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Advanced Engineering 2018

Pultron Develops Microwave Pultrusion

04 June 2006

Pultron has developed a pultrusion curing process that uses microwave technology to make composite products such as structural rods and bars for the construction industry.

The novel curing process involved almost two years of research and development at Pultron's laboratories, almost $500,000 from the Foundation through its Technology for Business Growth (TBG) scheme and much more in company cash, time and resources.

Pultron General Manager, Jasper Holdsworth, who is 32, says the company is looking to secure new opportunities for Pultron, using the technology in Dubai, where the company has based one of its staff. ""Dubai is quickly emerging as a key market for Pultron because the company's non-corrosive construction products withstand the effects of Dubai's coastal environment,"" he says.

Conventional pultrusion processing involves heating from the outside of the material to the inside, whereas the new microwave technology heats in a more uniform manner, reportedly eliminating cracking and speeding up production.

""The project was technically difficult and there were technical risks involved but the Government funding pushed us to the edge to achieve it. It would have been hard to justify spending $1 million on blue sky development with no guaranteed returns, but receiving half the project funding from the Foundation made the difference,"" says Mr Holdsworth.

""We were pushing into the unknown and it was useful to have the second opinion of another party. They bought into what we were doing, asked searching questions and helped us to look at the project from a different perspective - and that adds value to the business,"" he said.

Pultron is now considering using the new technology to manufacture new products that were previously difficult to make using conventional pultrusion processes and the speed on some manufacturing lines is now significantly faster. This adds to efficiency, reduces costs and allows higher product margins. Mr Holdsworth says an indirect benefit is the high international credibility of Pultron which is now seen as a company that can tackle technically difficult projects.

Bronwen and Peter Holdsworth started the business in 1982, making electric fence posts for the farming industry. Pultron now makes more than 100 different products and its market is 70 percent export.






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