Short and long fibres combined in a reinforced preform

Short and long fibres combined in a reinforced preform

Shape has successfully pressed the first batch of parts that combine short fibre Sheet Moulding Compound (SMC) over an optimised, reinforced, long fibre carbon ShapeTex preform.

Shape Machining Ltd’s Managing Director, Peter McCool, said “We currently cannot announce the customer we are working with on this demonstration project. But it’s an exciting development. We use the continuous fibre of the ShapeTex preform as the structural backing on to which we consolidate a short fibre laminate that can flow and fill the mould cavity more easily.”

The ShapeTex preform uses a continuous tow of carbon fibre that gives significant strength to the finished part.

McCool continued “The potential of this technology is quite significant. We have been working on this combination for quite a while now and feel that now is the time to bring it to market.

We have several customers that like the aesthetic look of the SMC and the ability to press and cure parts with channels, ribs, fixing bosses means that we can incorporate features into a single composite part that would otherwise require several operations and multiple parts.

This process has been developed using epoxy thermoset resins and offers closed moulded parts with optimised strength using approved resin systems.”

Although these trials were conducted in a flat mould the process lends itself equally to complex and double curvature parts. Shape is targeting high volume applications in the automotive and sports equipment market with this process.

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SHAPE Machining specialises in machining metallic tools, epoxy tooling block patterns, Rohacell foams and the trimming of carbon fibre parts for the automotive, motorsport and aerospace industry.

SHAPE Engineering offers a full range of design, analysis and project management services to support composite part and tool manufacturing projects.

SHAPE Composites supplies thermoset and thermoplastic composite preforms and parts ranging from bespoke autoclave cured carbon parts to larger volumes of hot pressed formed carbon parts.

ShapeTex – Optimised carbon fibre preform design & manufacture

(image of a combined short and long carbon fibre part developed at Shape’s R&D facility)