Process targets large and one-shot composite parts

March 25, 2016

RocTool SA, Le Bourget du Lac, France, has demonstrated its Light Induction Tooling (LIT) thermoforming process for thermoplastic and thermoset composites. Its first exhibition of the technology, which can be used to make very large parts within short cycle times, took place at the JEC World Composites Show in early March in Paris.

The LIT process uses an autonomous clamping system instead of a press or compression molding machine, making it a more affordable option, according to the company, which is targeting the aerospace, automotive and transportation markets. The technology boasts cycle times of less than three minutes. In contrast, forming composite parts via an autoclave can require cycle times that are measured in hours.

According to the company, the benefits of the patented process include very fast heating and cooling, fast overall cycle times, repeatability, precise temperature distribution, controlled dimensional stability and low energy consumption. For the JEC World demonstration, energy use remained below 2 kilowatts per hour, with an energy cost per part of less than 15 cents, said Jose Feigenblum, RocTool chief technology officer.

With LIT, RocTool is able to reduce the thickness of nickel, steel or invar tooling, which shortens the heating and cooling times. Instead of a big block of steel, the tool is a shell. It incorporates the company's induction heating technology, and is connected to RocTool Performance cooling units. The technology also can be used to process resin formulations that are certified for use in aeronautical parts and require longer cycle times and defined heating rates.

"Making large composite parts without compression machines, with light tooling configurations and precise temperature control is a game changer," said CEO Mathieu Boulanger.

RocTool is targeting the aerospace, automotive and transportation markets for the technology, which was in development for three years. It can be used to process a wide variety of materials, including epoxy, acrylic, PP and PC and natural and recycled fibers.

RocTool provides engineering services and systems, process technology for injection molding and composites manufacturing, and heating and cooling technologies. The company's processes are used in manufacturing parts for the automotive, aerospace, consumer products and electronics industries. Its U.S. unit, RocTool Inc., is based in Charlotte, N.C.

Merle R. Snyder, senior correspondent

[email protected]


RocTool Inc.,