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On 19 June, 2012, RocTool presented a world first by demonstrating that it is now possible to obtain an ultra-thin hybrid thermoplastic composite/plastic part with no surface defects from a single mould and with a shorter cycle time, using “Hybrid” technology and to mould thermoset parts with a shorter cycle time and eliminate the post-curing step, using “high-speed RTM” technology.
This was presented at RocTool’s Innovation Moulding Technologies Update (IMTU). RocTool CEO Alexandre Guichard says, “These new technologies represent a genuine advance in the automotive, electronics and aerospace industries, enabling manufacturers in the composite and plastics processing sectors to get a head start because the technologies meet the requirements of high production rates while preserving a strong qualitative advantage both for weight reduction and surface finish.”
With its “Hybrid” technology, RocTool says it combines the advantages of a composite material with those of plastic injection in a two-step moulding process that produces a part devoid of surface defects. And for the first time, composites (TP) and plastics are being formed together in the same induction mould without use of infrared oven or pre-consolidated sheets, considerably improving the performance of the part. Using RocTool’s plastic injection moulds equipped with 3iTech technology, RocTool explains it is possible to obtain a high-performance part that is ultra-lightweight and devoid of surface defects, giving new design potential to automotive and electronics manufacturers, in particular. “Today, weight reduction is a strong advantage, both in automotive where the impact of new regulations is being felt, and also for computer and smartphone manufacturers, for example. Our hybrid process combines the advantages of a thermoplastic composite for its mechanical properties with those of a plastic injection process for its forming and design potential. Such a combination of high-performance materials offers new possibilities to processors and contractors,” says RocTool’s Business Development Director, Mathieu Boulanger.
With its high-speed RTM technology, RocTool says it is now the only market player able to offer thermoset composite part moulding with fast cycle times of only 5 to 7 minutes, without the need for post-cure. “RTM technologies have considerable appeal for all stages of the process. The injection step is made easier, because it functions at low temperature (e.g. better control over filling process, without risk of premature cross-linking and a lower pressure level, reducing the stresses applied to the part). For the curing step, raising the cross-linking temperature reduces the cycle time for an identical or even higher glass transition temperature, while eliminating the need for a post-curing step, which is costly in terms of energy consumption and equipment. And by cooling the part under pressure, it is possible to obtain Class A surface parts even while eliminating the final shaping step. This considerable time saving will enable mass production. Auto builders are very interested in the technology, for example, to produce parts for electric vehicles”, says RocTool R&D Director José Feigenblum.
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