Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has awarded Beckwood Press Company a contract to manufacture a custom hydraulic press for the compression molding of various composite materials.

According to the organisation, the press will help it research automotive and aerospace industry lightweighting and help produce higher performance products with improved fuel efficiency. Scheduled for completion in September 2015, the 100-ton custom press will feature a 36 inch x36 inch  work area and integrated multiple zone heated platens for precision temperature control.

As well as the custom hydraulic press, ORNL will install a Triform Model 16-5BD Fluid Cell sheet hydroforming system also manufactured by Beckwood, which features 5000 PSI of maximum forming pressure and a 16 inch diameter forming area. The Triform 16-5BD allows for the formation of complex geometries with the use of a pressurized diaphragm, which can be programmed to apply a range of forming pressures to accommodate the various materials being formed. The Triform process includes the ability to maintain pressure on the part for extended periods of time and can be used with inexpensive tooling (including 3D printed tooling).

Efficient manufacturing

‘It is our goal to make this lab the intersection of our 3D printing capabilities and composites processing,’ said Jesse Smith, manager of industrial partnerships & economic development science & technology partnerships at ORNL.

The Beckwood machines will be used at ORNL by the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI). Led by the University of Tennessee and heaquartered in Knoxville, the IACMI’s main goal is to develop efficient manufacturing and recycling process technologies and focus on lowering the overall manufacturing costs of advanced composites by 50%, reducing the energy used to make composites by 75%, and increasing the ability to recycle composites by more than 95% within the next decade. 

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

ORNL has commissioned a press from Beckwood to improve composite processing.
ORNL has commissioned a press from Beckwood to improve composite processing.