Composites Evolution develops hybrid tooling prepregs

The company has developed a new tooling prepreg system based on a hybrid combination of carbon fiber and flax reinforcements.

Composites Evolution Ltd. (Chesterfield, UK), in collaboration with with molders KS Composites (Melton Mowbray, UK), has developed a new tooling prepreg system based on a hybrid combination of carbon fiber and flax reinforcements aimed at reducing the cost of carbon fiber mold tools.

In the new hybrid tooling system, several of the carbon bulking plies are replaced with flax. It is possible to do this because the thermal expansion properties of flax fibers are sufficiently similar to those of carbon. According to Composites Evolution, the result is a hybrid carbon-flax tool in which the material costs are reduced by up to 15% in comparison to an all-carbon fiber tool. Secondary benefits include a reduction in tool weight of up to 15% and a reduced environmental impact due to the use of sustainable flax.

In trials performed by KS Composites, the hybrid carbon-flax tooling material has successfully completed over 400 thermal cycles. A mold tool manufactured from the system is now used in routine production.