Go with the flow!


Faced with higher demands to increase production, reduce lead-time, waste and cost, isn’t it time you considered converting to a cleaner, cost-effective and beneficial system for your composites production? Composites in Manufacturing reports.

During this year’s Composite Engineering 2016 show, Alan Harper Composites (stand O123) will demonstrate its ‘MorphFlo’ and ‘Crows foot’ product innovations for the very first time. The company claims that MorphFlo will win the war against waste by eliminating the outdated, but popular spiral wrap resin flow paths, which are costly to install and remove and waste much resin.

Those infusing under a consumable vacuum bag or a reusable membrane will be well aware of the method to enhance flow by installing easy flow paths using plastic spiral wrap. These can be numerous and lengthy installations and in use, fill with resin as it is distributed over the fibre. Once cured, the unenviable task of removing these cured resin paths takes place, as peel ply and flow mesh - all full of cured resin - has to be forcibly pulled off the laminate. Peel ply is needed to ensure the spiral wrap hasn’t bonded to the laminate.

Alan Harper Composites’ MorphFlo runner system is said to eliminate this wasteful practice by providing large flow paths, which before the resin has time to cure simply empty and disappear. MorphFlo is either built as reusable runners to be installed under a conventional consumable bag, or better still, are permanently built into a reusable vacuum membrane.

Waste reduction by removing the need for peel ply and unsightly and difficult to remove cured resin runners is also seen as a major breakthrough in infusion technology.

At present, the MorphFlo runners are available in precursor 2m lengths for the user to install in shorter of longer runs as needed. A cross-over section is also available. In cross-section, the MorphFlo offers equivalent to an uncollapsible 16mm diameter flow path, but when switched off has zero cross-sectional area.

“We’ve been developing this since 1999 when we filed our original patents, but only saw its real potential as we’ve developed our reusable vacuum membrane technology since 2010 in which we specialise,” says company owner and designer, Alan Harper. “The one major problem to overcome was how to enter the resin into a disappearing channel without leaving a trace. Several attempts were made and tested in real infusion scenarios at Princess Yachts International. Flow mesh was an easy answer, but as it restricted our normal insert, resin flow volume using between 12 to 19mm diameter pipe, and was also consumable needing use of consumable peel ply, a radically new approach was needed.”

The right foot forward

Alan Harper Composites’ Crows foot cross-flow solution is a simple design that offers all that is needed to deliver resin under the MorphFlo without leaving a trace. It’s also totally reusable and needs no peel ply.

Princess Yachts has many designs and sizes of infused parts and uses both consumable and reusable bagging. It is now envisaged that very large parts using consumable bagging can utilise the system by kitting out from basic 2m MorphFlo lengths to any geometry and length, as the Crows foot cross-flow also allows one MorphFlo to feed an adjacent MorphFlo section ad infinitum.

MorphFlo, by its very nature of emptying itself of catalysed resin after the mould is full, doesn’t subject the laminate to the mass exothermic reaction the outdated spiral wrap produced and therefore its advantage is further enhanced by not cosmetically printing through runner paths to the moulded ‘A’ side.


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