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ray, and the Chrysler SRT Viper. “I do not think anyone took carbon fiber seriously until we announced we were doing all of the exterior body panels [and closures] on the 2013 SRT Viper program,” said James Staargaard, CEO of the company. What is interesting for those monitoring CFRP are the Corvette Stingray vol- umes, expected to reach over 25,000 per year. Plasan is providing a base model hood, a premium exposed-weave roof and a painted roof in CFRP for the 2014 Chevrolet sports car.


The company invested heavily in developing a reasonably fast process for large exterior body panels, such as doors, fenders, hoods, and roofs. Pla- san uses this process for the Corvette program. The core of this system is a specially designed pressure press that optimizes an autoclave process, curing parts in 17 minutes compared to the 90 minutes needed in an autoclave. “Instead of using convection heat as in autoclave, we precisely heat the surface of a nickel-shell tool. This provides instantaneous heat transfer, to bring the resin to flow temperature, then to cure temperature, then we cool it rapidly,” said Staargaard. Weber Manufacturing (Midland, ON) supplies the nickel-shell tool.


In the Plasan process, unidirection- al prepreg is cut and layered in a kit- ting process, trimmed, and then laid on the nickel-shell tool. They use thermo- set prepreg sheets provided by Toray Composites America Inc. said Staar- gaard. A flexible, elastomer, formed top tool is then placed over the CFRP. The part plus tooling is placed inside the press chamber and a vacuum pulled while moderate pressure is applied to the flexible top during the heating and cooling cycle. The part is then finished and primed before shipping to the as- sembly plant.


“What our team, led by Gary Lownsdale our R&D direc-


tor, figured out is that curing an epoxy follows a nonlinear curve,” Staargaard said. Lownsdale used Design of Experi- ments in a years’ long quest to map out that curve to guide


CRITERION ALLIED, INC.


Allied Machine and Engineering Corp. The Hole Solution.


www.alliedmachine.com Allied Machine & Engineering Corp. is Registered by U.L. to ISO 9001:2008 September 2013 | ManufacturingEngineeringMedia.com 87


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