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Finished parts straight from the mould for Cobra

With Cobra’s strategy targeting higher volume applications, a faster production process was required.

12th April 2021

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Chon Buri, Thailand

Sports/​Outdoor

Cobra International has commissioned a new prepreg compression moulding production line and with series production now underway, it is delivering prepreg carbon fibre composite parts with a final surface finish straight from the mould tool.

While Cobra has produced prepreg parts for several decades at its 100,000-square-metre manufacturing facility in Chon Buri, Thailand, most previous production has been via autoclave or vacuum bag processing. With Cobra’s strategy targeting higher volume applications, a faster production process was required. Developed during the second half of 2020, the new compression moulding line is currently producing monolithic carbon fibre wing and mast components for leading foil brands Phantom Windsurfing and MFC.

The company’s production engineering team has focused on a full value stream mapping of the manufacturing process, optimising the Phantom IRIS X windsurfing foil production for efficiency, reduced cycle time and to get the final part dimensions and surface finish straight from the mould.

Series production is now underway at the company’s plant in Thailand. © Cobra

Cobra has also developed processes to analyse each new part and produce a ply book of 2D shapes. Individual prepreg plies are stacked, preformed in low temperature tooling, and then loaded into steel mould tools for the final compression moulding cure cycle.

“Our new compression moulding production offers major benefits to our customers,” said CTO Pierre Olivier Schnerb. “Firstly, extremely rapid prototyping, with full prepreg parts available within ten days. Our own ply book development process is a critical part of this rapid response, helping us to define a full ply book for each mould geometry in only a few hours. We were clear from the outset that we had to remove the need for a traditional multi-layer clear coat. It was a challenge, but we now make highly structural parts with the required surface finish straight from the mould.”

Cobra continues to develop the technology, with resin matrix and mould heating improvements promising short cycle times in the future. The company is currently scaling up with a second line planned to come on stream in the second half of 2021. This additional capacity will support prepreg component production across a diverse range of applications such as foils, prosthetics, automotive and motorcycle components.

www.cobrainter.com

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