The World of Carbon Fiber and Composites: Versatility and Resistance
The use of carbon fiber and composite materials have gained increasing popularity in recent years. Thanks to their outstanding properties, high strength and versatility, these materials are increasingly being used in precision engineering.
Composites, in fact, make it possible to create extremely lightweight components with high mechanical performance, a factor that has encouraged their use especially in the Aerospace and Automotive industries.
The manufacture of precision parts using composites, however, requires special attention. The assembly phase, in fact, requires the carbon parts to be joined together using special glues, which cannot be applied if the surface is not previously treated. It is not possible, in fact, to apply liquids (such as glue or paint) to the original surface of the composites.
To overcome this problem, therefore, it is necessary to prepare the material with a process called ‘surface activation‘.
Sandblasting for surface activation on carbon fiber and composites
Laying paints, gluing additional components or depositing coatings on carbon or other composites requires a surface pre-treatment of the artefact called surface activation.
Surface activation can be performed in different ways.
In the past, the most common alternative was manual surface preparation, whereby an employee would treat the component using sandpaper (scotch brite methodology).
As can be easily guessed, this methodology presented the Company with several critical issues.
Firstly, the manual processing times are extremely long. Secondly, the success of the processing depends heavily on the skills of the operator (who must always guarantee good manual dexterity throughout the production cycle). Finally, manual surface treatment is particularly difficult if the component to be treated has complex surfaces (undercuts or precision details).
To overcome this problem, Norblast has invested in the design of state-of-the-art surface activation equipment, which enables the surface of composites to be treated in a meticulous and careful manner.
With Norblast’s surface activation equipment, it is possible to:
- Reduce processing times per individual component by up to 10 times;
- Achieve any type of surface, regardless of the shape of the material, undercuts, cracks or coves without risking damage to the part;
- Guarantee the uniformity of the parts produced: the first machined part always has the same characteristics as the last;
- Dramatically reduce production errors and the number of damaged parts;
- Reducing operator dependency: being performed by a machine, processing does not depend on the skills of a single individual. This makes it possible for the company to guarantee a constant production capacity at all times.
Surface activation treatments: Norblast’s excellence for controlled roughness on carbon fiber
Norblast has been working for years in the field of sandblasting and surface activation for composites and, over the years, has developed important know-how that has enabled it to work with large multinationals in the automotive and racing world.
The machines developed by Norblast guarantee an extremely high level of precision, enabling excellent, safe and extremely fast machining operations.
This degree of precision is due to Norblast’s continuous research in the field of sandblasting and surface treatment.
Thanks to an important Research & Development laboratory and a technical staff consolidated by years of experience, in fact, Norblast identifies the most suitable blasting media for each process and the best system according to the required productivity, improving the final yield and optimising the need for spare parts and machine downtime.
Innovation and research at Norblast
Finally, a further aspect that characterises Norblast machinery concerns offline machine programming.
Thanks to the continuous research and development of the machines and the increasing use of anthropomorphic robots inside them, in fact, Norblast has made it possible to compile the part-program of the surface machining by operating remotely.
This is extremely important, as it allows programming to be carried out anywhere and at any time, without interrupting batch processing in production and thus reducing machine downtime.
Laboratory testing, research and innovation are always at the heart of any machining process for Norblast, which continuously invests in R&D to optimise production processes and make its customers’ machining operations more efficient.