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16th January 2019, UK

NCC and Surface Generation show thermoplastic overmoulding capabilities

Overmoulded component in PtFS tooling. © National Composites CentreThe National Composites Centre (NCC) is currently supporting Surface Generation (Rutland, UK) in the application of its PtFS technology with a thermoplastic composites injection overmoulding process. 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 1.2 kgs 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, the organisation says.

“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,” commented Sean Cooper, Principal Research Engineer for High Volume Manufacturing at the NCC.

“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.” 

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 (Austria) features a horizontal 1700T press, injection barrel temperatures/pressures up to 420 °C and 2000 bar with a shot volume up to 6400 cm3.

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.

“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,” said Alasdair Ryder, Special Projects Engineer at Surface Generation.

www.nccuk.com

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