Globe Machine Manufacturing Co. (Tacoma, Wash., USA) reports that it has recently trialed a second-generation RapidClave out-of-autoclave system (OOA) and has achieved sub-8-minute (button-to-button) cycle times on epoxy/carbon fiber prepreg (unidirectional laminates, six to eight plies thick, laid up 0°/90°).
This is less than half the 17-minute cycle time that Plasan Carbon Composites (Wixom, Mich., USA) has previously reported achieving on generation-one technology used to produce multiple Class A body panels for the Corvette Stingray sports car for General Motors Co. (Detroit, Mich.).
According to Calvin D. Bamford, Jr., Globe chairman/owner, "During our trials, we molded at 6-, 7-, and 8-minute cycles and achieved high-quality composite parts that were fully cured and had less than 2 percent void content."
Samples cut from plaques molded at the trial are currently out for testing with results expected back before year's end. Gary Lownsdale, president, Trans Tech International, who is working for Globe, adds, "The biggest difference between the first- and second-generation systems is that the new technology uses water and hot-air impingement instead of oil to heat the work piece. This gives us faster heat transfer and tighter process control, so now we can work with the full range of epoxy resins, including snap-cure systems." The second-generation technology reportedly can use either nitrogen or air, so will be appropriate for both aerospace and automotive industries, and is available for commercial purchase.