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1. WO2005108034 - COMPRESSION MOLDING METHOD AND APPARATUS SUITABLE FOR MAKING DOOR FACINGS

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[ EN ]

WHAT IS CLAIMED IS:
1. A method for compression molding a thermoset article, comprising:
providing a mold apparatus comprising a first mold die and a second mold die movable relative to one another between open and closed states, the first and second mold dies respectively having first and second surfaces facing one another to provide a mold cavity therebetween;
placing a thermosettable workpiece on the first mold die,"
heating the thermosettable workpiece on the first mold die to gel the thermosettable workpiece,'
moving at least one of the first and second mold dies toward the other at a first closing velocity to compress the thermosettable workpiece between the first and second surfaces,'
closing the mold cavity and applying a first mold clamp pressure to the thermosettable workpiece at a predetermined yet variable pressurization time to shape the thermosettable workpiece in the closed mold cavity;
curing the thermosettable workpiece into a thermoset article,'
measuring an electrical property of the thermosettable workpiece on the first mold die as a function of time;

detecting a gelation period during which the measured electrical property changes in value until reaching a turning point corresponding to a gelation peak value,' and
determining a gelation peak time of the thermosettable workpiece, the gelation peak time coinciding in time with the gelation peak value.
2. A method according to claim 1, further comprising:
comparing the gelation peak time to the predetermined yet variable pressurization time and, if the gelation peak time precedes the pressurization time b}^ more than a predetermined tolerable allowance, changing at least one of the first closing velocity and the first mold clamp pressure to a second closing velocity and a second mold clamp pressure, respectively.
3. A method according to claim 2, wherein said comparing and changing are performed prior to the pressurization time to apply at least one of the second closing velocity and the second mold clamp pressure to the thermosettable workpiece.
4. A method according to claim 2, wherein the thermosettable workpiece and thermoset article comprises a first thermosettable workpiece and a first thermoset article, respectively, and wherein the method further comprises:
discharging the first thermoset article from the mold cavity subsequent to said curing;

placing a second thermosettable workpiece on the first mold die subsequent to said discharging of the first thermoset article,' and
processing the second thermosettable workpiece under at least one of the second closing velocity and the second mold clamp pressure.
5. A method according to claim 2, wherein said changing comprises increasing the first closing velocity to the second closing velocity.
6. A method according to claim 2, wherein said changing comprises increasing the first mold clamp pressure to the second mold clamp pressure.

7. A method according to claim 2, wherein said changing comprises increasing the first closing velocity and the first mold clamp pressure to the second closing velocity and the second mold clamp pressure, respectively.
8. A method according to claim 2, wherein the predetermined tolerable allowance is 0.
9. A method according to claim 1, wherein the mold cavity in the closed state conforms in shape to a door facing.
10. A method according to claim 1, wherein the curable
thermosettable workpiece comprises a sheet molding compound.
11. A method according to claim 10, further comprising introducing reinforcing fibers into the mold cavity.
12. A method according to claim 11, wherein the reinforcing fibers comprise glass fibers.

