Composite Materials Sustainability-driven innovation for the automotive and wind energy industries

Source: Cannon Group Reading Time: 3 min

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Sustainability has become a core business imperative and Cannon invests five percent of annual turnover in research and development which is the company considers an essential driver for innovative, technologically advanced, and increasingly sustainable products.

Cannon short-stroke presses are designed to efficiently produce composite components, such as EV battery casing or enclosures with HP-RTM, SMC, and WCM technology.
Cannon short-stroke presses are designed to efficiently produce composite components, such as EV battery casing or enclosures with HP-RTM, SMC, and WCM technology.
(Source: Cannon Group)

The influence of composites is acutely predominant in two major industries – automotive and transportation, and renewable energy, especially wind turbines.

Cannon meets the automotive industry’s requirements with its expertise and the design and engineering of turnkey solutions to deliver high-quality products while optimising cycle times and energy consumption, and the safety of factory floor personnel. Automotive OEMs need to reduce the total weight of vehicles while maintaining high levels of safety, performance, and aesthetics. The Group’s knowledge and experience in PU and epoxy processing technology is extended and encompasses fiber-reinforced materials processing and composite technologies, fully optimised to provide advanced solutions and tailor-made applications.

The automotive industry is undergoing upheaval with the burgeoning rise of hybrid and fully electric vehicles (EVs), heavier than thermal combustion counterparts, and are also using composites more and more as part of lightweighting initiatives in body and powertrain applications to increase their autonomy.

Composite enclosures for EV batteries are a critical application with a complex array of constraints ranging from crash, impact and fire resistance to corrosion, dust and moisture incursion, stone impact, and in some circumstances, electrostatic discharge. Composite underrun protection shields further safeguard the battery casings. In addition, Cannon offers fully automated plants, including dosing units, mixing heads, and robots allowing micro-dosing processes of thermosetting polymers, silicone, or epoxy resin for gasketing and potting guarantee the protection of battery electrical and electronic components. In addition, Cannon supplies presses, molds, and automation related to sheet molding compounds (SMC), pre-preg compression molding (PCM), hybrid processes, high-pressure resin transfer molding (HP-RTM), Interwet-LFI, and other technologies to produce battery cases, lids, trays, and covers.

Further developments include high-precision multi-mixing heads and dosing systems for the filament winding process focusing mainly on the growing demands for Type VI composite pressure vessels and tanks for the transportation industry, where precision in mixing ratio, flowrate and temperature control are crucial.

Composites for wind turbines

Cannon Group has been collaborating with Tier 1 wind turbine blade manufacturers for over 15 years. Wind turbine blades are typically manufactured using glass fiber composite materials with thermoset resins and is the highest volume market for composites which enable innovative rotor blade designs to enhance turbine efficiency and lower the overall cost of electricity. Cannon supplies innovative turnkey HP-RTM, wet compression molding (WCM) and long fiber injection (LFI) plants fully equipped with dosing machines for epoxy resins, adhesives and pultrusion, vacuum degassing systems, and recently introduced a novel direct infusion system to automatize and provide accurate higher volume dosing to accelerate vacuum infusion (VARTM) for repeatable, reliable, and quicker production process that reduces waste, drastically lowers VOCs, and improves operator safety.

For more than five decades, Cannon Group has been active in a wide range of composite technologies providing state-of-the-art engineering solutions delivering efficient and reliable dosing metering and mixing machines for reactive resins, preforming units for glass and carbon fiber, high tonnage presses with handling and shuttling systems for complete production lines, and mould design and manufacturing. A key sustainability-driven milestone to reduce the impact of industrial production on the environment resulted from an innovative pilot process to prove the viability of producing carbon fiber reinforced polymers (CFRP) from recycled carbon fiber with some mechanical properties comparable to virgin material.


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