As part of a €2.5 million investment program, FORMAX (Leicester, U.K.), a manufacturer of carbon fiber and specialty composite reinforcements, reported on April 25 that it has successfully installed and commissioned its new Karl Mayer Malitronic multiaxial machine.
The new cut and lay machine, with variable width from 1270 to 1600 mm (50 to 63 inches), is housed within the new 5,000m2/53,820-ft2 automotive facility at FORMAX’s U.K. headquarters and will be dedicated to the production of tailored non-crimp fabrics (NCF) specifically optimized for high-volume automotive programs.
Whether it is Class-A body panels, body-in-white structure or impact-resistant long fiber-reinforced parts that are required, the new 35m/115-ft multiaxial machine will allow automotive OEMs and Tier 1s to design a bespoke fabric or preform to fit the structure being built and the manufacturing process being used, thereby ensuring a fast, cost-effective and efficient conversion of carbon fiber into parts.
The machine is equipped with three axes, capable of laying ply angles from 20° through 90° with inline and offline spreading technology, allowing engineers to specify larger, lower cost, carbon fiber tows, with ply weights starting at 50 gsm.
An additional feature of the machine is that it is equipped with electronic pattern cams. This facilitates the creation of fabric-specific stitch patterns, which, combined with FORMAX’s research into simulating drape, gives the company the capability to tailor fabric for specific parts.
Dan Norton, automotive sector manager at FORMAX, says, “FORMAX has recognized the demand being shown within the automotive industry to include carbon composite structures within their multimaterial platforms, and with this machine, and its cutting-edge spreading technology, we are able to increase fiber throughput whilst maintaining and delivering high manufacturing efficiencies. Resin and tooling technology are all advancing at a rapid rate to help deliver the magic 60-second cycle time the automotive industry is pushing for, and we are confident that textile reinforcements can now be added to this list.”
The new machine is in full operation, while the facility will officially open in May.