Supporting UK Composites

Shape and Tencate Develop New Press Moulding Technique Lowers Cost of Prototyping

Automotive Panel from Shape and Tencate

Shape Machining say it has successfully demonstrated its capabilities in the field of advanced composites for automotive applications, through a recent collaboration with TenCate Advanced Composites.

The company claims it is developing processes that lower the cost of prototyping and speed up the demonstration of scalable composites manufacturing processes. This has been in response to the growing demands of the low to mid volume automotive market, who require quick manufacture of parts using out of autoclave processes.

Together with TenCate Advanced Composites, Shape designed and manufactured a technology demonstrator component specifically to be press moulded using TenCate E732 snap-cure prepregs. The aluminium press mould tooling was designed and manufactured by Shape to enable hot pressing of first-off parts, curing in only 4 minutes. In total the project, from conception to delivery, took 9 weeks to complete.

Carbon fibre reinforced polymers is used in a variety of applications by customers of Shape due to its inherent high strength, high stiffness and low mass properties.

Shape’s Composites and Engineering Manager, Glen Pascoe, said “this snap cure prepreg, allows us to cure parts in only 4 minutes using the heated press equipment installed at Shape. We’re very pleased with the surface finish, level of consolidation and speed of development shown on this project. The unique automotive panel geometry has many features such as steep sides, a perimeter flange, recesses and ribs. Final CNC trimming in a bespoke vacuum jig adds further through holes and trims the flange to the correct size."

TenCate’s Product Manager for Thermoset Technologies, Jed Illsley added “working with the team at Shape has been a fantastic experience. Their adoption of snap-cure out of autoclave materials has been remarkable, producing high quality parts with complex geometries.”





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