Carbon fibre epoxy composites offer high strength combined with light weight. The bare composites are also aesthetically pleasing. These qualities make carbon fibre epoxy ideal for a variety of uses.

CRC supplies an excellent range of internal and external release agents specific to epoxy. We work collaboratively with clients, often from the very start of their project, to ensure the most effective and cost-efficient solution is developed for their needs.

The requirement

The lightness of carbon fibre was an important factor for the world leaders in camera support equipment when producing a camera tripod that could easily be carried by photographers. We were asked to develop a chemical release solution for a closed cell epoxy high volume RTM production process for the tripod.

Once moulded the part is de-flashed, a jointing mechanism is fitted, the tripod assembled, and adhesive stickers applied before packing. A solution was therefore needed that would produce an identical part with a perfect surface every time.

The challenge

With high temperatures and the entire operation being in a robotised closed cell, there were limited options that would consistently achieve the perfect surface finish required.

Our solution

We were fortunate to be a part of the team from the start of the project and rapidly identified that an internal mould release agent (IMR) was the only route to follow as mould access is not possible during production.

Epoxy resins are very sensitive to additives, and as such we knew that the IMR would need to be injected with the resin and catalyst in a 3K (3 component) injection head.

How we did it

Being a part of the original consultation team meant we were able to influence the machinery choice at an early enough stage in the project. It allowed us to ensure not only that the parts released consistently, but by instituting a mould maintenance programme which did not disrupt production, the process could run to maximum capacity.

Further, although having an IMR present, our solution meant there was no reduction in the physical properties of the tripod, weathering was unaffected, there were no surface residues, and due to the unique chemistry even if the part were to be lacquered no special treatment would be needed.

This was an interesting and challenging project to work on, and we were proud to be included in the development team.

Find out more about our release agents and IMRs here.