Drastically reduced cycle times and processes ready for large-scale production, developing new technologies and applications for the fibre-reinforced lightweight construction of tomorrow is front and centre at the Composite Centre of the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) in the United Kingdom.
The institute is expanding its expertise especially in the field of highly reactive and fast-reacting resin and hardener systems using the new KraussMaffei RimStar Compact for the HP-RTM process (high pressure resin transfer moulding).
Unique research landscape
The new KraussMaffei RimStar Compact at the AMRC ranks among the world’s largest, most state-of-the-art and flexible of its kind for the HP-RTM process. “The specific selection of two dosing units and the corresponding mixing heads allows for a particularly precise mixing of the resin system. This makes the system the first of its kind in which multiple mixing heads are used in the full scope of functions in order to enable a perfect cavity fill. Even materials that are highly reactive and fast-reacting at the same time—which are increasingly in demand for the HP-RTM process—can be reliably processed,” explains Sebastian Schmidhuber, Head of Development for Reaction Process Machinery at KraussMaffei.
Processing such highly reactive matrix materials opens up entirely new development opportunities for composite materials and components with more intricate geometric structures. “The curing times are critical here. Using highly reactive systems, they can be reduced down to three minutes. With such short times, they offer great opportunities for the manufacturing industry,” adds Darren Wells, Research Engineer at AMRC.
Another advantage of KraussMaffei’s new RimStar Compact, from both a process technology and cost-effectiveness standpoint, is its compact design. Matrix material injection and curing take place in one and the same mould. This results in a consistently high quality of the components and in high process reproducibility.
High flexibility proves its value
Above all, Darren Wells appreciates the great flexibility of the KraussMaffei RimStar Compact. “Thanks to its modular design, we are able to quickly and individually meet our customers’ specific needs. In this way, we provide them with a unique research and development landscape to test and verify the cycle time and cost savings advantages of the HP-RTM process live.”
Stephen Lambert, RPM Business Manager at the KraussMaffei Group UK, also sees great opportunities for the HP-RTM process in the UK. “We are looking forward to further future collaboration and development projects at the AMRC. Particularly in the area of vehicle manufacturing and aviation, we see great potential. As an outcome of the collaboration, we have recently received the first series production order of a premium British automaker.”