Thermoplastic composites: novelties for improved production

They meet with unanimous praise from designers and producers of innovative products in the industrial world. 'They' are thermoplastic composites, the qualities of which are convincing... And now facing a new challenge: how to implement these composites faster and at the lowest cost? Explanation below.

Recyclable, eco-friendly, weldable and with improved shock resistance: thermoplastic (TP) composites offer a number of plus points... and have already convinced in many industrial sectors! Sirris has been taking a closer look at them over recent years with the specific ambition to reduce the duration and the cost of their consolidation cycle.

The 400°C drying oven: a first for Belgium

If you too are concerned, we have good news for you: Sirris has just invested in a 400°C drying oven, a new machine capable of taking on the challenge of the consolidation cycle. 

Similar to Sirris' autoclave, the 400°C drying oven guarantees efficient TP composite development, whilst offering reduced production cost and less complex use. Here is how the machine, unique to Belgium, works.

Advantages for both size and speed

Thanks to its high volume, the drying oven can house larger parts. And that means that this technology is of particular interest in a number of sectors: transport, building, architecture, aeronautical, automotive, naval and rail industries, etc.

A further advantage of the 400°C drying oven? Its capacity to accelerate the consolidation process, by separating vacuum and temperature management. In a nutshell, an ad hoc machine places the part to be produced in a bag which is then vacuum-closed outside of the oven.  The bag is then placed inside the preheated oven and the ad hoc machine continues to control the vacuum. So what about the cooling phase? The tooling is removed from the drying oven, whilst maintaining the vacuum state inside the bag. The oven remains warm and therefore ready to process the following cycle.

As for the 400°C, this is the maximum cycle temperature at which a very large range of TP composite parts can be processed. It is worthy of note that this oven can also process thermosetting components.

The 400°C drying oven in 4 features

Here are the oven's key characteristics:

  • 1,500 litre interior volume (250 litres for the autoclave)
  • cycle time - a few minutes (a few hours for a classical TP composite cycle)
  • significant decrease in energy consumption (thanks to one heating operation for several cycles due to the separate temperature and vacuuming management. Auxiliary heating is sufficient between each cycle)
  • processing of the most highly developed technical polymers such as PPS, PEI and PEEK

At Sirris, we help businesses find the right solutions for their technical issues. This is, once more, the case with this new tool, but also thanks to our specialised, tried and tested expertise in thermoplastics. The 400°C drying oven is part of Sirris' Product Development Hub, which you can discover here!