Sensors: Data for next-gen composites manufacturing
Suppliers of dielectric sensors such as Lambient Technologies (Cambridge, Mass., U.S.), Netzsch (Selb, Germany) and Synthesites (Uccle, Belgium) have also demonstrated their ability to shorten cycle times. Synthesites reported from R&D projects with composites manufacturers Hutchinson (Paris, France) and Bombardier Belfast, now Spirit AeroSystems (Belfast, Ireland), that it was able to reduce the cure cycle for RTM6 by 30-50% based on real-time measurements of resin electrical resistance and temperature, which are converted into estimated viscosity and Tg by its Optimold data acquisition unit and Optiview software. “The manufacturer can see the Tg in real time, so they can decide when to stop the cure cycle,” explains Synthesites director Nikos Pantelelis. “They don’t have to wait to complete a longer-than-necessary legacy cycle. For example, the legacy cycle for RTM6 is 2 hours at 180°C for full cure. We’ve seen that in certain geometries this can go down to 70 minutes.”
Collo has worked with manufacturers of epoxy adhesive, paint and even beer to create a process profile for each batch produced. Each manufacturer can now see the dynamics of its process and set more optimal parameters, with alarms to enable intervention when the batch is out of spec. This helps to stabilize and improve quality.