Automotive Lightweight Composites: Focus on the Fast RTM platform

Due to the implementation of increasingly stringent emission standards, automakers rely on lightweight strategies. Undoubtedly, composite materials represent a real solution to reduce vehicle weight. However, to fit with automotive market objectives regarding costs and productivity rates, an important step of industrialization is necessary.

Chalon sur Saône (July, 12nd 2016)

fast RTM composites press system pinette peiThe “Fast RTM” project aims to meet industrials’ expectations by developing the tools and processes required for composites to earn their way into the automotive industry. To do so, the Fast RTM technology platform - results of the eponym project – that is located at the Composite Park of Saint Avold in France is operational since April 2016.

The Fast RTM technology platform

With a €2.5M investment, it consists of a production line fully equipped, allowing to obtain all  industrial developments needed to drive structural composite materials towards industrialization. To reach automotive productivity rates there are still many scientific and technological challenges to face: fast reaction chemicals, net-shape solutions and thermal-heating of tools… The C-RTM process (Compression – Resin Transfer Molding) developed and analysed on the platform is already showing strong improvements regarding cycle times.

Manufacturing Equipment:

fast rtm composites manufacturing system technical data pinette peiECS Short Stroke Press (Eco Compact Sustainable)

  • Working force: 1500 T
  • Opening and Closing speed : 800 mm/s
  • Platen sizes : 2 m x 1,5 m

RTM equipment and tools

  • Innovative adaptable mold (net-shape finished parts, heating and cooling (thermal) optimization)
  • Optimized thermoregulation system (TPC technology: Tubes Powered by Current)
  • HP injection machine for TS and TP (30-250 cc/min)

Automation

  • Control center
  • 6 axis robots (x2)- Payload capacity of 700 kg
  • Gripper modules (for preforms and composite parts)

Monitoring process: data acquisition, record and post-treatment

  • Central data acquisition and Archiving of process features
  • In-line inspection/control (preform and part)
  • Measure of energy consumptions

About the Fast FORM program:

Beyond the Fast RTM project, the Fast Form program is looking to develop new means and equipment to manufacture composite large sized structural parts. The original intent of this project is to be able to produce dried preforms to feed – RTM - injection processes within the same productivity rate (2 minutes cycle time) and costs. To do so, the project will rely on a multi-process preforming platform: a techno-economic solution for a given specification while optimizing material engagement.

Set up in March 2016 for 5 years, the Fast Form program is a project of the IRT M2P technological institute, supported by the investment program “Programme des Investissements d’Avenir”. The consortium is composed of 14 partners including the French major industrial players of the automotive industry (PSA, RENAULT, FAURECIA & HUTCHINSON) and industrial companies of the composites sector (ARKEMA, CHOMARAT, COMPOSE, CORIOLIS, ESI, HEXION, PINETTE P.E.I, Institut de Soudure - IS, OCV and SISE). With a €8.5M budget, this project will result in a €4.5M platform and the HR side, (the equivalent of 10 full-time jobs) will be ensured by a mix between the IRT M2P teams and available employees of industrial companies.

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