Carbon Fiber Molding Process: What Are the Different Types?

molding process

Projections show that the global carbon fiber market will reach a size of $8.9 billion by 2031.

Carbon fiber has one of the best strength-to-weight ratios of any material, making it ideal for a range of applications. There are various molding processes available, and they all provide different results. Picking the best molding process for you will depend on your needs.

For a rundown of the different carbon fiber manufacturing processes, keep reading.

Spray Forming

For this fabrication process, fibers are chopped and mixed with resin in a spray gun. It’s then sprayed onto a mold, pressed using a rubber roller, and solidified. This is ideal for making the transition layer of various parts but isn’t suitable for mass production.

Filament Winding

This involves winding fiber or cloth tape to a mandrel. Resin glue is added, and the part is then cured. This method is often used to form cylindrical, spherical, or curved parts.

Liquid Forming

Liquid forming is one of the fastest carbon fiber molding techniques. It synthesizes liquid molecules into a polymer and changes the polymer curing reaction into the composite material. It’s energy-efficient, cost-effective, and reduces the production cycle.

This method is still advancing and isn’t currently widely used.

Compression Molding

For this method, the fiber is placed between two molds. A hydraulic molding table, along with high pressure and temperature, forms and cures the part. This is one of the most efficient types of carbon fiber molding. It’s also accurate, cost-effective, and creates high-quality parts.

Injection Molding

With relatively new technology, the process streamlines with one-step processes, making it very efficient. It’s also one of the best techniques for making automobile parts. The final product from this process is lightweight and strong, and it’s generally cheap to perform.

Hand Lay-Up

For this process, an operator will lay the fiber down on a mold and apply the resin using a brush or spray. While still widely used, this method generally provides low-strength parts with a loose texture. It’s also inefficient in comparison to other methods.

Vacuum Autoclave

Carbon fiber lays on the mold, and vacuum induction creates negative pressure, pressing resin into the fiber. Parts have high strength and low weight. The quality isn’t the best but is still suitable for most applications.

3iTech Induction Heating

This is one of the newest carbon fiber manufacturing methods available. The mold has an integrated inductor to generate heat. The carbon fiber mold rapidly heats, which reduces the cycle time while remaining cost-effective.

This method is currently only ideal for smaller parts but is still advancing.

Choosing the Right Molding Process

With all the different molding process options above, as well as several others, it can be hard to know which is right for a given application. SMI Composites is a leading composite material manufacturer. With our expertise in the industry, we can help determine which method is most suitable to fit your needs.

So, to find out more, click here to contact us today.

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