Material innovations for advanced composite tooling

Our comprehensive AmberTool® series of epoxy tooling prepregs are the trusted benchmark in the composites industry, delivering an unmatched reputation for reliability while producing a professional cosmetic surface finish.

The TenCate AmberTool® family is exceptionally flexible to your design needs. Our prepregs cure at low temperatures to allow the production of high-quality composite tooling from low-cost master patterns. Additionally, with their excellent tack, drape, and handling characteristics, AmberTool® tooling prepregs easily fabricate into complex tool shapes.

AmberTool® flexibility expands beyond the product's abilities. We offer the tooling prepregs in a range of reinforcements, including glass and carbon, to best suit your project needs. If required, we can also provide them in roll form, pre-cut kits, and multi-ply formats to reduce layup time and improve tool build efficiencies, all without impacting product out life.

And we stand by our products. TenCate AmberTool® collection of composite tooling prepregs include our HX, HXR, and TC series, sold globally by a proven team of tooling experts and supported by comprehensive technical support services, including tailored training courses.

TenCate AmberTool® product family

TenCate AmberTool®

Resin

Tg (onset)**

Min cure temp

Typical cure

Tack life (days)

Description

HX32-1 Epoxy 162°C (323°F) 65°C (149°F) 12 hours at 70°C (158°F) 30 Long tack life for
large applications
HXR56 Epoxy 185°C (365°F) 40°C (104°F) 8.5 hours at 50°C (122°F) 60 hours Two layer product
for rapid lamination
HX56 Epoxy 185°C (365°F) 40°C (104°F) 8.5 hours at 50°C (122°F) 60 hours Improved
handleability
HX50 Epoxy 190°C (374°F) 40°C (104°F) 8.5 hours at 50°C (122°F) 60 hours Excellent surface
finish
HX42 Epoxy 200°C (392°F) 50°C (122°F) 8 hours at 60°C (140°F) 5 Proven system for
aerospace
HX40 Epoxy 203°C (397°F) 50°C (122°F) 12 hours at 65°C (149°F) 8 Large tooling
applications
TC40 BMI 213°C (415°F) 182°C (360°F) 6 hours at 177°C (350°F) 14 High service
temperature

TenCate AmberTool® processing guide

Download our 24-page TenCate AmberTool® composite tooling processing guide. Containing step-by-step processing information for our composite tooling prepregs.

Resources

TenCate Ambertool® composite materials selector guide

Download PDF

Guide to composites

Request print copy

Frequently Asked Questions

Composite tooling

TenCate has a TenCate AmberTool Processing Guide available on our website in the Resources section, under Processing Guides. Plus we have tooling experts on staff to answer any questions you may have. 

Tooling prepregs are typically chosen by first considering the Tg of the tool to ensure it is capable of withstanding the typical cure temperature of the part. Ideally, one would like to see the Tg of the tool to be at least 10°C / 50°F higher than the cure of the part.

Second, a critical factor to consider is the processing temperature of the tooling board master.  Since foam masters are typically low Tg, it is critical that during the intial cure of the tooling prepreg master that it say dimensionally stable. If the tooling foam master has a Tg of 150°F, then one would not want to exceed this during the cure of the tooling prepreg.  Also remember that tooling prepregs must undergo a final free standing high temperature post cure to be able to withstand multiple part cure cycles and maintain long term durability. 

Lastly, outime is a final consideration depending upon the size of the tool and the time it will take to lay up the tool. 

Yes, tools as large as 130 foot long by 10 foot wide have been fabricated with TenCate's HX series of tooling materials.   Tools may be net molded or machine molded to final part dimensions. In net molding, a foam master is prepared to the exact part shape. From this master, the final tool is developed.  In higher temperature or very large tools, the final tool may represent an oversized part shape and it is then machined to the exact size. This is commonly done for high temperature tools where the final cure temperature may create CTE distortions or in very large tools where final dimensional accuracy is required.   Typically TenCate's HX series is net molded, while TenCate's AmberTool TC40 BMI is machine molded to its final shape. 

It may be possible to cure and consolidate TenCate's HX series of prepregs with only vacuum only pressures, but it is not recommended.  The reason is that the final tool will see multiple cycles during its operation, and if there is porosity in the tool, it will eventually leak. Once that occurs, the tool can not be fixed.  For that reason, we recommend using autoclave pressures to achieve good laminate consolidation.  The post cure may be freestanding and done in an oven to achieve the final Tg.  The final post cure temperature should be at least 50°F degrees higher than than the final part temperature. 

Typically a low temperature, low cost tooling board master is utilized. When this method is used, to maintain dimensional accuracy it is important to minimize thermal expansion. As such, TenCate AmberTool tooling prepregs are cured initially at a low temperature on the master, then they undergo a free standing postcure to reach their ultimate Tg.

Casestudy

Industry leading composite tooling material

Schiebel’s CAMCOPTER® S-100 is a high performance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) capable of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL), utilizing TenCate AmberTool® composite tooling prepregs.

Need more information?

Please get in touch with our tooling experts to learn more about how TenCate can help you with your next tooling project.

TenCate Advanced Composites UK

TenCate Advanced Composites UK
Send email +44 1773 530899

Need more information?

Please get in touch with our tooling experts to learn more about how TenCate can help you with your next tooling project.

TenCate Advanced Composites USA

TenCate Advanced Composites USA
Send email +1 (408) 776 0700

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