Machinery manufacturer Dieffenbacher (Eppingen, Germany) reported on Feb. 6 that it is continuing its working relationship with the Fraunhofer Project Center (FPC, London, Ontario, Canada) with the installation of a Dieffenbacher Preform Center to expand the center's range of applications to include those involving carbon fiber composites.
Research at the FPC is focused on composites use in lightweight construction. The FPC works in close collaboration with both Western University and the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology (ICT), and is operated as an independent institute that undertakes applied research into materials development and the processing of fiber-composite materials for North American industrial companies. The objective of the center is to develop materials for new applications in accordance with the specific needs of the North American market.
The existing Dieffenbacher plants in North America have used sheet molding compound (SMC) and long fiber-reinforced thermoplastics (LFT) to enable the development and production of semi-structural components. The addition of the Preform Center, which is currently under construction, is set to expand the range of applications now offered by the FPC to include processes related to high-pressure resin transfer molding (HP-RTM).
Preform technology forms part of the HP-RTM process, which is primarily used to produce components using carbon fiber-reinforced plastics (CFRP). Previously, CFRP preforms could only be produced by hand via a cost-intensive process. At the Preform Center, production will be fully automatic — a move that will ensure the institute continue to implement the systematic strategy of introducing series production processes.
This technology is planned to be commissioned at the end of March, after which companies will use the research center to further develop and test the use of CFRP during the production stage. The expansion of the HP-RTM process is based on an increasing need for procedures in the production of structural components.