NTPT Wins JEC World 2016 Innovation Award
North Thin Ply Technology (NTPT), Penthalaz-Cossonay, Switzerland, has won a JEC World 2016 Innovation Award for its TPT Quartz thin ply prepreg, which was engineered to enable the manufacture of intricately-shaped watch cases for prestigious Swiss brand Richard Mille. This 52 g/m2 material – the world's first thin ply quartz fiber prepreg – made its debut in the RM 27-02 Rafael Nadal watch.
NTPT's quartz prepreg won the Luxury category of the JEC World 2016 Innovation Awards. The project team from NTPT, Richard Mille, Saint-Gobain Quartz and Reichhold will be presented with the award during the JEC World composites exhibition in Paris on 8-10 March 2016. NTPT developed the prepreg in close collaboration with Saint-Gobain Quartz, which supplied its Quartzel fused quartz fiber reinforcement for this project, Reichhold, which developed an Advalite hot melt, monomer-free vinyl hybrid resin for the matrix, and Richard Mille, which led the design and validation work for this highly demanding end use.
The new prepreg had to meet an extensive list of performance specifications, starting with a high strength to weight ratio. The project team had to demonstrate that the material was non-allergenic, would not yellow in sunlight (UV) and was resistant to a range of chemicals that the watch could encounter during its lifetime. The prepreg also had to enable the manufacture of an intricately-shaped watch case that is lightweight, extremely strong and impact resistant, and watertight. An unusual design driver is that the aesthetic properties require a white, contamination-free composite.
Using its proprietary spread tow technology NTPT manufactured unidirectional (UD) quartz fiber prepreg tapes of 300 mm width with a fiber areal weight of 52 g/m2 . The tapes were then transformed into 2-D prepreg preforms using NTPT’s automated tape laying (ATL) equipment. The preform is cured to produce a densified composite block, which is machined into the watch components by Richard Mille. The use of thin ply prepreg enables machining into extremely complex shapes without delamination, which ensures that the watch case is watertight.
TPT Quartz prepreg is initially exclusive to Richard Mille luxury watches, but NTPT has developed unique know-how in the processing of quartz fibers and can now offer quartz prepreg materials ranging from thin ply UD tapes of 50 g/m2 through to multiaxial preforms. Quartz prepreg could also be applied in aerospace, telecoms, defence and other specialized applications, where a combination of properties such as low weight, excellent electromagnetic transparency and resistance to impact or an aggressive environment is crucial. NTPT is currently in discussions with a number of companies interested in employing this new material.
North Thin Ply Technology SÀRL
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