R3 Composites Inc, a US custom compression molder and compounder of sheet-molding compound (SMC) and its wholly owned subsidiary, Carver Non-Woven Technologies LLC, which supplies single and multi-material nonwoven products, are both in the process of expanding.

Carver, which only began commercial production in July, is now beginning its Phase 2 installation work and expects that to be completed by the end of October. The new work involves adding three additional opening lines for a total of six. The company also will add an additional blending line, another cross-lapper, and an additional card. Once installation of the second opening and blending lines is complete, Carver's production volume for nonwovens will increase to nearly 3,000 kg per hour. Additionally, the new equipment will enable Carver researchers to expand their developmental work on hybrid nonwovens, by adding more synthetic fibers to the mix as well as carbon fiber, including compound development for applications where higher impact strength, acoustical damping, heat-deflection temperature, and structural requirements are needed in a single application. The second line allows for construction of a single web incorporating up to six different fiber types in two different layers that will subsequently be combined into a single finished, needled product.

Custom blend

Carver is reportedly the first commercial nonwovens manufacturer in the world to install a line designed to run blends with up to 80% carbon fiber content. With this capability, the company already has begun discussions with commercial aircraft manufacturers about developing nonwoven carbon fiber blends for aircraft interior components that contain both virgin and recycled carbon fiber. Carver has also begun development with an automaker on a custom blend containing carbon fiber for lightweight door trim panels.

With R3, the company is opening a new shared testing laboratory at the Carver location. ‘We now can do our own fogging, moisture, burn and E84 simulation tests, as well as mechanical testing in-house following A2LA procedural rules,’ adds Glidden. ‘We used to have to send our samples out to external services and wait. Now we can work much more efficiently and respond to customer requests a lot faster.’

This story is reprinted from material from R3with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.