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RTM process promises to simplify composite auto part production

By: Rhoda Miel

November 11, 2013

A wide-ranging group of technology, material and equipment suppliers have developed a new resin transfer molding process that would simplify production and painting for automotive composite parts.

KraussMaffei AG showed off the production of complete carbon fiber roof panels for Roding Automobile GmbH during K 2013 in Düsseldorf, and companies that have collaborated in the process are continuing to discuss the project with customers.

Surface RTM uses carbon fiber from Zoltek Corp. and polyurethane from Henkel KG & Co. KGaA, a UV-resistant coating fro Rühl Puromer GmbH and a compression press from Dieffenbacher GmbH.

The panel made at K was a 2-millimeter thick carbon fiber structure that emerges from the mold with a 0.2 millimeter coating with a paintable surface that can go onto the paint line alongside other exterior car parts.

The demonstration machine was an RTM mold carrier with a compact mold carrier design that can be accessed from all four sides for flexibility in operation and automation. A special seal system in the mold makes it possible to inject PU with vacuum assistance when the mold is slightly opened, but can still be used for standard closed-mold injection. Integrated sensors monitor and regulate optimal filling, KraussMaffei noted in a news release about the project.

The Roding Roadster R1 is a low-volume sports car with 120 kilograms worth of carbon fiber. The entire car weighs 950 kilograms.