The new material HICOMPELT® introduces the production of carbon or glass fiber materials with an extremely high fiber content.
The company Handtmann Elteka based in Biberach an der Riß produces this high-tech material using the T-RTM process. The substance offers numerous production advantages which are beneficial for the automotive and aerospace industries. It is also easy to repair and recycle.
The Development Agency for Lightweighting Baden-Württemberg presents this innovation as its ThinKing for September 2017. Leichtbau BW GmbH awards this distinction each month to innovative products and services in the lightweighting sector from Baden-Württemberg.
Up to 65 percent fiber content by volume
By using the low viscosity cast polyamide material PA 6C or the high strength PA 12C Lauramid® as a matrix material, HICOMPELT® is able to integrate a high volume of fiber material of up to 65%. These two thermoplastics are infiltrated with carbon fibers, glass fibers or mixed materials and then roughly formed using near net shaping. Even metallic elements such as bolts or other metal parts can be integrated into the desired product. The near net shaping offers a clear production benefit from a cost standpoint: The process minimizes material and production costs. Components can be rapidly produced with a production cycle time of only three minutes.
The innovations featured in HICOMPELT® and the secret of the stability of the resulting components is the new production process. The so-called T-RTM process (thermoplastic resin transfer molding) injects the matrix material – either PA 6C or PA 12C – in a liquid form into the preformed fiber core and then pressed into the desired shape. The injection with these thermoplastics allows for a high fiber volume of up to 65%. The component requires little to no post-processing after being removed from the press. Due to the shortened production cycle, large serial production is possible with only a single tool.
The plastic and fibers are easily separable
HICOMPELT® is designed for nearly all applications which require high-strength but low-weight components. The new composite material is already being tested as a possible replacement for metal parts in a new generation of vehicles produced by the German automotive industry. By taking advantage of the possibility of integrating metal parts into the thermoplastic, these composite components can even be riveted or welded to adjacent metal parts. Engineers at Elteka are working on prototypes for even lighter structural components for use in airplanes and other applications.
In contrast to other composites, HICOMPELT® can be repaired through welding. This repair solution means that it is not necessary to replace an entire damaged part. Reuse of the material at the end of the component’s lifecycle is also a key factor in modern production. Since the matrix is composed of a thermoplastic, heat can be used to easily separate the plastic from the fiber core. HICOMPELT® will be publicly introduced to the market for the first time at the Hannover Messe Industrial Supply 2017 at the joint booth “Lightweighting from Baden-Württemberg”. From 19-21 September, Handtmann Elteka will be on site at the Baden-Württemberg joint booth at the Composites Europe in Stuttgart to present itself as a specialist for cast polyamide components and solutions.