A composite manufacturing process for producing class A finished components
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The purpose of this study was to develop a composite manufacturing process that would be able to deliver Class A surface finished products in the context of mould manufacturing methods. The problem required solving was to overcome the time needed to prepare Class A surfaces, by developing a composite manufacturing process that will deliver Class A surface finished products straight from the mould. The process was aimed at the entire development process, from mould and plug design up to the finished product. A literature study and a factory mould survey were conducted with a view to obtain the necessary insights into surface finishing and composite manufacturing. These surveys were followed by seven constructional tests which determined the most appropriate solutions for the proposed manufacturing processes. Test 1 was used to determine a quality finish standard for composites from the sanding grits used to finished composite surfaces versus surface roughness values used in other industries. The standard determined that a P800 finish has a roughness between 0.200 and 0.150 um and constitutes a Class A3 finish. P1000 to P1200 have a roughness between 0.150 um to 0.100 um and constitutes a Class A2 finish. Finally a P2000 and higher have a roughness of 0.100 um and lower and constitutes Class A1 surface finish. After the standard was set, the tests for finishing of the moulds, plugs and parts commenced. Test 2 was conducted on the CNC manufacturing of plugs out of Nuceron651 tooling board. Tool path parameters were varied in a matrix. The samples with the best surface finish value were cut with a step-over of 0.5 and feed of 800 mm/min. These parameters were found to be the most influential. Test 2 and 4 revealed that the plug surface finishing should commence with conventional 2K paint finishing, with a possibility of acrylic split surface. This process produced projected mould surfaces between 0.150 um and 0.200 um, which can be categorised as Class A-3. Test 5 and 6 determined methods for improving the mould surface quality and durability. It was established that the tooling gelcoat should be applied whilst being heated and backed with at least two layers of glass veil and a steady increase of GSM of structural glass fibres to prevent print-through. Test 3 determined that the mould corners could be strengthened with rovings pressed into the corner. It was also established that the moulds surfaces will require finishing after demoulding. The final moulds were manufactured from a fibreglass composite structure with tooling gelcoat surface. A number of guidelines and a set process were developed in order to produce moulds with a surface finish of average 0.9 um, equivalent to Class A1. Release agents were tested in Test 7, and the Loctite Frekote 770-NC release system was deemed appropriate for use with In Mould Coating (IMC) of 2K Paint. These elements were all synthesised into plug, mould and part manufacturing processes. The proposed processes were validated by the manufacturing of a JS instrument panel, which delivered a Class A2, 0.175 um, finish with IMC of 2K paint. With only a minor sanding of P3000 grit and polishing, the part was made into a Class A1 surface, measured at 0.63 um. The study proved that it is possible to produce Class A finished part with IMC. This method can provide a solution aimed at the elimination of P600 and lower finishing of composite parts manufactured with IMC.
- Engineering