Composite Tooling

Acrolab supports the composite tooling industry with multiple products and services. Depending on what type of process you are running, thermal challenges can have a significant impact on the outcome of the final product. If you do not have a consistent and uniform cure your final product will be jeopardized. Acrolab can supply complete thermal system solutions to run your tooling and will work with your team on the thermal management of your composite tooling system and application.

Acrolab Composite Tooling Application Process

  • Review Current Tool Design or Current Build for Solution Feasibility
  • Recommend Key Thermal Components and/or system(s) (Heaters, Isobars, etc.)
  • Technology Feasibility Review
  • Technology And Solution Design
  • Client Approval
  • Design And Development
  • Execute: Design, Build, Test
  • Deliver & Support

What Can We Offer For Your Composite Application?

  • You can choose one or all of the products/services below to suit your needs.
    • Heating & cooling system design
    • Thermal tooling review
    • Heaters: cartridge heaters, strip heaters, split heaters, channel heaters
    • Temperature sensors: thermocouples and RTDs
    • Isobar heat pipes (thermal pins): rapid heat movement
    • Temperature uniformity: Isobar heat pipes to create thermal uniformity
    • Tool insulation: mold insulation board
    • Platens: heated/cooled platens or heated/cooled Isoplatens
    • Schematics: electrical tool schematics and layout
    • Electrical box: tool junction boxes
    • Temperature control: controllers of all types
    • Install: turn key install of our components and system

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Composite Tooling Application Thermal Challenges

  • Requirements To Heat & Cool Tooling
  • Calculating Heating & Cooling Energy Requirements
  • Different Technologies Available
  • RTD and TC Placement(s)
  • Multi Piece Tooling / Floating Mandrels
  • Non Isothermal Conditions
  • Moving thermal energy to and from the parting surface
  • Uneven curing
  • Runaway heat during resin cross link phase
  • Odd shaped part geometries
  • Thermal response during ramp phases
  • Pressure to quicken cycle times
  • Part sizes
  • Inconsistent part thickness
  • Decision to heat the tool or the press platen(s)

Composite Goalie Mask Tooling

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Runaway Heat

Many composite parts require thermoset resins and once these resins are heated and start to “kick over” they create massive amounts of heat. The key to solving current or anticipated heat issues during resin cross-linking is to have a more responsive tool. This can be achieved in a number of ways. The most typical is to use a tooling material that is more thermally conductive, such as aluminum. While in some cases this does solve the problem, in many cases it does not.

  • To combat any thermoset heat issues that can cause over curing of your part we highly recommend targeting specific areas of concern using Acrolab Isobars.
  • Acrolab Isobars can be designed into new or existing tooling to target specific areas that over heat and remove the heat passively.
  • In many cases a few Isobars can be utilized, in the tool down the length of a part, turning your tool into a responsive tool. What this means is when hot or cold spots occur the Isobar within your tool will automatically compensate to remove these thermal problems.
  • When implementing this type of solution into your tooling, you are not only solving hot and cold spot issues, you are also creating a more thermally uniform tool.

Composite Centrifuge Tooling

Moving Thermal Energy To & From The Part Surface

The key to solving these issues is to implement additional heating/cooling or to utilize energy that already exists.

  • Sometimes part features require additional heating or cooling. These features typically cause curing issues because of a deep part feature. These types of features are typically more problematic in autoclave curing processes.
  • Acrolab’s Isobar technology can be implemented into your tool to drive heat to the problem area. This can be achieved by utilizing autoclave excess environmental energy or to simply add an electric band heater to the Isobar heat pipe.
  • This type of Isobar technology has been utilized in thousands of tools from simple panel designs to full fuselage tools.
  • Do you have a floating mandrel in a RTM tool? Acrolab Isobars can bring more heat to the part surface when installed into the mandrel.

Composite Fuselage Tooling

Requirements To Heat & Cool Tooling

Some processing specifications require a maximum temperature differential during heating and cooling cycles. The way to achieve these requirements is with a properly designed heating and cooling system, specific to your application.

  • In cases where thermal uniformity and dynamic heat transfer are key, you should consider using Acrolab Isobars.
  • Acrolab can calculate, design, supply, and install a heating and cooling system that is tailored to your composite application needs.
  • Many clients contact us after receiving a request for proposal that requires a specific heating and cooling cycle.

Composite Hockey Stick Tooling