Toray has developed a carbon fiber resin impregnated sheet (UACS, Unidirectionally Arrayed Chopped Strands) with excellent mechanical properties and formability. The tensile strength is about 80% or more of the UD prepreg (carbon fiber unidirectionally arranged and least impregnated with resin). In terms of impact resistance, the cantilever notch impact strength of this UACS is about 80% of that of the UD prepreg, and that of the vertical impact flat plate is about 90% of the UD prepreg. Furthermore, it is possible to form a complicated three-dimensional shape that is difficult to achieve when using a UD prepreg.
When UD prepreg is used, if the shape of the molded product is complex, the fibers in the corners will extend or expand, causing the shape of the plate not to follow the shape of the mold, causing wrinkles, voids, and resin-rich areas. Toray's newly developed UACS is achieved by periodically adding mm-length cuts to this UD prepreg. In this way, the sheet material extends in a direction parallel to the incision and expands in a direction perpendicular to the incision, thereby improving shape followability (formability) of the sheet material without sacrificing mechanical properties as much as possible. In addition, according to Toray, the mechanical properties can be adjusted by changing the angles, lengths, and intervals that correspond to the direction of the incision fiber. In addition, similar to the UD prepreg, the UACS sheet can be made isotropic by laminating layers having different fiber directions.
Toray said that using this UACS, it is possible to use a flat plate to form a cornered plate. When a UD prepreg is used to produce this shape, the fiber stack structure cannot be well achieved at the corners, whereas with UACS, the fiber stack structure can be well achieved. In addition, tri-cornered corners and deep-drawn shapes can also be formed using flat plates.
As for the application of automotive parts, Toray said, â€œThe UACS has strong mechanical properties and can be applied to skeletal components such as floors. It can also be applied to door trims, interior panels of trunk lids, and skylights." In addition, Toray also has a rapid curing prepreg technology with a stamping cycle of only about 3 minutes. Based on this prepreg, UACS that can be molded in the same cycle can be realized. Toray has not announced the cost of UACS, but only stated that "it only adds incisions to the prepreg manufacturing process, so the cost will not increase much."
Toray aims to put UACS into practical use after 2 to 3 years. In the future, a mass production technology capable of continuously stably forming a desired incision pattern will be established. (Reporter: Tomihiro Miooka, "Nikkei Manufacturing")
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