Plasan to launch new carbon-fiber process

By Bill Bregar
Senior Staff Reporter

Published: December 21, 2012 6:00 am ET

Lownsdale

Related to this story

Topics Automotive

LIVONIA, MICH. (Dec. 21, 10:50 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.

After investing $6 million over several years of research and development, Plasan engineers had their “eureka moment” in 2010, Lownsdale said. 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. 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.


Comments

Plasan to launch new carbon-fiber process

By Bill Bregar
Senior Staff Reporter

Published: December 21, 2012 6:00 am ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Gurit wins carbon fiber auto contract using new processing technology

January 23, 2015 9:22 am ET

Switzerland-based composite materials group Gurit Holding AG has been selected as the supplier for carbon fiber based automotive body panels at a...    More

Image

ACC's 'Roadmap' gaining traction

January 22, 2015 1:56 pm ET

Nearly a year into the launch of the latest effort to promote greater use of plastics in automotive applications, a trade group behind the push says...    More

Image

Auto supplier Cooper-Standard to trim operations in Europe

January 22, 2015 11:08 am ET

Novi, Mich.-based Cooper-Sandard Holdings Inc. said Jan. 21 it plans to consolidate its operations in Europe, including reducing manufacturing in...    More

Image

Hyundai Mobis investing $24 million to expand in Slovakia

January 22, 2015 9:28 am ET

South Korean auto parts maker Hyundai Mobis has unveiled plans to invest about 21 million euros ($24.1 million) to modernize and expand the output...    More

Image

Buick concept makes waves with plastic

January 21, 2015 2:25 pm ET

Buick's newly-debuted Avenir concept car includes a large polymer dash panel that's making waves — literally. The panel, glossy and smooth to th...    More

Market Reports

Plastics in Automotive: Innovation & Emerging Trends

This special report newly released by PN and sponsored by The Conair Group examines current trends in the use of plastics in automotive, materials innovations and the changing landscape. It includes a review of legislative/regulatory activity impacting vehicle development and lightweighting, market opportunities & challenges for mold and toolmakers, innovative design strategies being implemented by major OEMs and suppliers, as well as a review of key indicators in Canada, Mexico, Brazil and China.

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

Injection Molding Market Analysis & Processor Rankings

Plastics News BUNDLED package contains our in-depth Market Analysis of the Injection Molding segment. You will gain keen insight on current trends and our economic outlook.

As a BONUS this includes PN's updated 2014 database of North American Injection Molders RANKED by sales volume. Sort, merge, mail & prospect by end market, materials processed, region, # of plants and more.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

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

More Events