Twintex Chosen for Vacuum Bag Moulded Thermoplastic Composite Canoe

08 April 2008

Twintex Technical Fabric has been chosen by German sport and leisure boat builder, Mega Sports Vertriebs, for its new innovative Robson Brook-16 composite canoe.

In this application Twintex allowed the boat builder to replace rotomoulding with low investment vacuum bag moulding, to achieve a light weight, high stiffness, abrasive and impact resistant structure that was not subject to part shrinkage during processing.

Twintex Technical Fabric comprises commingled E-glass fibres and thermoplastic filaments which, in this particular application, are polypropylene (PP) fibres. The commingling technology also allows a high glass content of up to 80 percent to be achieved, thereby providing for exceptionally strong lightweight parts, while still retaining an even surface finish. A significant environmental advantage of utilizing thermoplastic composites and vacuum bag closed moulding technology is that no emissions are produced during the curing process. Moreover, the material can be recycled at end-of-life when it can be shredded and, in a 50/50 mix with virgin resin, be reused for injection moulding automotive and other applications.

Importantly, the combination of Twintex and vacuum bag moulding enables the production of low volume, large thermoplastic composite parts able to meet high mechanical performance and long-life criteria, as well as delivering consistent part quality. This makes it ideal for sport and leisure, niche automotive and marine applications for which high quality is demanded in short production-run parts.

To achieve an optimum performance to weight ratio for the application Twintex T PP60 745 AF 1-1, a 60/40 glass to PP grade was selected for the new Robson Brook-16 canoe structure, which measures 488cm long, has a beam of 99cm and depth of 48cm.

“We chose Twintex thermoplastic composite because it met all the criteria we set for the new canoe,” says Karl Fischer, Co-owner of Mega Sports Vertriebs. “The material gave a technical look similar to that of carbon with its fusion of performance, style and colour. Its weight is almost the same as an ABS sandwich construction but 30 percent lighter than canoes moulded in PE. The material’s high stiffness and impact and abrasion resistance were also important to prevent damage during transportation and use.”

“Customers like the characteristics of the thermoplastic composite canoe because it’s light, strong and equally easy to handle in-water and during portage and also, of course, because it’s an innovative product which is distinct and differentiated from other brands. This positive reaction has led us to consider touring kayaks made of Twintex as a next development in our range,” concluded Fischer.

Twintex Technical Fabric is manufactured by Owens Corning in Europe and is supported by a technical centre at Chambéry, France, where a team is available to assist customers to maximize the value-in-use benefits of the company’s range of technical fabrics, reinforcements and specialty products.

Twintex, a commingled product based on reinforcement glass fibres and thermoplastic filaments such as PE, PP, PET or PBT is commercially available mainly in the form of rovings, sheets, pellets, and fabrics and used to reinforce plastics for applications in a wide range of end-use markets such as electricity/electronics, construction, automotive, marine and sports and leisure.

Following approval by regulatory authorities in Europe and the United States, Owens Corning completed the acquisition of Saint-Gobain's Reinforcements and Composite Fabrics businesses for $640 million on November 1, 2007.

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