Beckwood Press, ORNL to work together on composite manufacturing

Beckwood will manufacture a custom hydraulic press for the compression molding of various composite materials.

Beckwood Press Co. (St. Louis, MO, US) will manufacture a custom hydraulic press for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL, Knoxville, TN). The research and development efforts made on the press will ultimately contribute to automotive and aerospace industry lightweighting efforts. Scheduled for completion in September 2015, the 100-ton custom press will feature a 36”x36” work area and integrated multiple zone heated platens for precision temperature control.

In addition to the custom hydraulic press, ORNL will install a Triform Model 16-5BD Fluid Cell sheet hydroforming system (also manufactured by Beckwood), which features 5000 PSI of maximum forming pressure and a 16” diameter forming area. The Triform 16-5BD allows for the formation of complex geometries with the use of a pressurized diaphragm, which can be programmed to apply a range of forming pressures to accommodate the various materials being formed. The inherent flexibility of the Triform process – which includes the ability to dwell, or maintain pressure on the part for extended periods of time – along with the ability to use inexpensive tooling (including 3D printed tooling), will enhance ORNL’s ability to conduct critical material and manufacturing-process research, per their project objectives.

“It is our goal to make this lab the intersection of our 3D printing capabilities and composites processing,” said Jesse Smith, manager of industrial partnerships & economic development science & technology partnerships at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

The Beckwood machines will be used at ORNL by the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI). Led by the University of Tennessee and headquartered in Knoxville, the IACMI’s main goal is to develop new low-cost, high-speed, and efficient manufacturing and recycling process technologies that will promote widespread use of advanced fiber-reinforced polymer composites.