Simplicity is the key to success in composites
Fiera Milano RHOMilan . Italy
A simple definition of composites: two or more materials when combined (either mechanically or chemically) become stronger, the material produced then possess other enhanced properties than the individual materials by themselves.
Advanced textile reinforced composites can be defined as those materials made from textile reinforcement structures derived from woven materials, 3D systems, nonwovens, knitted materials, yarns or fibre bundles that are designed predominantly to operate in critical or extreme environments. The textile is normally the reinforcement and the matrix holding it together is a cured binder or polymer.
Producers of such materials often customise and refine the materials used to create them in either single or multiple layers to make them robust and stiff, or to provide light weighting properties and hence thinner and more flexible products are produced. They are sometimes put together as dry layers and infused in a further process that adds the binder or they are pre-impregnated prior to formation and are often referred to as prepreg.
Advanced composites have been used for many applications in recent years. Today these materials are used in many facets of modern life. They range from phone and tablet cases, sports equipment and to high-end applications such as manned and unmanned space craft and exploration probes and satellites, supercars, wind turbines, marine applications, aerospace, F1 and motorsport, and military applications.
Developments around new and novel materials made from natural reinforcements and thermoplastic binders (or high bio content resin systems) are of great interest to many users in the textile industry and the other sectors employing composites. These materials are designed to be more easily produced and post processed, making them potentially more sustainable and, in some cases, less expensive. It may also make them easier to recycle at the end of their useful life.
These recent developments in high performing modern materials have evolved and will continue to do so. In time it will become a more affordable route for mainstream manufacturing of many everyday items. This arena of industrial development has already massively transformed the automotive, marine, military, wind energy and aerospace sectors, and it has plenty of potential for existing and new applications in building, construction and the architectural industry.
Evolving manufacturing trends firmly place coating and laminating equipment at its core, whether it is for precision blade coating of thermoplastic or thermosetting materials as a full film or in stripes, or by using discontinuously applied dots and other forms of resin pattern applied for some novel in-mould applications.
Many exhibitors at ITMA 2023 provide such machines, which are increasingly employed for producing stronger, lighter, and more environmentally friendly processes and products; a few manufacturers also have significant knowledge in the composites arena and continue to develop the technology specifically in this field.
They will be displaying the latest developments which include hot melt dry lamination of materials using reactive moisture curing resin systems, transfer, extrusion and direct coating of films, semi prepreg powder infusion processes and a range of tow-preg and spreading equipment that are able to coat, spread and impregnate bundles of fibres for many critical and extreme applications.
Textile reinforced composites for advanced applications are steadily forging a niche for use in mass transportation applications and the general automotive sector. They have huge ongoing and future potential and are considered a ground-breaking technology. These materials, and the machinery that manufactures them are very much part of the ITMA 2023 exhibition.
Barry Goodwin, Managing Director, Amba Projex
About Amba Projex
Amba Projex designs, manufactures, and installs industrial coating & lamination equipment, converting machines and automated processes. They are experts in the field of woven and UDT prepreg machinery, towpreg, spreading equipment and bespoke creels. The company’s expertise includes the design, manufacture, supply and installation of new special purpose technical textile machines and process solutions for extreme and critical end use products.
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