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12-18-2014

New Tooling Prepregs Qualified for Aircraft Manufacture

CFRP Molds for Fiber-Reinforced Composites

SGL Group exhibited newly developed prepregs (pre-impregnated textile semi-finished products) for mold construction at the Composites Europe trade show. These so-called tooling prepregs are shaped and cured to make carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) molds, which are then used to produce fiber composite components.

Tooling prepregs can be produced with woven carbon fiber fabrics (figure: SGL Group)

The Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer has already qualified the new prepregs. "The special properties of this prepreg system ensure optimum drapability and reliable mold construction. At the same time, the longer service life of the mold leads to higher productivity," said Dr. Andreas Wöginger, SGL Group Vice President Product and Technology Management.

Compared with conventional steel or aluminum molds, the CFRP molds offer significantly lower thermal expansion, lighter weight, and higher stiffness. Particularly in the production of CFRP components, a CFRP mold makes it possible to manufacture complex parts without warpage, thanks to the homogeneous thermal expansion. In addition, the epoxy prepreg system developed for mold construction has a long shelf life, low curing temperature, and short curing time, as well as minimal odor formation. This greatly facilitates processing.

Carbon tooling prepregs are also suitable for moldmaking in other industrial applications. SGL Group uses state-of-the-art facilities to produce pre-impregnated carbon and glass fiber materials. The material properties can be optimized through suitable choice of textile components and matrix material (resin). The fiber type basically determines mechanical properties, while by modifying the epoxy resin system it is possible to adjust viscosity and also curing temperature (between 80 and 180 °C). Depending on the matrix type, the areal density of the new tooling prepregs varies between 150 and 1,200 g/m².

Translated from Kunststoffe 12/2014, p. 13.

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