirements of BMW despite its wall thickness of only 1.4mm.

Exhibiting a kayak with a length of over 2.6m, BASF, together with the Germany-based industrial designer Jan Haluszka, demonstrated what is said to be one of the largest parts produced to date from reactive polyamide (PA) by means of vacuum infusion technique (VARI). Using a vacuum of 0.9 bar, it was possible to fill the part with the low-viscosity two-component system in only 60s.

Meanwhile, BASF also presented two new materials that can be used in processes for manufacturing components used in wind-based power generation. Root segments for rotor blades can be manufactured through use of filament winding technology with Baxxodur System 6100, a new epoxy system exhibiting good impregnation characteristics and has an open time that permits production of larger parts.

To securely attach the root of the rotor blade to the hub of the wind turbine, a fiber-reinforced component made from Elastocoat C6226-100 PU resin by means of pultrusion can be used. As said, pultrusion allows better alignment of the fibers as well as in-line incorporation of a threaded metal bushing, thus ensuring consistently high production quality and an extremely stable part.

Chomarat: C-Ply designed to optimize fiber performance

At Chomarat’s booth, visitors saw a ? scale version of the VX-1 KittyHawk aircraft. The aircraft, designed by VX Aerospace, has a unique shape that is structurally efficient thanks to C-Ply, Chomarat’s advanced composite reinforcement material.

The KittyHawk stands out as it has no wings, the fuselage and wings are combined into one shape called a “lifting body” or “blended wing” aircraft. C-Ply, prepregged with Cytec Industries’ resin system MTM 45-1 to create a low density, high damage tolerant prepreg material, is durable to handle during lay-up, drapable to accommodate the compound curvatures, and can be manufactured to fully optimize the design relative to fiber angles and ply weights.

Bob Skillen, VX Aerospace’s CEO, comments that C-Ply is the first true advance in carbon fabrics and is designed to optimize fiber performance. Chomarat capitalized on the low-angle, thin ply, non-crimp laminate concept, and the result is a fabric that allows for cost effective production of open mold parts with the same (or better) performance characteristics of ATP parts.

Dow: 90 second RTM solution for composite parts

Dow Automotive Systems launched its latest epoxy resin matrix system, Voraforce 5300, for High Pressure Resin Transfer Molding (HP-RTM) at JEC Europe. It enables mass production of structural composite parts with cycle times under 90s.

The formulation enables ultra-fast infusion and curing, while its super low viscosity also increases part consolidation potential in structural automotive composite production. With this new system, the demand of automotive OEMs to achieve affordable light weight manufacture of true high volume part production can be met.

The solution coincides with the recently announced Dow adhesive bonding solution for full structural carbon fiber parts, as demonstrated in the safety cell of the BMW i3.

Henkel: Boosting wind power and automotive lightweight construction

Henkel presented a completely new adhesive technology for the manufacture of rotor blades as used on wind generators. The polyurethane (PU) adhesives, developed by Henkel and marketed under the Loctite brand, significantly reduce manufacturing time.

The ability of the adhesives to cure quickly and, in the main, without external heating, offers a number of advantages over the previously established epoxy resin processes, not least of which is the fact that the energy requirement is reduced.

Besides, the company also showcased the Roding Roadster R1 sports car which has a light and exceptionally strong roof module. As introduced, the module has been manufactured by a process developed for the manufacture of glass or carbon fiber reinforced components using the HP-RTM.

The process, developed by Henkel and KraussMaffei, addresses the issue of the need for reworking the surface prior to painting when using composite components for the outer shell of vehicles. A surface of sufficiently high quality has become possible thanks to the Loctite MAX 3, a new three-component polyurethane-based matrix resin system that contains not only the resin and hardener but also a high-performance internal release agent, which ensures the easy removal of the component from its mold.

Huntsman: Latest Araldite systems and methacrylate adhesive

During the exhibition, Huntsman Advanced Materials highlighted its latest innovative composites concepts with demonstrations of the latest Araldite systems for automotive parts and aerostructure interiors production, and the new methacrylate adhesive Araldite 2048.

