6th November 2017, Renens, Switzerland: North Thin Ply Technology (NTPT™), a world leader in lightweight prepreg materials has recently begun an exciting new collaboration with 4a manufacturing, a specialist in thin foams and micro sandwich materials for acoustic and lightweighting applications.
For more than 10 years, 4a manufacturing have been producing tight tolerance hard foam sheets - under the MILLIFOAM™ brand - down to a thickness of 0.2 mm and combining them with metal skins to form ultra-thin CIMERA® sandwich materials. 4a materials are used to increase stiffness with no added weight, or to maintain stiffness whilst reducing weight and saving material across an extremely diverse range of markets from micro speakers in consumer electronics to ultra-light sports equipment.
NTPT™ and 4a began to work together earlier this year when 4a sought to increase the stiffness of the aluminium sandwich skins in materials for high-performance micro speakers typically used in mobile devices such as lap tops, mobile phones, and tablet computers. One of the main challenges for prepreg materials in these thin sandwich materials is maintaining uniformity of the carbon fibre layers, become an even more critical property as ply weights decrease. NTPT™’s unique fibre spreading capability facilitates a highly uniform UD prepreg tapes with areal weights as low as 15gsm, and it was this thickness control, and expertise with ultra-high modulus fibres (>300GPa), that led to the development of a unique new CIMERA® micro sandwich using a 20gsm (0.02mm thickness) prepreg and a total thickness lower than 0.2 mm.
The two companies share a synergistic position at the leading edge of technical development for thin carbon fibre sandwich structures and can offer customers flat panel carbon fibre CIMERA® micro sandwich laminates (direct from 4a manufacturing) or a materials package of NTPT™ thin ply prepregs and MILLIFOAM™ cores for those wishing to mould their own ultra-thin 3D sandwich components. TPT® preforms, stacks of unidirectional prepreg plies laid down by machine (ATL) at precisely the angles defined by NTPT™ engineers and the customers’ technical team, can also be used with 4a manufacturing cores to improve accuracy and reducing mould draping time for lightweight sandwich parts.
“We were delighted when 4a manufacturing first approached us for help developing ultra-thin carbon fibre skins for their CIMERA® sandwich materials, it’s a natural partnership to bring together the world leaders in thin ply prepreg and thin core technologies.” comments James Austin, CEO, North Thin Ply Technology.
“We were so pleased to find a company with such a strong expertise in producing UD tapes at very low weight and such a good fibre distribution. Without their quality, it would have been impossible to develop this new state of the art product.” comments Domenico Foglio, Head of Sales, 4a manufacturing GmbH.