Surface Generation and the NCC together have successfully produced a number of carbon-reinforced/PA6 automotive demonstrators, which are due to be assessed by an automotive OEM. Each manufactured component weighs 1.2kg and comprises four continuous carbon fibre-reinforced/PA6 composite inserts overmoulded with short carbon fibre PA6.
The success of this collaboration is a testament to the combination of Surface Generation’s PtFS technology and the performance of the NCC’s Engel Duo 1700T injection overmoulding capability.
Sean Cooper, principal research engineer for High Volume Manufacturing at the NCC said: “PtFS technology provides a variety of benefits for injection moulding. The ability to keep the average tool temperature higher than usual during the injection phase of the process can reduce the clamping force and injection pressures required for mould filling. The zonal temperature control is exploited to ensure an optimum joint is achieved between the inserts and the overmoulding material. Enhanced thermal control also facilitates manufacturing for variable thickness injection mouldings.
“I am very pleased that the first commercial research activity in composites overmoulding performed here at the NCC, has been supporting Surface Generation in demonstrating the value of their tooling technology. Our work with Surface Generation is exactly what the NCC was set-up to achieve – providing the technology, the technical skills and the innovation environment companies need to accelerate their composites R&D.”
Alasdair Ryder, special projects engineer at Surface Generation stated: “The NCC’s equipment capability and the proactive support from the High Volume Manufacturing (HVM) team have contributed towards a successful manufacturing campaign. We look forward to returning in 2019 for the manufacture of opposite handed parts as we demonstrate further improvements to our process capability and stability.”
The NCC’s overmoulding equipment and the related facility cost was funded by the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) and West of England Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). The NCC overmoulding cell supplied by Engel features a horizontal 1,700 tonne press, injection barrel temperatures/pressures up to 420°C and 2,000bar with a shot volume up to 6,400cm3. In addition to the acquisition of the overmoulding cell, the NCC have also invested £690k of its High Value Manufacturing Catapult (HVM Catapult) funding into a capability development project to further apply fundamental research across design, simulation, structural-analysis, manufacturing and physical/mechanical testing of high performance overmoulded structures.