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IK4-CIDETEC starts up its new facilities for the manufacture of advanced polymer composites

IK4-CIDETEC has taken another step in positioning itself as a centre of reference in Advanced Materials with the recent opening of its new facilities for polymer synthesis and processing of polymeric composites.

With the clear objective of meeting the needs of its industrial customers, the new facilities intend to attract new breakthrough solutions in the field of polymeric composites, implementing the developments in synthesis and modification of polymers in semi-industrial prototypes that were already being conducted in the laboratory. Thus enabling research and development of new generations of composites and nanocomposites presenting improvements in areas such as processing times (fast curing systems), recyclability, repairability or reprocessability, mechanical strength, thermal and electrical conductivity and surface functionality (anti-scratch, decoration, anti-adhesion, anti-freeze, anti-fouling, etc.).

The competitive advantage sought is to cover the entire value chain of the product, starting from polymer synthesis all the way up to manufacturing and characterization of the final component and / or the first series. This will undoubtedly help to consolidate the presence of IK4-CIDETEC in highly demanding sectors such as transport (automotive, aerospace and rail), wind energy or construction, by means of new projects and developments in R & D.

The new facilities are fitted with all the necessary equipment to synthesize polymers and manufacture samples and prototypes of composite materials using industrial processes at a pilot plant scale. In the ​​polymer synthesis area, the acquisition of a high-capacity and maximum flexibility reactor to control the various reaction parameters should be mentioned. This will enable the synthesis and functionalization of a variety of polymers and the incorporation / dispersion of different types of fillers and additives in polymeric systems.

In the processing area, worthy of mention is the investment made in a Resin Transfer Moulding unit (RTM), fitted with an injection equipment suitable for epoxy and polyurethane resins (bicomponent or monocomponent), among others, and a hot plate press. A new vertical milling machine performs the machining of the obtained materials. Another notable investment has been made on an internal mixer for incorporating different types of additives and/or nanofillers in thermoplastic polymers, rubber formulation and the development of dynamic systems that can be molded with the existing thermoplastic injection equipment at IK4-CIDETEC.

One of the most remarkable acquisitions regarding the characterization of the obtained materials is that of static testing equipment for the performance of normalized tests of tensile, bending and compression of reinforced plastics and composite materials. The machine can be fitted with a load cell for testing components or subcomponents and also has a climatic chamber to perform tests at temperatures between -150 and 300 °C. In addition to the static testing machine, an equipment to perform impact tests has also been purchased.

With an initial investment of over 1,500,000 €, this Gipuzkoan research centre will be able to make a comprehensive offer to the industry, both by developing new concepts in composite materials, as well as by the testing of mechanical characterization of plastics, monolithic composites or sandwich structures (tensile, compression, bending, interlaminar shear, fracture toughness, etc.), mechanical characterization of adhesive bonds on metal substrates, composite or hybrid materials (single overlap, double overlap), Charpy /Izod impact tests of plastics and composites, etc. This range of tests is completed with morphological characterization tests (FE-SEM), physico-chemical tests (FTIR, thermal conductivity) and dynamic-mechanical tests (DMA).

In order to perform these activities, IK4-CIDETEC counts on a team of 19 researchers, 12 of them doctors, with extensive experience in areas as diverse as the synthesis and processing of polymers and composites, adhesives, nanomaterials, organic chemistry or engineering materials.

IK4-CIDETEC’s new potentials were recently presented at JEC Europe, one of the most important fairs in the world in composite materials and which is held annually in Paris.