Mountain Bike Handle Bar Wins JEC World Innovation Award
This year’s winner in the RTM category at the JEC World Innovation Awards shows how complex hollow parts can be mass-produced in an automated process at competitive prices. The joint project of KTM Technologies, H2K Minerals, Teufelberger and BASF takes an integrative view of the process chain – from core formation and the manufacturing of the preform with braided carbon fibers, via the HP-RTM process (high pressure resin transfer molding) using reactive polyurethane resin to the dissolving of the core material.
The project called “Cavus” implemented a geometrically complex hollow part with undercuts by producing a mountain bike handlebar. The technology demonstrator combines the latest processing technologies with mature materials in a procedure that can be applied for the mass production of competitive lightweight parts in the automotive and other industries.
The project was initiated by KTM Technologies GmbH, Salzburg, Austria, which is responsible for project lead, part development, mold construction and the manufacturing of the parts. H2K Minerals GmbH, Denkendorf, Germany, developed and produced the materials for the HP-RTM compatible cores. The braided preform was developed, optimized and manufactured by the composite part producer Teufelberger Ges.m.b.H, Wels, Austria. Process simulation and the PU system used are from BASF SE, Ludwigshafen, Germany.
The starting point for the component is a specially developed pressure and temperature resistant core. It consists of sand as well as water-soluble additives and can be formed into many different geometries. Preforming is accomplished in a fully automated carbon fiber braiding process. The subsequent HP-RTM process is distinguished by short injection times and a highly reactive, compact polyurethane resin system from BASF, which drastically reduces the cycle time to two to three minutes. Due to the high internal mold pressure the carbon fibers can be fully wetted, complex component geometries can be produced with high fiber volume contents. At the end of the process, the core material is dissolved with water, a method which is also possible with small component cavities. Depending on the core manufacturing method, up to 98% of the core material can be reused for subsequent production.
“Our unique “Cavus” project solves this problem with an innovative, rapid and reliable process which can revolutionize the mass production of complex hollow parts in unit numbers of more than 10,000. The combination of lightweight composite construction and reasonable costs has become tangible. Close collaboration between the companies involved, their know-how and their love of innovation made a decisive contribution to this success”, says Hans Lochner, head of technology development and prototyping at KTM Technologies.
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