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A CRTM process that achieves up to 30% costs savings in the manufacture of composite hoods

News International-French

4 Feb 2020

Fagor Arrasate has achieved a cost reduction in the manufacture of composites carbon fiber reinforced polymers (CFRP) for car parts using a Compression Resin Transfer Molding (CRTM) process. The cost decrease is 10-15% compared to HP-RTM and 20-30% for parts manufactured in prepreg with an autoclave process.

A CRTM process that achieves up to 30% costs savings in the manufacture of composite hoods

A CRTM process that achieves up to 30% costs savings in the manufacture of composite hoods

Fagor Arrasate has accomplished a complete characterization (injection phase, compression phase, permeability…) of a CRTM process and materials (resin, fiber and binder) in order to determine and define key parameters, real cycle times and equipment necessary for manufacturing automotive parts in mass production. To test, Fagor applied this technology to an automotive Class A Carbon Hood for Maserati.

The research carried out by Fagor Arrasate shows the cost related to the parts manufactured by CRTM is 10-15% lower when compared to the parts manufactured by HP-RTM and in the same line. At the same time, the parts manufactured by CRTM are 20-30% cheaper than the parts manufactured in prepreg with an autoclave process.

The quest to reduce C02 emission in transportation is highly dependent on lightweighting measures, as novel drivetrains and energy storage methods increase the overall vehicle weight. The massive use of composites with carbon fiber reinforced polymers (CFRP) in cars and commercial vehicles is one of the most appropriate solutions. They can reduce weight by up to 70% and their ability to dissipate impact energy is 5 times greater than that of metals.

One of the most promising alternatives to reduce fill times and increase the fiber content of CFRP is the process called Compression Resin Transfer Molding (CRTM). CRTM process allows to speed up processes and create room for faster chemistry, shorter injection times, shorter reaction time and faster turnaround on the molds. 

During the CRTM process, in contrast to conventional RTM, the mold is partially closed during the injection phase. The vacuum that is generated between the preform and the top of the mold has a very high permeability, which creates a preferential flow path for the resin to cover the entire surface of the workpiece. Once the desired quantity of resin has been injected, the injection ports are shut and the mold starts to close until the final desired thickness is achieved (and therefore the required fiber content).

During the full closing of the mold, the resin is forced to impregnate the preform instead of flowing through the preform in the plane as in RTM which the flow is perpendicular to the thickness. This is the main reason why the impregnation time can be reduced when compared to tens of minutes in a conventional RTM process.

The research project and the characterization achieved allows Fagor Arrasate to incorporate this acquired knowledge into its products and offer its customers the latest advances in composite materials processing.

The results of this development will be showcased during JEC World 2020. Fagor Arrasate stand will be the scene of important announcements, such as the specific layout proposal for the manufacture of SMC battery box covers for electric vehicles.

The redesign of the Fagor Arrasate Hot Drape Forming machine for structural airplane parts will also be showcased, which has productivity improvements and adds the possibility to work with dry fiber.

Lastly, the new features incorporated into the project of the ultra-fast machine for the mass production of individual, customized preforms, based on a part flow approach in combination with the placement of unidirectional tapes (in dry fiber, thermoplastic, prepreg...) by laser-assisted in situ consolidation. This project was granted the JEC Innovation Award during the previous edition of the JEC World. 

Discover Fagor Arrasate at JEC World 2020, in Hall 5, booth Q58.