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Hot-water temperature control solutions for large-scale production of composite components

News International-French

12 Mar 2012

JEC Europe 2012 - Single Temperiertechnik GmbH of Hochdorf/Germany is presenting highly efficient hot-water temperature control systems for temperatures up to 225°C.

Fluid-based temperature control facilitates the large-scale production of composites. Technically superior and more energy-efficient, this method has already become established as an alternative to outdated and insufficient oil and electric heaters, and ovens. This approach offers interesting potential particularly for the aerospace and the automotive industry with an interest in producing components with reproducible properties within minimum cycle times. This requires defined process conditions, which means clearly defined temperatures inside the cavity.

Temperature control of moulds provides composite producers with new potential for process optimisation and sustained energy cost reduction. Thermoset matrix materials cure as they react to heat. This reaction requires a substantial amount of thermal energy and temperatures mostly in excess of 100°C, often even 200°C and higher. Cycle times can last from a few minutes for smaller automotive parts up to many hours, e.g. for wind turbine rotors. Used for mould-specific methods of composite structure production, active mould temperature control boosts process stability and increases production efficiency and speed. Temperature control with heat transfer media is a reliable and cost-efficient solution that has been widely established for many plastics processing methods for decades.

SINGLE caters to producers of composite components which use application-optimised temperature control systems. “Even the high processing temperatures required by the composite industry do not eliminate the use of water as a heat transfer medium. Water provides a significantly higher heat transfer capacity thanks to its high specific heat and heat transfer properties, which are superior to those of oil”, says Kip Petrykowski, Business Development Manger Composites, SINGLE Temperature Controls, Inc., USA. SINGLE water-operated systems have been used successfully above the atmospheric boiling point for many years.

The new hot-water temperature control solutions are particularly beneficial for manufacturers of composite components. At JEC 2012, SINGLE is presenting various temperature control systems with water as a circulating medium, some of which have a wide capacity range for temperatures up to 200°C, as well as compact hot-water temperature control systems for temperatures of up to 225°C. Temperatures of up to 350°C are handled by SINGLE oil-based temperature-control systems.

Benefits of fluid-based temperature control versus autoclave-based or inductive and electric heating
Fluid-based temperature control of moulds has many obvious benefits over the widespread method of curing composite components in heated ovens. Ovens make part handling very complicated, the process is highly time-consuming, the quality of process control is not satisfactory and the cooling phase does not offer any room for active support. Hence, oven-based methods are very expensive.

Fluid-based temperature control is also vastly superior to inductive or electric mould heating methods for composite production as they handle significant temperature variations quickly and smoothly. The need for complex equipment is a major disadvantage of inductive heating, as are the substantial costs and the lack of flexibility for different process configurations. Like electric heating, inductive heating does not allow for sufficient process control. For pro¬cesses that require alternating temperatures, i.e. heating and active cooling, inductive or electrically heated moulds must be equipped with cooling channels for fluid-based temperature control anyway.

Additional benefits of active alternating temperature control
Thermoplastics composite moulding can benefit from active alternating temperature control SINGLE ATT (Alternating Temperature Technology). ATT is recommended for processes that require fast temperature variations within the cycle time. Within seconds, ATT switches between two circuits with cooling fluid of different temperatures and actively heats or cools the mould. This approach ensures that the mould used for composite production is cooled down during the filling phase and heated up during the curing phase. SINGLE offers an extensive system range for alternating temperature control up to 350°C.


More information:

Booth W46