Molding Technology Slashes Processing Time and Costs
A breakthrough development by General Magnaplate Corporation in layup-molding technology promises to deliver considerable time reductions and cost savings for fabricators of parts constructed from composite materials.
Edmund V. Aversenti, General Magnaplate's President, reports that his company's CMPT® process reduces the total time needed to make large all-metal lay-up molds for complex reinforced composites from the current six-to-twelve month period to as little as six weeks, while also slashing tooling capital investment by one-third.
Says Aversenti, "Tools manufactured by General Magnaplate with the CMPT process reproduce fine pattern detail, with dimensionally stability, and the process is consistent with traditional EDM finished tooling. CMPT represents a quantum leap in the composite fabrication industry, making it possible to drastically lower the final cost for many molded, complex-shaped parts, especially those with contours. Such contoured composite parts are used in applications as diverse as Stealth bombers and refrigerator doors."
CMPT is a dense, multi-directional, all-metal-weaving process which eliminates the need to machine layup-molds out of large, heavy metal ingots or castings that require so much time to fabricate. It combines the accuracy, precision, and good surface quality previously available only after machining. It enables high-temperature tooling for long or short production runs for cures up to 750° F. The toolface can be made from any alloy, from aluminum to zinc, including high nickel INVAR.
Aversenti continues, "Depending on the size of the tool face (Magnaplate currently has the capacity to make tool faces up to 12-feet square) this robotically controlled process can take from a few hours to several days. When completed, the tool face is ready for use after being positioned on a flex-contour holding table for stability."
"The shorter lead times lower costs of CMPT will permit more frequent model changes by larger companies as they quickly adjust designs to consumer tastes. A customized tool-leasing program being developed allows smaller companies to board the "composite express" by manufacturing and selling complex shapes without making major capital investments and without long lead times between concepts and salable products."