13. A method according to claim 1, wherein said measuring comprises providing at least one of the mold dies with a dielectric sensor operatively associated with the mold cavity to gather data representative of rheological properties of the thermosettable workpiece, and measuring the electrical property with the dielectric sensor.
14. A method according to claim 1, wherein said measuring comprises providing the first mold die with first and second dielectric sensors operatively associated with the mold cavity to gather data representative of rheological properties of the thermosettable workpiece, and measuring the electrical property with the first and second dielectric sensors, the first dielectric sensor positioned to contact the thermosettable workpiece immediately when the thermosettable workpiece is placed in the first mold die, the second dielectric sensor positioned to contact the thermosettable workpiece after the thermosettable workpiece has been placed on the first mold die and subjected to compression.
15. A method according to claim 1, wherein the electrical property comprises electrical conductance, and wherein during the gelation period the measured electrical conductance increases in value until reaching the gelation peak value, the gelation peak value corresponding to a maximum measured electrical conductance value during the gelation period.
16. A method according to claim 1, wherein the electrical property comprises impedance, and wherein during the gelation period the measured electrical impedance decreases in value until reaching the gelation peak value, the gelation peak value corresponding to a minimum measured electrical impedance value during the gelation period.
17. A method for compression molding a thermoset article, comprising:
providing a mold apparatus comprising a first mold die and a second mold die movable relative to one another between open and closed states, the first and second mold dies respectively having first and second surfaces facing one another to provide a mold cavity therebetween;
placing a thermosettable workpiece on the first mold die,'
heating the thermosettable workpiece on the first mold die to gel the thermosettable workpiece;
moving at least one of the first and second mold dies toward the other to close the mold cavity and applying a mold clamp pressure to the
thermosettable workpiece in the closed mold cavity,'
heating the thermosettable workpiece in the mold cavity to a first cure temperature to cure of the thermosettable workpiece; and
measuring an electrical property of the thermosettable workpiece as a function of time during a cure stage of the thermosettable workpiece to provide a measured data set, the cure stage comprising a period from which the electrical property changes in value from a turning point corresponding to a gelation peak until substantially leveling off as a function of time,' determining a measured cure rate of the thermosettable workpiece from the measured data set.
18. A method according to claim 17, further comprising comparing the measured cure rate to a predetermined cure rate standard and, if the measured cure rate deviates from the predetermined cure rate standard by more than a predetermined tolerable allowance, changing the first cure temperature to a second cure temperature.
19. A method according to claim 18, wherein said comparing and changing are performed prior to completing cure of the thermosettable workpiece, and wherein the method further comprises continuing cure of the thermosettable workpiece at the second cure temperature.
20. A method according to claim 18, wherein the thermosettable workpiece and thermoset article comprises a first thermosettable workpiece and a first thermoset article, respectively, and wherein the method further comprises:
discharging the first thermoset article from the mold cavity subsequent to cure;
placing a second thermosettable workpiece on the first mold die subsequent to said discharging of the first thermoset article,' and
curing the second thermosettable workpiece at the second cure temperature.

21. A method according to claim 18, wherein the mold cavity in a closed state conforms in shape to a door facing.
22. A method according to claim 18, wherein when the measured cure rate is slower than the predetermined cure rate standard, said changing comprises increasing the curing temperature.
23. A method according to claim 18, wherein when the measured cure rate is faster than the predetermined cure rate standard, said changing comprises decreasing the curing temperature.
24. A method according to claim 18, wherein the predetermined tolerable allowance is 0.
25. A method according to claim 17, wherein the curable
thermosettable workpiece comprises a sheet molding compound.
26. A method according to claim 25, further comprising introducing reinforcing fibers into the mold cavity.
27. A method according to claim 26, wherein the reinforcing fibers comprise glass fibers.
28. A method according to claim 17, wherein said measuring comprises providing at least one of the mold dies with a dielectric sensor operatively associated with the mold cavity to gather data representative of cure properties of the thermosettable workpiece, and measuring the electrical property with the dielectric sensor.

29. A method according to claim 17, wherein said measuring comprises providing the first mold die with first and second dielectric sensors operatively associated with the mold cavity to gather data representative of rheological properties of the thermosettable workpiece, and measuring the electrical property with the first and second dielectric sensors, the first dielectric sensor positioned to contact the thermosettable workpiece immediately when the thermosettable workpiece is placed in the first mold die, the second dielectric sensor positioned to contact the thermosettable workpiece after the thermosettable workpiece has been placed on the first mold die and subjected to compression.
30. A method according to claim 17, wherein the electrical property comprises electrical conductance, and wherein the cure stage comprising a period from which the electrical conductance decreases in value below the gelation peak until substantially leveling off as a function of time, the gelation peak value corresponding to a maximum electrical conductance value.
31. A method according to claim 17 wherein the electrical property comprises electrical impedance, and wherein the cure stage comprises a period from which the electrical impedance increases in value above the gelation peak until substantially leveling off as a function of time, the gelation peak value corresponding to a minimum electrical impedance value.

