Surface Generation (Rutland, UK), a provider of advanced carbon-fiber processing technologies, announced that it has completed delivery of its largest ever PtFS system to advanced composites manufacturer Quatro Composites of Poway, CA.
The modular PtFS system, which can be reconfigured for use across multiple projects, is being applied to thermoplastic structures, part of a high-volume North American aircraft program.
It is the first system produced by Surface Generation that incorporates more than 200 individually heated and cooled areas within the tool faces, allowing thermal control to be applied more precisely when forming highly complex components.
Ben Halford, Chief Executive at Surface Generation, told PlasticsToday that this unique “single-shot process” replaces the thermoset epoxy “multiple-stage process” and results in a “more robust tool” that can be used in mass production. “For the first time, we’re able to heat and cool each section of the tool, allowing very intricate ways of temperature control,” said Halford.
PtFS enables manufacturers using compression and injection molding technology to adapt heating and cooling levels in real-time to meet the exact requirements of each part. The process is used by global automotive, aerospace, energy and consumer electronics manufacturers to improve component production quality and throughput, said Surface Generation.
“These monolithic composite components are subjected to high aerodynamic loads in a highly abrasive area of the aircraft,” said Halford. “As such, this out-of-autoclave high-volume production application needs to be incredibly precise to assure quality and maximize throughput. By using PtFS, Quatro Composites has achieved a step change in its manufacturing processes. It’s all about improving the application using the composites and making fully integrated structures that are highly optimized.”
Rob Westberg, Vice President of R&D at Quatro Composites, said, “We’ve been working with Surface Generation to refine our production processes and prove that PtFS can form these complex components consistently, economically and to a greater quality than previously possible. PtFS is a cutting edge process that enhances our ability to produce structural components for state-of-the-art commercial and military aircraft.”
Halford added that the two companies have worked for close to three years to obtain the approvals required for this program.