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Production of FRP components without release agents
Date:11/13/2012

o strike out in a new direction. "We wanted to make the process available for big components too, for instance in aircraft manufacturing, by means of an appropriate release film," says Dipl.-Ing. Gregor Gral, FFM project manager. While release films are already commercially available, they are very stiff. This means they cannot be deep drawn and are suited only to simple mold contours. The IFAM scientists, on the other hand, are using a film that while tough also demonstrates up to 300 percent elasticity. What's more, at less than 0.1 millimeters it is extremely thin. "That means it can also be applied to curved or structured surfaces without creasing," says Gral.

The challenge that had to be overcome was how to get the coating to stick to the film. "We developed a plasma process which relaxes the release layer. Put another way, the layer enters a state of equilibrium as soon as the plasma is turned off and no more highly reactive particles are formed, and the molecules it contains then organize themselves such that the surface no longer exhibits any reactive groups," explains Ott. As a result, the resin of the composite part does not bond with the release layer, but the release layer bonds very well with the film not detaching even when subjected to forces such as extreme stretching. In contrast to the films available to date, this new film leaves no residues of release agents on FRP components. "We are using what amounts to a new class of materials that, by virtue of their chemical structure, are harder than classic polymers," says Ott.

This film, known as FlexPLAS, has already demonstrated that it can cope with real-life production demands in the FFM development hall. It is currently being tested by a number of customers.

Matthias Ott and his colleague Gregor Gral were honored by Germany's Federation of Reinforced Plastics (AVK), an industry body, with an AVK Innovation Award 2012 for their scientific work. Taking first place in the
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Contact: Matthias Ott
matthias.ott@ifam.fraunhofer.de
49-421-224-6495
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert  

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