EconCore (Leuven, Belgium) is emphasizing its patented ThermHex technology for continuous production of thermoplastic honeycomb sandwich materials. The ThermHex process consists of integrated steps of vacuum forming extruded film to a pattern, mechanical folding to honeycomb core structure, and lamination of skin material to the core. The ThermHex process is able to accommodate a wide range of thermoplastics to produce honeycomb core. PP is the most widely used, but PET, PA, PC, PLA, PPS, PVC, PMMA and others are also possible. Versatility regarding skin materials is equally broad, including thermoplastics, thermoplastic composites of glass fiber, carbon fiber, natural fiber, thermoset composites, steel, aluminum, wood, and more. ThermHex is used to produce sandwich materials for applications ranging from reusable packaging, automotive, transportation, building and construction, marine, graphical displays and others. EconCore will showcase a number of sandwich materials produced today by its licensees. EconCore will also stress the ability to integrate finishing steps such as decorative or UV protection layers. Post-processing operations such as thermoforming can also be integrated in production process for final part. One example highlighted by EconCore is an interior door panel (see photo) made using ThermHex process converting pellets to film, film to core, and in-line laminating of natural fiber skins to make sandwich panel. Decorative textile layer and thermoforming to final part shape may be integrated on commercial scale.
Editor PickComposites in the Martian suit
When humans do finally travel to Mars, they will have to be well protected from a less-than-hospitable environment. The suit designed to do the job is already in development at NASA, and it relies heavily on composites.