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Carbovar Lightweight and Durable Tooling Technology Ready For Scale Up

06 June 2012

Carbovar technology, advanced composite tooling with enhanced durability through the adhesion of a nano-crystalline Invar (Nanovate NV) surface coating, has developed to an extent that manufacturers Umeco, supported by their partners Integran Technologies, are now seeking to scale up production capability.

According to Umeco, Carbovar tooling combines the hardness, durability and damage tolerance of a nano-metal coating (already significantly greater than that of standard Invar), with the lightweight, low thermal mass of carbon composite materials. They say closely matched CTE and strong adhesion between the Nanovate NV coating and Umeco’s LTM tooling systems ensures that highly accurate tooling can be manufactured and that the ultra-hard surface remains attached to the composite through its extended production life.

Since the technology was launched in 2010, Umeco has combined broad customer trialling of Carbovar tooling with further enhancement of the nano-metal coating developed by Integran and continued refinement of mould manufacturing techniques. The latest example is a tool for a component for a Martin-Baker ejection seat, which, they explain, is currently undergoing extended production trials. This tool was on display on the Umeco stand at SAMPE Baltimore last week.

From a cost perspective, Umeco says that Carbovar generally sits below the expense of a standard Invar tool and above that of a carbon composite tool. However, Carbovar tools are manufactured from an existing master model, which significantly reduces the cost of subsequent tool builds and makes using Carbovar instead of Invar economical in the long run. In addition, the significant enhanced durability offered by Carbovar further reduces the tooling cost per part.

Currently the maximum mould size achievable is roughly 6.6 ft x 6.6 ft, and Umeco and Integran continue to provide production tooling within these confines. However the technology has now matured to such an extent that Umeco, through its newly formed Tooling business stream based in Derby (UK) and Toulouse (France), are seeking to scale up size and exploitation of this novel technology.