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R&D mould delivered to BASF

News International-French

18 Sep 2013

Bright Composites has just delivered an inventive research and development mould to BASF Advanced Materials & Systems Research. It can be used for pre-production testing of infusion resin systems, core materials and coatings.

The test mould has both the aero-contour and chord length of a typical pressure side, mid-span shell section belonging to a 40 meter blade. It is equipped with heating and pressure systems, allowing BASF to test the production readiness of new resins, adhesives, and core materials to the highest standards. The company leads innovation in the field of materials for wind turbine manufacturing. It supports blade manufacturers by supplying state-of-the-art epoxy resins and various adhesive systems for highly resilient, fibre-reinforced components. BASF also delivers specialised coating materials for rotor blades and PET core materials. BASF’s commitment to materials research is an important driver of wind energy development and proliferation.

Bridging the gap
Bright Composites’ R&D Lab Manager Sebastiaan Lindstedt worked closely with BASF to develop the epoxy/glass test mould. The mould has temperature sensors and three heating fields, situated at the leading and trailing edges and the spar cap. The heating and pressure systems can infuse and cure resin systems up to 120 °C. The R&D mould bridges the gap from lab testing to serial production, as its overall surface area is four times that of most lab-scale testing devices, while its aero-shape and chord-length are equal to a mid-span section of a 40 meter blade. That makes it possible to have a much better view of how a new material and material combinations behave in a production process.

Economic sense
Investing in a full-width, aero contoured R&D test mould makes good economic sense too, as testing new materials and material combinations in a full-size mould is more time consuming and expensive. An added benefit for material suppliers is that they can support blade manufacturers at an early stage with realistic processing trials if production moulds are not available for testing purposes. That eradicates unnecessary waiting time from the development process, shortening the time to market. Moreover, prototypes for demonstrating new technologies and complex shaped samples for mechanical testing can be manufactured. The typical life-span of a test mould is ten years, giving plenty of opportunity to earn back the investment. It is a natural house-specialty of Bright Composites to develop R&D moulds for material suppliers, explains Sebastiaan Lindstedt.