Eclipse Composites Engineering Inc. has developed a proprietary composite stamping process as a novel solution to increasing demand for high volume, tightly toleranced composites structures.
Several years in development, ECE recently unveiled a composite segmented manpack antenna made with an innovative composite stamping process, meeting all the requirements of traditional composite products but with reduced cycle times. The carbon fiber structure was cured in a hydraulic press as an out-of-autoclave and out-of-oven alternative to traditionally equipment-laden processes.
“Frustrated with the lengthy cycle times seen in advance composites, our customers kept asking why we couldn’t simply stamp-out parts like traditional metal processes. That got us thinking,” said Karl Hawes, general manager of Eclipse. “With lots of effort from our engineering staff and critical suppliers, we were able to develop a fast cure process that doesn’t compromise the structural integrity of the product. A culture of thinking big and challenging the norm is key to our success. We push the limits of what’s possible.”
The process uses long-fiber reinforcements, traditional woven fabrics such as plain weave and twill styles but can be adapted to almost any reinforcement material which can be prepregged. Ply kits are inserted into an open mold at full part thickness and press cured to shape in a process that looks a lot like traditional metal stamping. The process results in fast cycle times with improved mechanical properties and thickness repeatability not seen with traditional short fiber compression molding. The process has been proven with carbon fiber reinforcement but can be used with glass reinforcement as well. Read more….