To improve productivity and ensure consistency across its manufacturing lines, IDI Composites International has completed several major manufacturing process improvements at its Noblesville, Ind., location. Once fully tested and documented, the enhancements will be implemented at the company's facilities in Puerto Rico and China.
Improvements to IDI Composites' bulk and sheet molding compound (BMC and SMC) thermoset processing lines include:
- Three-stream inline metering for the SMC line, which enables continuous, larger-volume runs and improves quality and consistency.
- Automated paste dispensing and doctor blade system for the SMC line, which ensures even distribution of resin paste across the substrate prior to the introduction of fiberglass to the product. The addition of Gamma gauge technology allows more precise measurements of the thickness of the applied paste.
- Compaction control system for the SMC line, which provides improved compaction control pressures to optimize fiberglass wet out as well as improved thickness control of the finished product.
- High volume, automated mixing system for the bulk molding compound line, which provides more consistent mixing of resins and fillers throughout the run.
- Feeder/bagging system, which is used to transfer BMC from a high volume, automated mixing system to an automatic bagging system, the next step in the process.
- Automated extrusion on the BMC line, which provides more control and adjustability.
- Temperature-controlled storage area for the SMC line, which allows material to maturate in an optimum environment for better product consistency and allows for prolonged storage of material, when necessary, to enhance shelf life.