New In-Cavity Cure Monitoring System

30 September 2003

Signature Control Systems has completed a series of field trials assessing the durability and accuracy of their SmartTrac in-cavity cure monitoring system for thermoset molding compounds.

SmartTrac measures the curing, or cross-linking of the molded part with a probe on the cavity surface, which is tied into the press control system to automatically open the press at the optimum time. The press-closed timer is thus eliminated from the process. Cycle time reductions of up to 30% have been achieved in the field trials, prompting lead trial customers to implement permanent installations of SmartTrac.

""The SmartTrac System gives thermosets a technological equipment advantage over thermoplastics for the first time,” states John Williams, Chief Operating Officer of Signature Control Systems. β€œIn the past, the only way to determine if the reaction was sufficiently complete was to open the press. We now have the ability to eliminate the safety time, increase productivity, maintain consistent quality with each batch, and take the guesswork out of the process.”

With the SmartTrac system, sensors, mounted directly into production molds, detect changes in electrical currents sent through the thermoset material as it is being cured. These changes in current, or impedance, are used to generate a ""signature"" data curve, which is unique to the specific compound. Furthermore, features of the signature are then correlated with the actual chemical and physical state of the compound. SmartTrac employs software algorithms that use these signatures to control and optimize the cure time for each press cycle, resulting in minimum cure times and repeatable degree of cure from part to part.

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