Manufacturers can lower-cost products, increase throughput, enhance product performance, and improve quality and worker safety, resulting in immediate payback through Pre-impregnated fiber reinforcements. Prepreg composites and towering products can improve the manufacturing process if your company is into filament winding, using automated tape laying (ATL), laying up by hand, tube rolling, or compression molding. If the company is consuming millions of pounds or even the smallest amount of material, benefits are realized irrespective of anything else.
Well, many consumers say that raw fiberglass and carbon fiber look similar. If you don’t get fabrication done, you can’t see what separates the two materials, including strength, stiffness, and to a small extent, weight. If you think one is better than the other, let us give you a reality check; the two are different from each other there is no comparison in the first place. Both materials tend to have their advantages and disadvantages.
Some of the differences that you must note are:
Experts who deal in prepreg composites say that fiberglass tends to be more flexible than carbon fiber and is at least 15x less expensive. Like storage tanks, building insulation, protective helmets, and body panels that don’t require maximum stiffness, fiberglass is preferred. Also, fiberglass is used frequently in high-volume applications, where low unit cost is quite essential.
Carbon fiber panels genuinely shine when it comes to their tensile strength. As compared to raw fiber, fiberglass becomes incredibly strong when combined with the right epoxy resins. When fabricated the right way, carbon fiber is better to use than many other metals. It is the only reason why almost all the manufacturers, including the ones who manufacture airplanes and boats, embrace carbon fiber over metal and fiberglass alternatives. At a lower weight, Carbon fiber allows for greater tensile strength.
You can say that durability is all about toughness. Hence, in terms of durability, the clear winner is fiberglass. Even though almost all thermoplastic materials are comparably strong, the ability of fiberglass to stand out to greater punishment is related to its flexibility directly. As compared to fiberglass, carbon fiber is more rigid, but that rigidity also says it is not as durable.
For both the carbon fiber panels and fiberglass tubing, markets and sheets have grown dramatically over the past few years. You can say that it gets more widely used in applications. It is mainly because the quantity of fiberglass that gets manufactured is huge, drastically reducing the price.
Besides the price difference, you also need to consider that manufacturing carbon fibers is a time-consuming and challenging process. On the flip side, extruding melted glass to form fiberglass is comparably easy. All we can say that the expense increases when the process becomes complicated.
Discovering the Advantages of Prepreg Composites in Manufacturing
The fact is if carbon fiber were free, it is unlikely for the auto producers to be able to produce it even then. As the metal-stamped hoods hardly need a few seconds to manufacture, but the molding carbon fiber hoods take about a few minutes. Hence, with such a bottleneck, it becomes challenging to meet the automotive targets of production. Many companies have started to focus on the price of the prepreg by ignoring the efficiencies. Even today, curing carbon fiber composites is a lengthy process for all the automotive hoods; it is still essential to learn that efficiency has a vital role in determining the total cost of that part.
For instance, in the filament winding, the efficiency does significantly impact the factory’s overall output. During this process, as and when the winding speed picks up pace, the air gets driven into the resin bath, which creates a void, reducing the final part’s overall mechanical performance. To achieve the wetting out of the tow bundles, a relatively slow speed is required. This results in wet and stable filament winding that can achieve a speed of approximately 1 meter per second.
Towpreg or prepregged tow, comparatively run at a speed of 5 meters per second. Towpreg also helps in reducing the voids by merely eliminating the wet out of a resin bundle.
It is also essential to take a dig into the supply chain to discover further efficiency improvements. If a filament winder uses the wet processes during a standard shift of production, an operator mixes the resins, which have a pot life of about 6-8 hours, designed primarily for a shift of use. At the end of every shift, cleanup is mandatory, including washing the resins bath, cleaning the resins off the rollers, measuring the resins’ levels, taking note of the inventory, etc. During the entire setup period, operators do not indulge in the manufacturing of the products. If one hour is spent in a shift by the operator, it totals to about 250 hours lost or six weeks for an individual worker each year.
On the other hand, with the towpreg at room temperature, this is the one setup that helps in elimination. Operators start their day by placing the spools on the racks and then immediately run the product. Stable prepregs at a room temperature allow the companies to enjoy switching their machines off whenever they wish to and pick the same back after a few days from where they let off. Operators do not need to wait until the prepreg’s thawing to record temperatures and refreezing the materials. Operators here are at an advantage, as they need to grab the materials and start working. This is the time that gets recaptured in the manufacturing output.
The alternative path to prepreg efficiency is via the modification of the tackiness, and this leads to the supply
chain efficiency getting streamlined further.
Well, in conclusion, we can say that fiberglass tubing is neither better nor worse than its carbon fiber alternative. Both of them tend to have applications for which they are superior. All you need to do is about finding the right material for your needs. Hence, it would be best if you learn about the differences before using them.