Pumping at the heart of Composites

By Edward Barrington, Slack & Parr Ltd.

Image of Carbon Fibre

The precision gear pump has been used to meter different polymers in the man-made fibre production process for over 70 years and is sometimes referred to as the ‘heart’ of the machine.  It usually operates constantly 24/7 with minimal maintenance, high expectations of output consistency and often in arduous installations.

The constituent components of Composite materials are no different, from Carbon Fibre to Aramid Fibre, the base yarn needs geared booster pumps to boost / pressurise and control the flow of the polymer through the machine. From there, high precision gear spinning pumps are used to very accurately meter the polymer and extrude the polymer through spinnerets to actually form the shape of the yarn.

The performance of the gear metering pump is hugely influenced by the design resulting from the process conditions supplied at the point of order or quotation.  The selection of material, application of surface treatments and even decisions, which result in microns of component dimensional difference, can greatly influence the performance and life expectancy.

Carbon Fibre is produced from Acrylic fibre, and this acrylic fibre is processed with solvents of either N-Dimethylformamide (DMF) or Sodium Thiocyanate. The latter requires the pump materials to be far superior to that of a pump for the DMF process.

Aramid fibres use the Sulphuric Acid as the processing solvent, this again requires the use of some very specialised pump materials for both corrosion resistance and wear resistance.

To convert the Acrylic Fibre to Carbon Fibre it is then processed, through a series of furnace’s to create the thermos-chemical reaction that converts the fibre to greater than 90% Carbon.

It is these fibres that are combined with resins that are weaved, knitted, braided or stitched in to the composites structures that are becoming ever more commonplace in our daily lives.

Slack & Parr are proud to work with the majority of the market leaders for the production of Acrylic / Carbon Fibre and Aramid Fibres.

Image 1: Typical 2 outlet, solid Stellite Aramid spinning pump

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