At the booth, resin systems for HP-RTM that produce high levels of targeted performance on vehicle wheel rims were showcased. The company’s technical expert also gave a presentation on topic “Fast and cost efficient solutions for automotive mass production”.

According to Huntsman, including preform set, injection, curing and demolding, its latest Araldite LY 3585/Aradur 3475 allow parts production in five and three minutes respectively in HP-RTM and compression molding, exhibiting a one minute latency at 110°C, equating to a 30% time saving when compared with first generation HP-RTM.

Another focus of Huntsman was the new unfilled Araldite FST 40002/40003, an entirely new, high performance RTM and infusion processing solution for interior aerostructures, which uniquely combines inherent FST properties with high quality, user-friendly composites processing methods.
In undergoing a polyaddition reaction without gas release, this Araldite system delivers significant weight reduction, improved composites quality as well as a cleaner and healthier manufacturing solution, supporting closed mold processes and VOC emissions-free system exposure.

Meanwhile, Araldite 2048 has been used alongside the epoxy adhesive Araldite 2031 on the rear spoiler of a prototype sports car which was on display. Exhibiting some of the highest lap shear strengths available (24 MPa on aluminum) and high elongation, Huntsman says the new methacrylate adhesive is ideal for dynamic loading, offers good chemical resistance, low ionic content, and extremely high impact resistance and elasticity at subfreezing temperatures.

Nidaplast: New sandwich panel finishing service for construction applications

Nidaplast from France launched its parts finishing service for designers and architects with its Nidaskin line, mainly targeting construction applications, including indoor/outdoor architecture.

Nidaskin is a weight-reducing and material-saving solution. The sandwich panels with finished edges consist of a polypropylene (PP) honeycomb core and a choice of five different skins: medium-density fibreboard (MDF), high-pressure laminate (HPL), polyester, aluminum and MDF+HPL.

The company has been proposing nidaplast 8 FR, a fire retardant material that slows down flame propagation. Its use enables the finished sandwich panel to keep the same mechanical properties as nidaplast 8, and therefore allows the use of very thin skins. Furthermore, if the skin is classified M1, the entire sandwich panel will also be classified M1.

Latest software for composite industry

CGTech: New NC programming features for automated composite machinery

At the exhibition, the US based CGTech showcased the latest version of VERICUT software. It is Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machine simulation, verification and optimization software that enables users to eliminate the process of manually proving-out NC programs.

The VERICUT Composite Applications: VERICUT Composite Paths for Engineering (VCPe), VERICUT Composite Programming (VCP) and VERICUT Composite Simulation (VCS) were demonstrated.

VCPe gives the user the ability to measure and evaluate the effects of Automated Fiber Placement (AFP) and Automated Tape Laying (ATL) path trajectory, material steering, surface curvature, course convergence and other process constraints. VCP reads CATIA V5, STEP, or ACIS surface models. It also reads Fibersim, CATIA V5 or other external ply geometry and information. It then adds material to fill the plies according to user-specified manufacturing standards and requirements.

Meanwhile, VCS reads CAD models and NC programs, either from VCP or other composite layup path-generation applications, and simulates the sequence of NC programs on a virtual machine.

JETCAM: Award winning nesting and management software

JETCAM International s.a.r.l. showcased the latest versions of composite nesting and management software JETCAM Expert and CrossTrack, along with its concept ply unloading and sorting robot. Visitors were able to see a complete walkthrough of the software/hardware combination - from the tracking of material upon delivery through to physically unloading and stacking plies, ready for lay-up.

CrossTrack, the Composite UK Trade Associations “Innovation in Manufacture” award winner in 2013, tracks materials, material life, plies, kits, orders and nests - all in real time. It provides a common interface for all operations from material delivery to lay-up.

Meanwhile, the JETCAM Expert CADCAM and nesting system provides the nesting engine and NC code output for composite cutting machines. Orders are received from CrossTrack for automatic processing, and associated geometry files are located, profiling information applied, plies are nested and NC code is generated – all without human intervention. This information is passed back to CrossTrack and logged, providing end-to-end traceability of material, plies and finished parts.



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