Roctool equipment installed at ORNL

Roctool’s large double-zone mold heating and cooling unit will be used at the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility to develop manufacturing processes for a variety of composite materials.

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Roctool Inc. (Charlotte, NC, US; Le Bourget du Lac, France), a developer of mold heating and cooling technologies, reports it has installed its leading-edge molding technology at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Oak Ridge, TN, US. Roctool’s large double-zone generator and its latest performance cooling unit were installed at the US Department of Energy’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility (MDF) at ORNL for early-stage research and development (R&D) applications in automotive, aerospace, aircraft, military, energy-related and consumer goods.

The equipment is available to industrial collaborators through ORNL and IACMI R&D programs focused on the processing of new composites (commingled, nonwoven), renewable composites such as bio-derived fiber and self-reinforced PP (SRPP), and high- performance composites (high-temperature for the aerospace market).

Along with the equipment installation, Roctool has developed a special preliminary mold for compression molding programs. The highly detailed mold – which will be installed later this year – incorporates numerous design features for a range of composite products. A new mold is under construction for more advanced manufacturing trials. Customers can also build their own Roctool mold for specific application needs.

The DZ 150KW induction generator has two zones each with 150 kW. It is an ultracompact model dedicated to Roctool processing; its design reportedly saves valuable floor space and simplifies inline integration. A remote control unit permits control of the heating cycles via feedback to the microcontroller. The RPC C24 micro cooling unit effectively purges the system and then uses water to cool the mold.

“The installation at ORNL will afford leading OEMs better access to Roctool technology, enabling them to test and evaluate the benefits for composite molding programs,” says Steve Verschaeve, Roctool’s vice president of North American business development.

“We are excited to add Roctool’s heating and cooling mold technology to our research capabilities in additive and composites manufacturing at the MDF where both ORNL and IACMI led projects can utilize the latest in compression molding technology for lightweight composites,” says Bill Peter, ORNL director of the MDF.

“Roctool’s innovative molding technologies will accelerate the overall impact of our programs and expand composite processing capabilities for our industrial partners and the growing workforce,” says Uday Vaidya, governor’s chair in Advanced Composites Manufacturing for ORNL and the University of Tennessee and the chief technology officer for IACMI-The Composites Institute.

Roctool envisions working with customers like ORNL and IACMI on pre-series development projects.

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