The ThermoPlastic composite Research Center (TPRC), based in Enschede, The Netherlands, is leading a research consortium focusing on the overmolding process of thermoplastic composites. The consortium covers the aerospace and automotive value chains and includes companies such as Boeing, Safran Composites, Fokker Aerostructures, SMP, Johnson Controls, TenCate and KraussMaffei.
Thermoplastic composites feature excellent mechanical properties and low weight and have been successfully used in a large number of applications. Currently, there has been an increasing demand for large volume applications, driven by the automotive industry. The overmolding process, being a combination of press forming of thermoplastic composites and subsequent injection over-molding, enables net-shape stiff and strong parts with a high level of function integration. Due to the nature of thermoplastics, the overmolding process features very low cycle times and allows for automated processing.
The aim of the project is to develop the overmolding process and provide processing and design guidelines for overmolded products. The research focus is on interface weld strength and warpage, as well as developing the virtual process chain. These building blocks form the basis for large scale introduction of overmolding in the different value chains. The organisation reports that ‘very promising first results of interface characteristics’ have already been obtained.
‘The demand for new engines as a result of the strong growth of air traffic represents industrial challenges to Safran,’ said Wouter Balk, R&D project engineering, Safran. ‘With regards to composite engine components we are therefore actively looking for innovative processes enabling reduced cycle time and cost. We expect thermoplastics and over molding to be a suitable solution for some specific engine parts.'
This story is reprinted from material from TPRC, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.