Leading-Edge Molding Technology Installed at ORNL

Roctool’s induction-powered heating/cooling equipment to further development of composites.

France’s Roctool (RocTool Inc. Charlotte, N.C) has installed its leading-edge composites molding technology at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). A developer of mold heating and cooling technologies, Roctool installed its large double-zone generator and its latest performance cooling units at the Department of Energy’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility (MDF) at ORNL for early stage R&D applications in automotive, aerospace, aircraft, military, energy and consumer goods.

The DZ 150 KW induction generator has two zones each with 150KW of power. It is an ultra-compact model dedicated for Roctool processing, and its design saves floor space while simplifying inline integration. A remote control unit permits control of the heating cycles via feedback to the microcontroller. The RPC C24 micro cooling unit effectively purges the system, and then uses water to efficiently cool the mold.

The equipment is available to industrial collaborators through ORNL and IACMI R&D programs focused on the processing of new composites (commingles, non-woven), renewable composites such as bioderived fiber and self-reinforced PP (SRPP), and high-performance composites (high-temperature for the aerospace market).

In addition to the equipment installation, Roctool has developed a special preliminary mold for compression molding programs. The highly-detailed mold—which will be installed later this year—incorporates numerous design features for a range of composite products. A new mold is under construction for more advanced manufacturing trials. Customers can also build their own Roctool mold for specific application needs.

“We’re excited to add Roctool’s heating and cooling mold technology to our research capabilities in additive and composites manufacturing at the MDF where both ORNL and IACMI led projects can utilize the latest in compression molding technology for lightweight composites,” said ORNL Director of MFD Bill Peter.

“Roctool’s innovative molding technologies will accelerate the overall impact of our programs and expand composite processing capabilities for our industrial partners and the growing workforce,” said Uday Vaidya, governor’s chair in Advanced Composites Manufacturing for ORNL, the University of Tennessee and the CTO of IACMI-The Composites Institute.

Roctool envisions working with customers like ORNL and IACMI on pre-series development projects.