The bespoke KraussMaffei RimStar Compact is a High-Pressure Resin Transfer Moulding (HP-RTM) system and is being used by the AMRC to support its research into developing novel composite technologies.
The system comes complete with unique dual resin feeds and mixing heads; where the resin and hardeners are mixed at the impingement head - located in a closed, matched mould - under a high-pressure colliding process to be instantaneously injected into the preform.
The multiple heads mean resin flow rate is higher and large, but lightweight net-shape parts can be achieved with the maximum amount of resin input.
Explains AMRC Composite Centre research engineer Darren Wells: “This unique feature of the system allows us to extend the range of highly reactive, but fast acting resins and hardeners we work with; giving us greater flexibility to conduct research with novel or unusual composite materials and produce more complex geometric component structures.
“These highly reactive resins are being used more frequently within HP-RTM techniques and have made it possible for us to bring cure times down to within three minutes. This dramatic reduction opens up the potential for manufacturers to take advantage of huge savings in turnaround times.”
A UK manufactured press with two separate lower platens that allow for both heated and cooled processes complete the system. Their large working envelopes can be adapted for more complex tooling geometries and will open up opportunities for manufacturers where high customisation, but high-volume production is required.
The AMRC Composites Centre now has the capacity for a variety of research collaborations to utilise this cutting edge high-pressure composite facility.
Adds Wells: “There are huge areas for potential growth in using composite technologies for many sectors as HP-RTM is ideal for manufacturing integrated, lightweight structures with extremely fast cycle times.
“The KraussMaffei system provides us with immense machine flexibility thanks to its modular design, allowing us to tailor its configuration to specific customer requirements. This enables a wide range of UK manufacturers the opportunity to exploit the advantages HP-RTM processes have to offer such as improved through-put and cost savings.”