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Plastech has introduced a new simple technique for composite closed moulding, using only one moderate level vacuum source as an introductory process to composite closed moulding.
The Monovac system only requires an inexpensive, moderate vacuum source and does not require the use of any meter mix injection equipment and therefore has an extremely low start up price tag for a closed mould technology. It is designed for the production moulder with limited resources but who would like to enter the field of closed moulding.
The global composites industry is now applying the Light RTM closed mould technique with great success, however there are still a great many traditional hand lay manufacturers who are reluctant to use LRTM due to concerns over the perceived costs involved and the level of technical expertise required, although the experience of many who have introduced LRTM into their workshops has dispelled these misplaced perceptions. The Monovac system is designed to offer first time users the opportunity to learn, understand and use the benefits of closed mould technology at a very low entry cost.
The system uses a matched composite mould set with a resin inlet and vacuum connection. Sealing on the edge of the mould is employed for vacuum security and resin containment. Once the mould has been closed and a vacuum applied, the resin mix is simply funnelled into the mould and left to fill and cure. One of Plastech’s clients uses the Monovac System to mould over 100 riding helmets per 8 hour shift employing just one operator. For a more rapid cure the mould can be water temperature controlled.
Currently the technology is best applied to relatively small mouldings, examples being motorcycle cowlings, helmets, sports goods or any moulding in the range of up to 2-3 kg. Although size is not a limiting factor, parts over 0.5m square can take a long time to fill and might be more suited to the Light RTM process. High fibre volume fraction is achievable, with the process reaching aerospace specification, although a moderate 30 – 50% fibre weight is more common.
This news article is taken from the latest edition of RTM today – Winter 2005, published by Plastech TT Ltd, and is now exclusively available from the NetComposites website. Click the above RTM image for further details.
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