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6th November 2017, Solihull

Interview with Simon Price and Tim Bastow, CFP

UK-based Carbon Fibre Preforms is introducing two new products made possible by a new automated zero waste production process. Inside Composites spoke to managing director Simon Price and global business development manager Tim Bastow.

IC: You have just commercially introduced two new products to the market made possible by your ROCCS technology. Could you tell us a little about this?

SP: We started developing our now-patented ROCCS – rapid output controllable composite shapes – technology seven years ago. Having successfully proved its viability and advantages, we have been scaling it up for commercial production over the past two years. Our highly automated process involves combining thermoset, thermoplastic or speciality resin systems with precision chopped carbon fibres to produce unique 3D fibre structures, with the fibres randomly orientated in the X, Y and Z directions. It enables composite materials to be produced significantly faster and more cost effectively than existing conventional technologies. And with no waste.

Global business development manager Tim Bastow and managing director Simon Price. © Carbon Fibre Preforms

IC: Your 360 product is aimed at the composites tooling market. What advantages can it bring here?

SP: We see a big opportunity for 360 in this market as a commercially-viable replacement for metal tools. It will find a specific niche position in the composite tooling market, being longer lasting than epoxy materials, and lighter and more cost effective than extremely expensive thermoplastics. It’s often the case that the end-user has to buy over-engineered tools.

TB: It combines the precision benefits of an exceptionally low CTE of 5.4 and a temperature resistance of 300°C in a single tooling material. It’s very easy to mill and available in thicknesses from 5-20mm. The sheets are lightweight, easy to machine, bond and block up into larger net surface areas. We can also turn deliveries around extremely quickly. For comparable metal materials in large volumes, you are looking at lead times of weeks or even months. We can reduce this to six-to-nine days. It’s suitable for high precision direct-to-part tooling, assembly fixtures, jigs or backing structures.

IC: What about FR.10 materials?

SP: These are based on a blend of carbon fibres and a proprietary resin to provide exceptional performance in high temperature and fire scenarios while emitting almost zero smoke or gases. Product testing of a 10mm-thick sheet has included a successful four-hour fire resistance test at 1,200˚C under 80kg load after which the material remained structurally sound.

360 product. © Carbon Fibre Preforms

TB: FR.10 materials are available in large modular sheets up to one metre by 1.4 metres and in thicknesses of 5mm upwards. At 10mm thick, they weigh less 13kg per square metre, so in addition to offering lightweight protection they are very to install and transport.  In addition, they can be easily joined using conventional fasteners or adhesives and are non-corrosive, weather-proof and impervious to industrial solvents and chemicals.

IC: Where do you see these materials being used?

TB: Virtually anywhere where light weight is a factor in high temperature applications. The development of this material arose from projects in the oil and gas industry, where we were trying to find a carbon fibre composite that didn’t burn. Offshore producers use a lot of thick metallic parts and FR.10 offers a lighter weight alternative to them, in a nice sheet form and with no complex bonding or inserts. There are potentially a lot of infrastructure applications too. We’ve been looking at the potential in, for example, liner protection in tunnels, elevators and evacuation rooms. We’re still very much at the beginning of exploring applications in the industrial, civil engineering, transport, marine and offshore markets.

SP: In a nutshell, both 360 and FR.10 are targeting separate and distinct markets to replace metals and other non-composite materials, where they offer both performance and price advantages. They are both available in sheet form and also as near net shape materials.

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