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

High pressure RTM systems moving from Europe to Mexico

November 20, 2014 4:24 pm ET

Engel Holding GmbH's subsidiary in Mexico says it has sold the first high pressure resin transfer machine system (HP-RTM) in the Americas to a...    More

Image

Thomson Plastics opens N.C. plant

November 20, 2014 3:12 pm ET

Custom injection molder Thomson Plastics Inc. has opened a new manufacturing facility in Lexington, N.C.    More

Image

Inspection system eyes carbon fiber automotive production

November 19, 2014 9:00 am ET

Pixargus GmbH, the company that created GoalControl, a 14-camera inspection system used to detect if a ball crossed the goal line at the World Cup...    More

Image

Electronics, aerospace driving new Aptiv film production for Victrex

November 18, 2014 9:40 am ET

Victrex plc has launched production at its new $25 million manufacturing facility for high performance thermoplastic film Aptiv, with the United...    More

Image

Category winners announced for SPE Automotive Innovation Awards

November 17, 2014 3:13 pm ET

DETROIT —The Society of Plastics Engineers' automotive division has announced the category winners for its 2014 Automotive Innovation Awards. SP...    More

Market Reports

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

Injection Molders Market Report & Ranking 2014

This special package contains our 132-page 2014 Market Report on the Injection Molding segment and our exclusive 2014 RANKINGS database of 500+ Injection Molders for a discounted package price.

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