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SANDIA NATIONAL LABORATORIES: SUPPORT FOAM
March 29, 2004
Researchers at the Department of Energy's Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore, CA, have developed a high-temperature, high-strength structural support foam, TEPIC, that has proven to be an exceptionally versatile material for use as molded-to-shape models as well as prototype and production run tooling for composites manufacturing. TEPIC can be fabricated in much greater section thicknesses than other conventional slab stock materials, eliminating the need to bond and repair large tools. TEPIC is dimensionally stable and retains strength to temperatures in autoclave processing in excess of 400 degrees F at 100 PSI. In contrast, other lightweight, polymer-based tooling materials have limited utility due to their maximum-use temperature of less than 310 degrees F. While TEPIC is expected to be cost-competitive with existing tooling boards, it can be used to process higher temperatures curing composites (>350 degrees F). In addition, TEPIC can be used with many standard mold releases and gel coats for multiple part removal and surface finish requirements. It is also repairable using a commercial adhesive system.