IACMI launches new project to optimize resins and sizings for vinyl ester/carbon fiber

The project will develop vinyl ester resin/fiber sizing/carbon fiber combinations that are styrene-free and that have room temperature storage capability of at least three months and cure times less than three minutes.

Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI, Knoxville, Tenn.) is launching a new project focused on the optimization of vinyl ester resins and fiber sizings for the fabrication of carbon fiber composites. The effort will identify styrene-free prepreg formulations with longer room temperature shelf life, shorter cycle times and reduced cost. Advancements in these areas will increase productivity, decrease scrap and material costs and enable adoption into the automotive industry.

During this technical collaboration, researchers at Michigan State University (MSU) and University of Dayton Research Institute (UDRI) will identify cost-effective combinations of resins from Ashland Performance Materials (Dublin, Ohio), sizings from Michelman Cincinnati, Ohio), and carbon fibers from Zoltek (St. Louis, Mo.) that can be used to fabricate prepregs that can be compression-molded into composite parts. The project will develop vinyl ester resin/fiber sizing/carbon fiber combinations that are styrene-free and that have room temperature storage capability of at least three months and cure times less than three minutes. "We have assembled a project team that brings together the resin expertise, sizing expertise, and fiber expertise needed to develop an optimized system," says Joe Fox, director of emerging & external technologies at Ashland. "We will be leveraging the resources and talent at UDRI and MSU."

The success of this IACMI project could help catalyze the adoption of carbon fiber and vinyl ester composites into automotive applications by producing a more cost-effective technology with lower material costs, a more productive technology with reduced cure time and reduced scrap, and a safer technology with the elimination of styrene.