High-Temperature Tooling Board wows at JEC Europe Exhibition

March 23, 2015

Between March 10and 12, more than 30,000 people gathered at the Paris Porte de Versailles in France for the largest composites event in the world: JEC Europe.

The show was hosted by JEC Group, the largest composites industry organization in Europe and abroad. According to the JEC website, “JEC represents, promotes, and expands composites markets by providing global or local networking and information services.”

General Plastics was joined by other Washington state companies including Heatcon Composite Systems and the University of Washington William E. Boeing Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics in the U.S. Pavilion as part of the Washington exhibition.

Sales Director Brian Sweeney and Senior Account Manager Rick Brown represented General Plastics this year, highlighting a range of our capabilities and products, but chief among them was the LAST-A-FOAM® FR-4718 (part of the FR-4700 series) high temperature tooling board.

“The FR-4718 was by far the largest draw,” Sweeney explained. “Most people think only metal can meet their high temperature needs. There aren’t other polyurethane products like ours on the market right now, so they’re surprised when we explain that our foam can replace more expensive metallic tools and molds, especially for one-off master plugs, prototypes or short-run applications.”

The event proved to be a successful one for General Plastics. Sweeney and Brown were able to establish new FR-4718 projects with European aerospace companies, and strengthen relationships with the European aerospace community as a whole.

“JEC Europe gave us the opportunity to meet with many Russian, Polish, and Eastern block accounts,” said Sweeney. “It’s always exciting to make new connections – especially when those connections are overseas!”

Great job to Sweeney, Brown, and the General Plastics team who continue to push the envelope and work to meet the needs of our customers all over the world.

The LAST-A-FOAM® FR-4700 high-temperature tooling board series allows for prototyping, high-temperature curing prepregs, vacuum forming, pattern making, and other limited-run tooling where metal dies are cost-prohibitive. Boards can be easily machined into shapes, making specification changes or necessary modifications quick and at a relatively low cost. Such qualities make this material ideal for a variety of tooling needs from large, monolithic tools or small quantities.

The material also bonds easily with adhesives, making it a great option for large, mass tools. Before beginning a tooling project, polyurethane foam boards – which are significantly less expensive than metals – can be used to check and proof tooling programs before cutting into metal.

The picture below shows an example of a Stringer HexTOOL® fabrication. Here, we’re looking at a FR-4718 billet that has been machined down to the desired shape. The machined foam is then prepared by sealing and releasing the surface with ToolTec® self-adhesive release film.  The HexTOOL™ is then applied and the lay up is bagged and cured.  A slow cool down step is needed to prevent cracking of thick cross sections of foam.   General Plastics’ engineers are happy to discuss project to help them be a success.

Stringer HexTOOL® Fabrication Overview

The epoxy-hybrid material that composes the FR-4700 resists the usual challenge facing polyurethane foam by remaining dimensionally stable at peak temperatures of 200° C, and continuous-use temperatures up to 177° C. Further benefits include the ability to be machined with standard high-speed steel (HSS) cutting tools.

You can also watch our animated Large Tool Demonstration.

Did you attend JEC Europe? Let us know what you thought of the show in the comments section. Contact us to learn more about our products and capabilities.