Acrolab has an extensive database of custom products to serve almost any industrial application. Our team of specialists will assist with challenges and opportunities with almost any molding application. A recent example was in developing a multi-zone split heater (3 zones) capable of operating at a temperature of 700°C. This style of heater was not available from any of the existing heater manufacturers. Our detailed knowledge and experience in molding applications, coupled with our experience in heater design and capabilities was critical to the development of this new product.
The application was a composite molding process for an automotive parts manufacturer. Acrolab’s engineering team knew that the maximum operating temperature required for the heater would be a limitation with this new design. After a detailed design review and consultation with several heater manufacturers, prototypes were built and the heaters were tested and validated. We confirmed that the multi-zone design could be manufactured and that it was effective with respect to wattage distribution, with some limitations to overall operating temperature.
Acrolab has consistently demonstrated over the years the ability to provide custom products to industry. There are several instances where Acrolab has received product designs and developed the manufacturing process to satisfy the production demands of our customers. Custom Isobar heat pipes are an example of one of the products that we have provided to clients over the years. In some cases these have been developed through close interaction with the customer including R&D support and prototype builds to optimize performance.
The custom Isobar heat pipes used in the remote power generator industry highlights Acrolab’s ingenuity and capabilities in product development and manufacturing processes that give our customers the confidence and reliability in both meeting quality assurance requirements as well as their annual production demands.
As a thermal solutions company, Acrolab has developed several capabilities over the years in support of industrial applications. With our in-house team of designers and engineers we can evaluate, consult and further develop existing components and products used in thermal related applications. In many cases these products have been designed and proven in the field and can now be outsourced for manufacture. Acrolab has several custom products that are build-to-print assemblies where we have become a preferred supplier based on our thorough understanding of thermal management concepts and manufacturing know-how. This gives our customers the confidence that we are capable of transitioning the build of their assemblies from in-house to our floor, providing reliable and repeatable processes that meet performance and quality standards.
This custom heat exchanger for variable output electronic ballast enclosures is an example of Acrolab’s capabilities. This is a liquid-cooled heat exchanger assembly that requires rigorous in-process manufacturing controls and industry standards certification. All custom built products are fully managed from the purchasing of the raw materials, the sources for machining and other special processes, as well as the certification standards that must be applied to the final assemblies.
Acrolab has participated in various aerospace projects, with some of the more challenging being those geared towards processing of composite parts using both autoclave and out-of-autoclave curing methodologies. The applications range from small structural and cosmetic parts, to large tooling platforms requiring specially integrated solutions that break through traditional barriers of energy transfer and distribution inside the tooling platform. This allows for new processes to be developed and scaled.
An example of an out-of-autoclave solution was a rapid-heat/rapid-cool molding platform that could be used concurrently in the composite parts production line for one of our customers. Due to the relatively small size of the part, they wanted to process the parts out-of-autoclave to limit the use of the autoclave for larger parts, saving both time and energy costs in the process.
The integration of Acrolab’s Engineered Heat Transfer systems with some other unique additions to the process enabled the customer to develop an out-of-autoclave curing strategy based on part size and processing requirements that provided both flexibility and cost savings throughout their overall production process.
With the adoption of aluminum and composites for light-weight automobiles, Acrolab has engaged in numerous R&D projects focused on increasing manufacturing volumes for composite automotive parts and ensuring reliability and repeatability of the curing process. Acrolab has witnessed first-hand the continued decline in pricing for commercial carbon fiber for several years. The pursuit to reduce the cost of carbon-fiber materials must be matched with effective and efficient production processes that reinforce the potential for carbon-fiber to become a choice material for automotive parts.
An example of the progress made in automotive parts research for structural components is our custom Isomandrel product that was used to develop more efficient and optimal filament wound support structures. With the ability to provide more rapid and uniform energy distribution inside the mandrel(s), these structural parts could be manufactured more quickly, with less scrap and a commensurate decrease in overall energy consumption.
CHALLENGE: To develop a pizza oven waste energy recovery (POWER) system that would capture waste heat (thermal energy) and convert it to electricity for in-store operations.
APPLICATION: Waste Heat Recovery & Energy Generation.
SOLUTION: An important element in one of the thermal management options of this waste heat recovery system was Isobar® heat pipes. The waste heat energy would be captured by the Isobar heat pipe(s) and transferred to the thermoelectric generator (TEG) to convert it to electricity. This could then be used in-store to meet lighting, point-of-sale terminals, hot water and other heating needs.
To make the process more efficient, the customer requested that we design and implement Isobar heat pipes to absorb the heat energy and effectively transfer it over the tool surface.
Acrolab’s patented Isomandrel®, when used in conjunction with induction heating, permits the filament winding system to rotate while heating to achieve a uniformed cure, structured uniformity, and superior control over the fiber placement.
When the wet winding method is deployed, the fiber picks up resin in one of two ways.
When the dry winding method is deployed, the reinforcement is in the pre-impregnated form, or, what is referred to as pre-preg.
After the mandrel is covered to the desired thickness, it is then placed into an oven to cure. The end result is a hollow (tube) finished product (or in some cases, the mandrel becomes part of the component.)
Filament winding is an automated process in which fiber rovings are pulled from large spools through a resinous polymeric material (ex. Epoxy) and wound around the Isomandrel®. In the case of tubular composite fiber structures, the Isomandrel® maintains continuous tension in the filament winding machine and a carriage containing the fiber spools and resin matrix travels back and forth along the length of the mandrel.
After the application of the composite material, a special non-stick plastic film is applied. This film provides additional compaction to the composite matrix to ensure wet-out and consolidation and can be easily removed after the completion of the curing process. The mandrel will then be placed into a computer-controlled oven to harden the polymeric resin, solidifying the composite material. After the monitored cure, the wound composite part will be mechanically extracted from the mandrel tooling and is ready to be processed.