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Press Release - September 2011

ebalta Launch New Manufacturing Process
FIBRETEMP and New ebablock® Materials

The Composites Engineering Show 2011, Hall 20, Stand 846

ebalta Distribution are pleased to announce they will be exhibiting at the Composites Engineering Show 2011 in November and using this platform to introduce to the market a new innovative manufacturing technique, FIBRETEMP as well as their two latest cast-to-size materials ebablock® 170 and ebablock 1820.

FIBRETEMP is a process that involves electrically heating a composite mould, allowing the production of composite parts, either through the use of a resin infusion system, resin filled carbon fibre prepreg or standard wet layup procedures, without heating or post-curing in a large scale oven or autoclave. The process is ideal for big moulds with a large surface area, as the system offers a very productive, energy efficient and cost effective solution.

Most processes for fabricating plastic parts require heating and different methods for heating moulds have been tried for many years, but have typically run the risk of short circuits and warpage of the moulds due to non uniform heating. But with FIBRETEMP these problems have been overcome by the specific arrangement of the carbon fibres and integrated construction of the area to be heated, which is positioned close to the surface of the tool.

The operating principle is very simple. It uses standard carbon fibres which are electrically conductive but when compared with a metal such as copper wire, the electrical resistance is many times higher so if energized the carbon fibres heat up due to this electrical resistance. Instead of using single fibre strands, complete fibre patterns are used as heating elements, providing a 2-dimensional structure.

Fibres positioned parallel to current flow act as conductors whereas transverse fibres distribute current all over the surface leading to uniform temperature distribution all over the mould surfaces. A flexible copper strip is fed into each side of the mould which is connected to the control module, a low voltage transformer, allowing the heating of the mould surfaces to be controlled.

The composite moulds can be produced from a number of different ebalta laminating resins including LH 26, LH 28-1 or LH 30 depending on the heat required in the mould which is determined by the final composite part requirements. The carbon laminates, which form the surface structure as well as the heating element, are quite thin with a wall thickness of only 5mm. Large moulds are typically built as a sandwich structure, so the core increases the wall thickness and the flexural strength, which serves as insulation to keep the heat inside the mould. This way the temperature remains where it is required, on the mould surface, to heat the mould and cure the resin infusion or prepreg material.

Key advantages of FIBRETEMP are shorter demoulding times for increased productivity, energy savings as no oven or autoclave is required, a safe working environment as only low voltages are applied to the tool, the heating element matrix of carbon fibre ensures full heating functionality with virtually no heat loss, no investment in ovens is required for large mould production, it is easy to build big lightweight moulds and as the tool surfaces are heated the resin flow improves within the mould ensuring the production of accurate, high quality composite parts.

ebalta will also be showing newly introduced cast-to-size materials, ebablock® 170 and ebablock 1820 as well as ebablock EP138, the first commercially available epoxy cast-to-size material on the market, introduced specifically for composite applications such as prepreg tools.

Cast-to-size blocks are provided through an innovative manufacturing technique which produces individual, bespoke sized, semi-finished, near net size casting that can then be machined accurately by the customer to the final dimensions required.

Blocks can be cast in bespoke dimensions and shapes. Sizes cast to date have ranged up to 8 meters in length and with a thickness of up to 400mm, but sizes are dependent upon the specific material in use. The epoxy EP 138 material can be cast in thicknesses up to 350mm and up to 600 litres in volume.

All blocks are cast in-house by ebalta providing solutions for applications in composites, mould and tool making, design and foundry markets. Internal processes ensure all customer information supplied can be securely handled for confidential projects. Key benefits of this technology include minimal wastage, minimal machining, fast turnaround times and no bond lines from joining individual boards.

ebalta develops and manufactures a range of over 20 polyurethane and epoxy cast-to-size materials, including ebablock 105, 185, 708, EP138, M007, PW920 and W, along with all necessary accessories such as colour matched putties and repair compounds.

Having specialised in the development and manufacture of advanced materials for over 35 years ebalta will also be exhibiting many other solutions for the composite market including epoxy boards for pattern making, high performance epoxy resins for vacuum technology, laminating or RTM processing as well as innovative manufacturing methods using resin infusion systems for the production of composite parts.

With a reputation for technical excellence and customer service, ebalta continues to provide innovative and easy to use solutions by working closely with customers, providing high-tech products for high-tech applications.

® ebalta and ebablock are trademarks of ebalta Kunststoff GmbH.

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Press Contact:
Sarah Scott

t: +44 1332 814700
e: sarah@ebaltadistribution.co.uk

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® ebalta and ebablock are registered trademarks of ebalta Kunststoff GmbH.
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