Honda uses Mcor’s Technology for functional CFRP Moulds!
For any technology the real proof of the pudding is in the eating so to speak – sometimes it’s only when customers experience your technology and find new ways to use and apply it that the magic happens. So when Honda told us recently about some of the applications they had for paper based 3D printing we were delighted to see them pushing the real capabilities of our technology!
It turns out that Honda have been using our technology for functional Carbon Fibre Reinforced Polymer (CFRP)moulds. CFRP is an extremely strong and light fibre-reinforced plastic which contains carbon fibres. CFRPs can be expensive to produce but are commonly used wherever high strength-to-weight ratio and rigidity are required, such as aerospace, automotive, civil engineering, sports goods and an increasing number of other consumer and technical applications.
CFRPs are extensively used in high-end automobile racing. It is an expensive process but this is mitigated by the low weight of the material and the strength-to-weight ratio, essential for high-performance automobile racing. Composite fabrication processes like CFRPs involve some form of moulding, to shape the resin and reinforcement. A mould tool is required to give the unformed fibre combination its shape prior to and during cure. Honda have traditionally used CNC methods to produce the moulds but this is expensive and labour intensive.
So this is where our 3D printing technology comes in. The mould is printed on our technology in the 3D shape required. The model is then covered with a release agent and the carbon fibre formed over this. The model is then placed in an autoclave which cures composites with heat (135 degrees Celsius) and pressure (0.5Mpa) for two hours.
Step 1: Mould printed on Mcor’s technology Step 2: CFRP formed over mould and placed in autoclave Step 3: Final CFRP part
Obviously using paper based 3D printed models as the moulds for this process reduces the cost of producing CFRPs considerably – in fact it is ten times cheaper than moulds produced using CNC methods! And as a result it might even pave the way for their use in mass produced cars not just in low volume manufacturing in the automotive industry.
Paper based 3D printing is often underestimated in terms of its versatility in functional applications – this example really dispels any myths around the fact that paper is a less capable material than plastic in an application such as CFRPs.
Honda also informed us that there was no difference in using our technology and plastic 3D printed material in their wind tunnel testing. They also found that toughness is higher in our parts when compared with stereo lithography and about one tenth the cost to produce.
Super-GT aero parts used in wind tunnel testing
Mock wing mirror prototype used in wind tunnel testing
Other benefits of paper 3D printing worth mentioning here is the dimensional accuracy which is 100 microns. Our parts are also dimensionally stable, they do not warp or cure like UV based models. Another clearly desirable feature is the smooth surface finish that can be achieved as our models can be sanded like wood. See further information about the characteristics of 3D paper printing here (http://www.eurekamagazine.co.uk/design-engineering-blogs/guest-blog-it-is-paper-jim-but-not-as-we-know-it/146878/).
This application really exemplifies the benefits of our tech for functional applications. So when you think paper 3D printing don’t under-estimate the types of applications it could be suitable for and don’t just take it from me, take it from Honda!