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Zoltek Automotive and partners introduce Surface RTM

News International-French

12 Nov 2013

This strategic cooperation demonstrated ‘real-time’ production of carbon fiber automotive body panels paintable direct from the mold.

Krauss Maffei demonstrated, in real-time, the “Surface RTM” manufacturing process, by producing carbon fiber roof panels for the new Roding sports car 5 times per day on 2013 K show.

The “Surface RTM” process uses Panex 35 carbon fiber and a polyurethane resin system. This is then overmoulded with a polyurethane paint coating, resulting in a premium and paintable surface quality composite part - directly out of the mold. This new production process attracted a lot of attention from OEMs and Tier 1s.

This new “Surface RTM” process is the result of a year-long, industry partnership – bringing together key players in the industry. It utilizes the very latest Krauss Maffei RTM technology, Henkel PU chemistry, Chomarat C-Ply fabrics, Ruhl PU coatings and Zoltek’s specially sized Panex 35 50K carbon fiber.

The development of Chomarat’s C-Ply fabrics using Zoltek’s low-cost, large-tow carbon fiber is also a significant step forward in cost reduction and will set a new industry standard for price points and quality carbon fiber panels.

Process overview
The new process begins with a carbon fiber fabric matrix produced by Chomarat, which is injected with a PU resin (Henkel Loctite Max 2). Once cured, the mould is opened slightly to allow the PU overmoulding material to be injected (Ruhl). The part is then cured again. (Total time from ‘tool closure’ to ‘tool open’ is less than 6 minutes). The part is then removed from the tool, power washed and supplied to the painter – who applies a top and clear coat.
”Surface RTM” eliminates the out-of-date ‘primer and sand’ process to hide ‘print through’, significantly reducing final part costs.
Additional process development is underway by Zoltek Automotive and industry partners to continue lowering process times and cost.

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