Radio Frequency Co. Inc. (Millis, Mass.) has developed the Macrowave SMC Preheater, a new preheating system for sheet molding compound (SMC) that uses radio-frequency heating technology to enhance the distribution of reinforcement fibers in the molding process. The result, says the company, is improved quality and strength in the part and a 50 percent press/cure time reduction. The system is said to provide uniform heating instantly, throughout the thickness of the SMC, avoiding the temperature differential that results when heat must travel by conduction from the surface of the SMC load to its center. Capable of preheating SMC loads up to 30 inches/762 mm wide by 84 inches/2,134 mm long in less than one minute, the preheater’s programmable logic controller manages the heat cycle time, power level and conveyor movement to synchronize with press operation. Pricing starts at $95,000, depending on the belt size and other customer requirements.
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The exhibit floor in Paris reflected composites’ move toward high-rate and high-volume production.