Plasan to launch new carbon-fiber process

By Bill Bregar
Senior Staff Reporter

Published: December 11, 2012 6:00 am ET

Related to this story

Topics Materials, Suppliers, Automotive

LIVONIA, MICH. (Dec. 11, 11:45 a.m. ET) — At the Plastics in Lightweight Vehicles conference, Plasan Carbon Composites Inc.’s chief technology officer, Gary Lownsdale, gave more details about a new rapid-curing molding process that he says is much faster than traditional autoclave technology for making auto parts.

Now Plasan is in the pre-production stage at an expanded factory in Walker, Mich., near Grand Rapids. In 2013, the company will begin making parts on seven presses from Globe Machine Co.

Check out a video interview with Tata Techonology executives at the Plastics in Lightweight Vehicles conference.

After investing $6 million over several years of research and development, Lownsdale said Plasan engineers had their “eureka moment” in 2010. They had studied the manufacturing process and synthesized the variables of autoclaving into a computer.

Lownsdale said current autoclave molding techniques have a 90-minute cycle, he said. That’s fine for low-volume vehicles or aerospace parts, but the process needs to be faster to get carbon-fiber-reinforced plastics into more mainstream cars. The new process takes just 17 minutes.

The Plasan team had to find, or build, new machinery to use the new process. They ended up working with Globe Machine, a 97-year-old company in Tacoma, Wash., that makes compression molding machines and handling equipment for the plywood, particle board, wooden I-beams and paper-handling industries.

“When they first looked at our graphs and charts, they understood exactly what we wanted to get done,” Lownsdale said. “Within 10 months, we had an operating piece of equipment.”

Plasan and Globe Machine entered into a long-term development project. Plasan calls the compression process a “pressure press.” Globe’s brand name is Rapid Cure.

“Our system is a replacement for an autoclave,” said Ron Jacobsen, Globe’s projects manager, who attended the conference, held Nov. 6-7 in Livonia.

Lownsdale declined to say what parts Plasan will make with the Pressure Press, or identify the carmaker. Plasan already makes carbon-fiber-reinforced hoods, roofs and trunk lids for Chrysler’s Dodge Viper. At the Society of Plastics Engineers Innovation Awards, Chrysler Group LLC won the Body Exterior Award for the hood of the 2013 SRT Viper, molded by Plasan.

SPE’s Automotive Division honored Lownsdale with an Innovation Lifetime Achievement Award at the ceremony, held Nov. 7, after Plastics in Lightweight Vehicles, which was organized by Plastics News.

The Viper is a high-end sports car. Now Lownsdale, an automotive composites veteran since the 1960s, said faster cycle times will help carbon fiber break through to a more base-level car in 2014.

Lownsdale said one bottleneck is layup of the fiber-reinforced parts. Plasan is working on robotic layup, which he said can happen within the next few years.

 

By use of this code snippet, I agree to the Brightcove Publisher T and C

found at https://accounts.brightcove.com/en/terms-and-conditions/.

—>

This script tag will cause the Brightcove Players defined above it to be created as soon

as the line is read by the browser. If you wish to have the player instantiated only after

the rest of the HTML is processed and the page load is complete, remove the line.

—>


Comments

Plasan to launch new carbon-fiber process

By Bill Bregar
Senior Staff Reporter

Published: December 11, 2012 6:00 am ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Ferro sells another piece of its plastics business

December 19, 2014 3:33 pm ET

Ferro Corp. has sold its North American polymer additives business to a private equity firm for $154 million in cash.    More

Image

The return of HPM's big presses

December 19, 2014 11:47 am ET

HPM is back in big injection molding machines.    More

Image

Antimicrobial polymers firm TiFiber launching pilot production in Ark.

December 19, 2014 10:58 am ET

TiFiber Inc., which makes synthetic compounds to control dangerous microorganisms, will locate a pilot production facility and its future company...    More

Smithers Group relocating some jobs to Ohio

December 19, 2014 10:05 am ET

Smithers Group will relocate its North American Information business unit from Portland, Maine, to Akron, Ohio, and as a result will move more than...    More

Image

Patel named LyondellBasell CEO

December 19, 2014 9:56 am ET

Bhavesh V. “Bob” Patel has been named CEO of Houston-based polyolefins producer LyondellBasell Industries NV, effective Jan. 12.    More

Market Reports

Flexible Packaging Trends in North America

Our latest RESEARCH report examines trends in FLEXIBLE PACKAGING impacting the North American market including a review of economic conditions, key drivers of growth, materials pricing, M&A activity, sustainability challenges and the outlook for 2015.

Learn more

Plastics in Brazil - State of the Industry Report

This in-depth report examines the Brazilian plastics industry from a historical and geographical context. Our analysts provide insight on economic trends and forecasts, growing manufacturing sectors that utilize plastics, private investment opportunities, market environment challenges, and innovations in R&D.

Data tables and charts on producer prices, trade, plastics production and end market indicators is also included.

Learn more

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

October 27, 2015 - October 29, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - New York - 2015

More Events