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ACRC: Facilities and Equipment

The Automotive Composites Research Centre houses state-of-the-art composite manufacturing equipment to enable research into process development and demonstration of all stages of the automated manufacturing process. In addition the ACRC has dedicated composite testing and characterisation facilities.

The Centre's facilities are undergoing continued investment and upgrade including the addition of a Preform Forming Station in 2015.

Delivery and construction of ACRC Composites Press

 


Engel v-Duo 1700 tonne multi-functional press

WMG focuses its research on developing composite manufacturing processes for high-volume automotive applications to support low carbon automotive initiatives. The 1700 tonne Engel v-Duo press enables development, demonstration and testing of full-size automotive components using a range of composite materials and manufacturing processes.

Composites PressCapability

The machine features a useable platen size of 2.2m by 1.8m and offers flexibility to manufacture parts using different materials and processes such as pre-preg compression moulding, SMC compression moulding, thermoplastic composite stamp forming and high-pressure resin transfer moulding, including gap / compression HP-RTM. During compression moulding processes complex geometry parts can be manufactured under controlled conditions. In SMC processes, for example, the press adjusts the displacement at each tiebar to ensure a controlled and even part thickness. As the resin cures the press continues to adjust its position to maintain an even part thickness.

Technical Specification

  • 2.2m x 1.8m useable platen area
  • Active parallelism control during compression
  • 5-stage speed control during compression
  • 5-stage pressure control during compression
  • Up to 800mm/s closing; 580mm/s opening; 20mm/s compression
  • Sliding lower platen
  • All press functions instrumented

Composites Press



Resin Injection - Hennecke Streamline 65 Resin Metering Machine

Hennecke's Streamline machine system is a fully automated processing system for all common matrix systems used in HP-RTM liquid moulding processes such as polyurethane and epoxy resin thermoset systems, or polyamide 6 thermoplastic systems (cast nylon). It also has the capability to add a third stream containing internal release agent. The system is integrated with WMG's Engel v-Duo press to provide added flexibility and to be adapted to the individual production needs. The equipment has the capability to record and report all machine parameters during the re-circulation and injection cycles.

Technical Specification

  • 3+1 : (resin / polyol) / hardener / isocyanate + release
  • 60 litre day tank capacity x 3
  • Flow rate is a function of mix ratio and nozzle dia but could vary from 0.036 - 0.069 l/s with the current pressure balanced nozzles. Flow rates up to 1.0 l/s could be achieved.
Resin Injection



Plaque Mould

The plaque mould is mounted within WMG’s Engel v-Duo press to provide a means to study composite manufacturing processes using a simple part geometry. The plaque mould is used to study flow of short fibre materials in compression moulding processes and resin flow in HP-RTM processes using a number of in-cavity mounted pressure transducers.

Flow progression can also be tracked using in-cavity thermocouples but their primary use is for tracking resin exotherm during cure. In-cavity cure sensors and an in-mould mounted heat flux sensor provide additional information regarding the cure process. Prepreg Compression Moulding (PCM) can also be carried out in the mould cavity, which is infinitely variable to produce components between 1mm and 4mm thick.

Technical Specification

  • Plaque Mould550 x 550 mm, 1-4mm cavity with shear edge
  • Cavity seal, vacuum seal, ejectors
  • Cavity evacuated during closure
  • In-cavity sensors
  • Pressure; Temperature; Cure
  • In-mould sensors Temperature; Heat flux
  • Processing flexibility
  • PCM, SMC, HP-RTM, HP-CRTM
  • Centre and edge gated (RTM)

CNC Fabric Cutting Table

Fabric Cutting TableThe Zund CNC cutting table enables automated cutting functions on a range of materials including glass, carbon and aramid fibres. The conveyor system permits continuous cutting of rolled materials or multiple plies.

  • 1.2m + 1.2m conveyorised bed x 1.8m wide
  • 1.4m/s maximum cutting speed
  • Stationary, roller, oscillating and ultrasonic cutting knives
  • Suitable for cutting glass, carbon and aramid fibres; dry or impregnated; thermoset or thermoplastic



Ply Pick and Place Assembly Cell

Pick and Place Assembly CellThe ABB automated assembly cell picks up, assembles and joins materials of up to 8 layers ensuring accurate placement and joining.

  • Picking, assembly, joining
  • Up to 8 layers stored in horizontal drawers with automatic actuation
  • 4-axis robot used to pick and place individual layers with a range of end effectors
  • Ply assembly/joining cell with various joining methods
  • Assembly transfer conveyor

Composite Material Freezer Storage

A controlled composites storage freezer is specifically engineered to meet storage requirements for composite materials such as prepreg. The 8m3 walk-in freezer can store materials to -18oc for extended shelf life.