Tooling Development for Thermoplastic Composites Thermoforming Process Based on FEM Analysis – a Rib Case Study

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Remarkable characteristics of high temperature thermoplastic (HTP) matrix used in composite materials reinforced with continuous fibres causes growing application in composite industry. Because of high processing temperature of some semi, crystalline matrix there is limited number of technologies that can be used for part manufacturing. Press forming is an example of technology that allows manufacturing high quality complex parts made of HTP reinforced fibres composite. In order to manufacture part with acceptable quality and mechanical properties, uniform pressure distribution during the process is required.

In this article, tooling design process focused on uniform pressure distribution for manufacturing of supporting rib was presented. In order to satisfy this requirement, the rubber stamp was proposed as a tool for manufacturing. Typical press forming process defects were identified and the requirements for rubber stamp were described. It was assumed that the forming process has to begin at one point on mould surface and sequentially continue in all directions. For stamp material, the two components additive silicone was selected. The hardness of the silicone was equal 40 Shore A. The rubber mechanical properties was determined through the additional tests and used for stamp designing. The tooling was designed using FEM software ABAQUS 6.12.

The sequence of stamp shape designing and optimization in order to meet the stamp requirements was presented. At the end the FEM rubber stamp designing recommendation were presented.

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