German specialty chemicals company Evonik announced the introduction of a new technology for the mass, automated production of molded composite components on Monday that combines compression molding and pultrusion.
The new system, dubbed the PulPress method, combines the two traditional production techniques into an automated, continuous manufacturing technology that wraps fibers around Evonik’s ROHACELL high-performance structural foam core before impregnation with resin. Manufacturers can fine tine the material into complex shapes using high temperatures and pressure, with the system allowing producers to utilize advanced geometries and integrate recessed area for fixtures and threaded components.
“Particular impressive aspects of the new manufacturing process include its design flexibility and cost efficiency, and the crash behavior of the resulting composite parts – parts that are about 75% lighter than traditional steel structures,” Evonik said in its press release. “Plus, the PulPress method also reduces costs by up to 60% compared to composite parts manufactured using established methods such as resin injection.”
The automotive industry is increasingly using composite components in vehicles in an effort to reduce C02 emissions, fuel usage, and weight. Evonik said that the expense of manufacturing composite components has typically been limited to use to luxury vehicles, but the new PulPress method can simplify mass production of the components and reduce costs.
“These advantages have already won over a large number of customers in the European automotive industry,” said Dr. Sivakumara Krisnamoorthy, manager for new applications in Evonik’s Resource Efficiency unit, in a statement. “Molded parts made using PulPress will soon be going into mass production.”
The base material for the process, ROHACELL, is known for its temperature-resistant and lightweight properties, as well as its rigidity and strength, according to Evonik.
Evonik said the PulPress method will also be of interest to manufacturers beyond automakers, like aerospace components and sports equipment producers.
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