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R3 Composites Forms Carver Non-Woven Technologies

29 March 2016

R3 Composites has formed a new, wholly owned subsidiary, Carver Non-Woven Technologies, which will supply high-quality, multi-material non-woven products to both R3 and the broader North American composites industry.

Carver will be headquartered nearby in Fremont, California, US and is nearly done with renovating an existing plant at that location where it will produce its non-woven products and offer them for commercial sale starting in July 2016.

According to R3, the new company will offer cutting edge non-woven reinforcements for a wide variety of thermoset and thermoplastic composites due to Carver's ability to create sheet-stock with low-variance weight (density) with superior dimensional stability and mechanical properties. A broad combination of single-fibre and hybrid (multi-fibre) mats will be offered, including E-glass fibreglass, bast-type natural fibres (primarily jute), carbon fibre, and several types of polymer fibres (e.g. nylon and polyester) plus highly homogeneous resonated acrylic/latex binder-resin blends. Carver also plans to be the first to bring carbon fibre non-wovens to market at considerably lower costs than conventional wrap-and-resonate processes. In another departure from conventional non-wovens, Carver has opted to automate its production line completely ― from initial debaling, fibre opening, blending, and carding, all the way through to finished packaging.

"From the start, we strategically positioned Carver's focus on design and technology in order to significantly raise the bar on non-woven product quality," notes Mark Glidden, President, R3 Composites and Carver Non-Woven. "In order to meet the demanding performance requirements of the automotive, recreational vehicle, building/construction, and office-furniture markets, we knew it would be critical to maintain tight tolerances on fibre blending, coarse and fine fibre opening, product weight distribution, and line versatility. These are the key metrics that we kept in mind when custom designing our processes and equipment."

R£ said that the Carver team understood that quality also meant integration with the whole non-wovens supply chain, so they addressed this important aspect of their quality program with hands-on involvement in fibre quality and specifications prior to purchase ― especially in the area of natural fibres. The company has carefully partnered with suppliers in Southeast Asia to bring together the first comprehensive supply-chain management program for bast fibre non-wovens, including full quality testing of products prior to shipment to the Freemont plant. Starting at farms and distribution points throughout India and Bangladesh, the University of Calcutta is providing inspection and lot testing. Since jute fibres have a single harvest per year and since shipping to the US. Midwest takes 6-8 weeks, supply-chain management is really important to assure higher quality, longer fibres with good and consistent strength values are received.

"All told, we've made a very significant investment in the new company," adds Glidden, "but this assures complete control, consistency, and quality in our finished goods. With everything Carver makes, product quality is our first and foremost goal."