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4th August 2017, Fremont, IN

Carver to supply GMT-type composites

Indiana-based Carver will use its new double-belt laminator to make preconsolidated, continuous nonwovens and precut sheets.Carver Non-Woven Technologies LLC, a supplier of single- and multi-layer/material nonwoven products, will shortly begin commercial production of pre-impregnated, preconsolidated glass-mat thermoplastic (GMT)-type composite products using its nonwoven mat technology.

The company is finishing installation of a new double-belt laminator/press from Sandvik TPS Composite Solutions division of Sandvik AB at its production facilities. The new equipment will begin commercial production in mid-August and will enable Carver to supply preconsolidated continuous roll goods and precut sheets to the half of its customer base using infrared (IR) heaters prior to moulding nonwovens with thermoplastic matrices into three-dimensional (3D) shapes.

Double-belt laminators are widely used to produce prepregs and unidirectional tapes with fiberglass or carbon fibre reinforcement. Such equipment also is used to consolidate glass fibre and carbon fibre mats, webs, or cross-ply reinforcements (including fabrics and nonwovens using commingled polymer-based fibers) with thermoplastic or thermoset matrices.

Broadening offering

“Our decision to start offering preconsolidated nonwovens means that moulders can use our high-quality Carver products without having to make the capital investment to add contact heaters,” explained Mark Glidden, President, R3 Composites and Carver Non-Woven.

“By broadening our offering, no matter which heating mechanism a moulder is using, we now have a product that should work in that facility. The new system we’re installing will give us high throughput while also providing very accurate control of temperature and pressure. That way, there aren’t a lot of residual mechanical or thermal stresses on the material, so we maintain excellent product quality and consistency.”

Single short cycle

Sandvik’s high-capacity and highly automated TPS double-belt laminator/press systems are designed to enable all stages of nonwovens production to be carried out continuously in a single short cycle, including heating, reaction, pressing, and cooling. This has obvious benefits in terms of productivity as well as in accurate control and adjustment of process parameters to provide a high-quality, consistent end-product. Additionally, the high quality and precision control of the Sandvik laminator will allow Carver to take shrinkage (residual stresses) out of the web as it is being produced.

“Shrinkage of nonwovens made on low-cost laminators can be so high that customers end up having to purchase rolls that are 6-8 inches [15-20 cm] wider than they need just to compensate for the dimensional changes,” adds Glidden. “With the type of laminator we purchased, customers have reported seeing a 50-60% decrease in product shrinkage, which can really make a difference in a moulder’s productivity.”

The Sandvik system Carver has installed will allow the company to produce roll goods or flat sheet products as thin as 0.6mm (0.02 inches) and in five blank widths as wide as 3.2 meters (10.5 feet) with a 2.92-meter (9.58-foot) post-trim finish, according to the manufacturer. Sheet stock can be supplied in custom lengths to 17 meters (55 feet); for product that is flexible enough to roll, cut lengths can extend to 183 meters (600 feet).

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