Pinette Emidecau reveals details of high-speed RTM cell

Compression molding specialist Pinette Emidecau, working with German research group DLR, has developed an automated resin transfer molding (RTM) cell designed to maximize throughput and improve process consistency.

Pinette Emidecau Inc. (Troy, Mich., USA) reports that it has developed an automated, high-speed resin transfer molding (RTM) cell for aerospace and automotive manufacturing applications that is designed to increase molded part throughput and improve process consistency.

The cell consists of four stations:

  • Robotic preform loading into a mold
  • Mold closing and transfer to shuttle system
  • RTM injection
  • Post-injection curing oven

 

The robot is a six-axis, articulating arm type, and removes preforms from a conveyor that enters the cell from the left. Once the preform is placed on the lower half of the mold, the mold is shuttled to the next station, where the top half of the mold (mold supplied by Compose, Bellignat, France) is lowered into place and locked.

Following this, an automated shuttle transfers the entire mold to the RTM press. Here, an ISOJET Équipements (Corbas, France) resin injection system injects the epoxy into the mold. Injection for an aerospace part used to develop and prove the cell, took about 3 minutes, but Pinette Emidecau officials say that an automotive part could, conceivably, be injected in about 45 seconds.

Following injection and initial cure, the shuttle system moves the mold to the post-injection curing oven, where the cure process is completed and the injection station is freed up to receive the next mold. Oven capacity as currently configured is two molds.

Pinette Emidecau says that the two-mold oven, combined with the movement and transfer of molds at other stations, allows for the use of up to four molds in the cell at the same time, thus maximizing manufacturing throughput and making sure that no one station becomes a bottleneck in the cycle.

Phillippe Capon, R&T manager at Pinette Emidecau, says the oven can be modified to accommodate up to three molds loaded vertically, or the oven can be upsized to hold more or larger molds, depending on application and customer requirements. In addition, although the cell is configured for thermosets, Capon says the ISOJET system can be modified to inject thermoplastic resins.

The cell is in operation at, and was developed in cooperation with, Deutsches Zentrum für Luft und Raumfahrt (DLR, Stade, Germany), which is proving the system via the manufacture of a carbon fiber/epoxy aerospace part.

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