Composite Experts for over 35 years
PE Composites provide a complete, end-to-end service that includes design & engineering, prototyping, tooling, manufacturing, fitting, assembly and testing. We have been manufacturing composite components for over three decades and we have an enviable reputation for meeting our customers’ specifications, schedules and budgets first time. We recognise that the quality of your product relies on the quality of ours and everything that we do has that thought in mind.
Our modern manufacturing facilities and plant enable our fully trained and experienced workforce to manufacture components in accordance with your requirements. We can ‘build to print’, if necessary assisting you to realise a cost-effective design solution, or we can undertake any special or bespoke project that you may be considering.
If you are unsure of whether a product would benefit from the application of composites, simply contact us for a no commitment discussion early during the conceptual phase as this can often reduce a project timeline and cost.
Our composite experts will help you choose the materials and manufacturing process that best fits the performance specifications and financial budget of your component.
Below is a summary of the main processes we use for the manufacture of composite components and assemblies. If you require further information, please contact us through this site.
Composites manufacturing services
Wet Lay Up
This is a low-cost process requiring relatively inexpensive low temperature tooling. It is suitable for use where ultimate laminate quality and performance are not key drivers. It involves impregnating the fibre reinforcement by hand either off the mould, or in the mould. Wetting out and consolidation of the laminate is done using brushes and rollers. The finished item is usually left to cure at room temperature before de-moulding. PEC use all compatible fabrics, gel coat and resin systems. Structures requiring a core are usually manufactured in a number of stages.
Composite Vacuum Bagging
This improves wet-out of the fabric, increases the fibre content of the laminate and decreases the void content thus providing improved structural performance and a lighter component. This process is an extension of the wet lay-up process but pressure is applied to the laminate once laid-up in order to improve its consolidation. This is achieved by sealing a plastic film over the wet laid-up laminate and onto the tool. The air under the bag is extracted by a vacuum pump and thus up to one atmosphere of pressure can be applied to the laminate to consolidate it.
This process provides the lightest laminates with the highest structural performance, but at higher cost. This process can be automated. Fabrics and fibres are pre-impregnated by the materials’ manufacturer, thereby ensuring correct mix ratio for the resin / hardener and consistent resin to fibre ratio. Pre-pregs are most often stored in a freezer and require elevated temperature to cure. The pre-pregs are laid up by hand or machine onto a mould surface, vacuum bagged and then heated to typically 85-160 deg. C. This allows the resin to initially reflow and eventually to cure.
Resin Transfer Moulding
Resin Transfer Moulding (RTM) can provide a moulded surface finish on both sides of the component. Tooling is more expensive but the cost can be spread over multiple components, where applicable. Thus, it is not a process often used for one-off components. Fabrics are laid up into the mould as a dry stack of materials. A second mould tool is then clamped over the first, and resin is injected into the cavity. Vacuum can also be applied to the mould cavity to assist resin in being drawn into the fabrics. This is sometimes known as Vacuum Assisted Resin Injection (VARI). Both injection and cure can take place at either ambient or elevated temperature.
This process offers similar advantages to the RTM system and is more often used for one-offs or limited runs due to its lower cost of tooling. Fabrics are laid up as a dry stack of materials as in the RTM process. The fibre stack is then covered with peel ply (often a porous nylon fabric) and a knitted type of non-structural fabric. The whole dry stack is then vacuum bagged, and once any bag leaks have been eliminated, resin is allowed to flow into the laminate using the vacuum pressure as the driver. PEC ensure even resin distribution over the whole laminate through careful design of the vacuum and resin injection system.
Moulds & Tools
The design of the tooling is fundamental to achieving a good quality component capable of meeting or exceeding its performance criteria. PEC manufacture plugs, moulds and other tools from a range of appropriate materials, most commonly timber, polystyrene, tooling block, tooling paste, GRP, advanced composite or metal. Male or female moulds are manufactured to meet the specified surface finish of the part. Jigs and fixtures are produced to assist the maintenance of dimensional tolerances when assembling separate components into one unit.
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