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Richard Mille luxury watch made with carbon fibre uni-directional tape

News International-French

19 Mar 2014

Huntsman Advanced Materials has been supporting Swiss pre-impregnated materials specialist North Thin Ply Technology (NTPT) to produce ultra-thin prepreg components on a Richard Mille luxury watch case.

Founded in 2009, NTPT designs and manufactures ultra-thin prepregs for high performance composites applications. From its main facility in Switzerland, the company’s 25-strong team focuses on the research and development of prototypes and small series production.

The business offers unique spread tow and associated prepregging techniques to manufacture uni-directional prepreg tapes processed with thermoset resins, which can be as thin as a third of a human hair in diameter. To facilitate their handling, the company has also developed an automated tape laying system. NTPT’s technology package is completed with simulation software which enables efficient parts designs, taking advantage of the uniqueness of ThinPregs.

Based on its track record and expertise in formulating specialty components for impregnation systems and its understanding of the specific requirements of ultra-thin prepreg processing, NTPT decided to work with Huntsman on the watch case project.

The watch cases are made from thick blocks of 400 thin ply of ThinPreg carbon fibre uni-directional tape, pre-impregnated with an epoxy resin matrix system based on building blocks (resin, toughener and hardener) selected with Huntsman’s support. Because of the ultra-thin interply thickness, the autoclave cured block can be considered as a one phase material which is machinable (drillable, millable) in the same way as metal.

NTPT selected the Huntsman combination of building blocks for this particular application specifically for their ability to meet the necessary criteria required for manufacturing ultra-thin prepreg tapes, as well as their filament bearing properties and the resulting resistance to delamination and crack propagation, which provides the cured uni-directional tapes with outstanding machinability behaviour.