Canadian R&D Investment in Environment-Friendly Vehicle Parts Manufacturing

21 January 2007

A $5.8 million project will be undertaken by Camoplast to reduce atmospheric emissions, decrease energy consumption and waste, and increase productivity by introducing a more efficient way to manufacture composite parts for vehicles.

“Canada's New Government encourages traditional industries to find innovative ways to become more efficient and lessen their impact on the environment,” said Minister Bernier, Minister of Industry. “This project demonstrates Camoplast's leadership in the industry by affirming its continued commitment to environmental stewardship while maintaining a top position in the market.”

This investment in Camoplast, which is headquartered in Sherbrooke, Quebec, will help the company to complement its existing manufacturing process with a more efficient Camoplast Long Fibers (CLF) process to mould composite parts for recreational vehicles, heavy trucks, and agricultural equipment. While this technology currently exists for manufacturing small parts, the company is adapting it to suit its needs, enabling the production of larger parts.

Camoplast currently uses an open mould process to manufacture parts for vehicles and machinery, including hulls and decks for personal watercraft and truck hoods and tops. The process fully meets environmental standards, but uses local exhaust ventilation, meaning that a substantial amount of energy is required to eliminate atmospheric emissions. According to estimates to date, the CLF (Camoplast long fibre) process would reduce typical propane gas consumption for the process by over 50%.

Camoplast will use the repayable investment to install the CLF technology, a more efficient production process. CLF uses a robot to spray a mixture of cut glass fibres and urethane resin on the surface of a mould. The mould is then transferred to a press where a counter mould compresses and condenses the glass/resin mixture. After the mixture has been polymerized, the mould is opened and the part removed. The process requires no large-scale air exhaust, which will substantially reduce heating requirements. In addition, with this closed-mould CLF process, the dimensions of the parts manufactured are carefully controlled, which will reduce waste in landfill sites. Although this technology is already being used for the manufacture of small parts, Camoplast has tailored it to meet its requirements for the production of large parts.

The adoption of this innovative technology by Camoplast will make it possible to produce parts with a procedure that will generate business opportunities by opening up new markets. The use of automation and robotization will boost the company's productivity while reducing energy consumption and waste and minimizing environmental impacts.

“Camoplast is delighted that the Government of Canada is taking part in this development project,” said Luc Janelle, Vice President and Director General of Camoplast Composite Solutions. “To survive, companies have to be innovative. This motivates us to offer clients new complementary solutions that will help create jobs while having a positive impact on the environment.”

The investment is being made through Technology Partnerships Canada, an agency of Industry Canada, using a new model contribution agreement that emphasizes enhanced transparency and accountability.

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