32. A compression molding apparatus for molding a thermoset article, comprising:
a first mold die having a first surface;
a second mold die having a second surface and movable relative to the first mold between an open state and a closed state, the first and second surfaces facing one another to form a mold cavity therebetween and to receive a thermosettable workpiece in the mold cavity;
an actuator for moving the second mold die relative to the first mold die at a first closing velocity and for applying a first mold clamp pressure to the thermosettable workpiece in the closed mold cavity at a predetermined yet variable pressurization time,'
a heat source for heating the thermosettable workpiece in the mold cavity to a gelation temperature at which the thermosettable workpiece gels; a sensor for detecting a gelation period during which a measured electrical property reaches a turning point corresponding to a gelation peak value;
a controller for determining the gelation peak time of the
thermosettable workpiece,' and
said controller comparing the gelation peak time to the predetermined yet variable pressurization time and determining whether the gelation peak time precedes the pressurization time by more than a predetermined tolerable allowance.

33. A compression molding apparatus according to claim 32, wherein said controller is operatively associated with the actuator for changing at least one of the first closing velocity and the first mold clamp pressure to a second closing velocity and a second mold clamp pressure, respectively, in the event that the predetermined tolerable allowance is exceeded.
34. A compression molding apparatus according to claim 32, wherein the mold cavity in the closed state conforms in shape to a door facing.
35. A compression molding apparatus according to claim 32, further comprising a sensor cap and a locking nut, wherein:
the first mold die has a bore extending therethrough for receiving the sensor;
the sensor cap is releasably coupled to a bore-defining portion of the first mold die and positioned substantially flush with the first surface,' and the locking nut releasably couples the sensor to the sensor cap to position an end of the sensor in operative association with the mold cavity.
36. A compression molding apparatus for molding a thermoset article, comprising:
a first mold die having a first surface;
a second mold die having a second surface and movable relative to the first mold between an open state and a closed state, the first and second surfaces facing one another to form a mold cavity therebetween and to receive a thermosettable workpiece in the mold cavity;
an actuator for moving the second mold die relative to the first mold die at a closing velocity and for applying a mold clamp pressure to the thermosettable workpiece in the closed mold cavity,'
a heat source for heating the thermosettable workpiece in the mold cavity to a curing temperature at which the thermosettable workpiece cures; a sensor for measuring an electrical property of the thermosettable workpiece as a function of time during a cure stage for the thermosettable workpiece to provide a measured data set representative of cure properties of the thermosettable workpiece, the cure stage comprising a period after which the electrical property changes in value from a turning point corresponding to a gelation peak until substantially leveling off as a function of time,'
a controller for determining a measured cure rate of the
thermosettable workpiece; and
said controller for comparing the measured cure rate to a
predetermined cure rate standard and detecting for a deviation between the measured cure rate and the predetermined minimum cure rate standard that exceeds a predetermined tolerable allowance.
37. A compression molding apparatus according to claim 36, wherein said controller is operatively associated with the heat source for changing the curing temperature upon exceeding the predetermined tolerable allowance.
38. A compression molding apparatus according to claim 36, wherein the mold cavity in the closed state conforms in shape to a door facing.
39. A compression molding apparatus according to claim 36, further comprising a sensor cap and a locking nut, wherein:
the first mold die has a bore extending therethrough for receiving the sensor;
the sensor cap is releasably coupled to a bore-defining portion of the first mold die and positioned substantially flush with the first surface; and the locking nut releasably couples the sensor to the sensor cap to position an end of the sensor in operative association with the mold cavity.
40. A sensor assembly mountable into a mounting position on a compression molding tool having a molding surface with a bore, comprising: a sensor having a sensor face;
a sensor cap releasably coupled to a bore-defining portion of the compression molding tool in the mounting position for positioning a face of the sensor cap substantially flush with the molding surface,"
a locknut for releasably coupling the sensor to the sensor cap in the mounting position to position the sensor face substantially flush with the mold surface.

41. A door skin comprising an internal surface and an external surface, at least one of the surfaces having at least one indentation or protuberance substantially corresponding in shape to the head of a sensor assembly.