Surface Generation provides a liquid injection molding test rig to research university

ETH Zurich's Centre of Structure Technology will investigate rapid carbon composites processing for automotive parts.

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9 January 2013: Surface Generation Ltd. (Oakham, Rutland, U.K.), a provider of composites processing technologies, announced on January 9 that it has provided the Centre of Structure Technology (IMES-ST) at ETH Zurich, a science and technology university in Zurich, Switzerland, with a highly sophisticated test environment for liquid composite injection molding.

Surface Generation’s custom-built test rig is the first to precisely mirror production line processes while enabling researchers to visually observe resin flow in real-time. IMES-ST and its multi-national research sponsors can watch the injection stage of textiles at much higher temperatures and pressures than previously possible. Surface Generation's localized thermal management and intelligent molding technologies allow resin flow to be directed as required and ensures accurate experimental conditions by eliminating temperature errors and reducing rig deflection. It enables more accurate flow models to be developed and validated, enhancing the predictability of future composite processing solutions.

Ben Halford, chief executive at Surface Generation, comments “The test rig we’ve built for ETH Zurich is a significant advancement for the carbon composite research community. The University will be able to quickly and precisely validate complex resin flow scenarios, accelerating development and improving the efficiency of production processes. It’s a vital step towards enabling true mass production of carbon composite parts.”

Dr Florian Klunker, with Composite Materials and Adaptive Structures at ETH Zurich, adds
“Liquid composite molding injection processes with intelligent temperature management allow carbon fiber structures to be created more quickly and at lower cost than conventional techniques. They are of significant interest to high volume automotive manufacturers, which want to use carbon composite parts in their next generation of mass-production vehicles. Accurate testing is vital to ensure parts are created right the first time and without defect.”

Surface Generation’s innovative test rig uses its patented Production to Functional Specifications (PtFS) process, encompassing a range of active thermal management technologies, to control and vary temperatures to the precise requirements of each mold area and process stage. The unique process removes the need for large capital equipment, improves work flow and enables production of larger and more complex designs.