Shape Machining has launched the Shape FastForm process, developed specifically to drastically reduce the time it takes to manufacture thermoplastic carbon composite parts.
Managing Director, Peter McCool, said “We have developed this technology as part of our road map strategy for high volume composite part manufacture. The ability to manufacture carbon parts in minutes, reliably and in a fully automatable process is a significant breakthrough. I am confident that this process will allow us to manufacture high volumes of composite parts for a wide variety of industry sectors. We aim to be the UK centre of excellence for thermoplastic composite production.”
The generic footplate design, that was used as the development part, was pressed in a sub 2-minute cycle time. The proprietary, patent protected technology rapidly heated and cooled the unconsolidated carbon thermoplastic preform, in a closed mould, at 80 bar pressure and consolidated it into the finished parts. The finished parts are not only produced quickly, in what Shape believes to be record breaking time, but they appear to be completely void free.
The Shape FastForm process has been used to test a whole range of thermoplastic materials, from a wide variety of material suppliers. Every material that was tested was processed quicker than Shape Engineers had observed from any other composite processing technology.
Shape expects this technology to have benefits for any industry that requires high volume, high quality, composite parts.
McCool continued “For production runs from 50 – 30,000 per annum the FastForm process should be the most cost-effective solution for composite part manufacture. But we already know that when the process is fully automated, and it can be, production volumes of 100,000 per tool per annum are possible.”
Shape has developed a team and a technology ready to deliver customer production quantities of carbon composite parts.
McCool added “I am really proud of this game-changing technology and the team of Engineers, technicians that have developed it.”