Machine makes prepregs for aerospace

Prepreg specialist Cygnet Texkimp has developed a new prepreg manufacturing machine.

According to the company, while conventional in-line prepreg machines incorporate separate compaction stations (compactors) arranged in a horizontal line, the Multi Roll Stack features a single compaction module containing multiple impregnation rollers arranged vertically. By configuring the technology in this way, the machine’s footprint has reportedly been reduced by more than 50% with increased processing speeds. “Stacking the rollers within one compaction module removes the need for multiple drive motors and heaters, which in turn also reduces energy consumption and cost by more than half compared to conventional prepreg technologies,” a press release said.

It works by passing material repeatedly around the Multi Roll Stack’s heated impregnation rollers, increasing contact with the rollers throughout the process and reducing the energy required to achieve impregnation of the resin within the fibers. One aim of the design was to reduce or remove the heating-cooling cycle, which is common in conventional in-line prepreg technologies, so that the temperature of the material remains consistent.

“This space-saving machine offers a way to manufacture towpreg and prepreg materials quickly and accurately while delivering considerable cost and energy benefits,” said Graeme Jones, product director at Cygnet Texkimp. “It is a more sustainable and cost-effective way to process prepregs which offers the potential for them to be used more widely in high-volume and mainstream applications.”

According to Jones, in tests, prepregs of 112 gsm have been achieved at speeds of 10 m per minute.

Cygnet says that the technology was developed as part of a UK collaboration to develop better components at a higher volume for aerospace applications. The production speed and coat weight accuracy achieved by the Multi Roll Stack mean that it can manufacture precision towpregs with the same resin systems commonly used in the aerospace industry, it added.

The new machine will be on show at the JEC exhibition, according to the company.