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A new company, Rigicom Ltd, has been formed to extend hot compaction technology for the manufacture of self-reinforced composites, originally developed at the University of Leeds.
The company has secured an option to the extensive portfolio of patents and is now seeking new licensees for the technology in addition to helping create new markets and applications.
Self-reinforced composites are produced from highly drawn polymer tapes compacted to create light weight, highly impact resistant thermoformable sheets. Being single polymer materials they are totally recyclable.
Hot compaction is the technology behind Curv self-reinforced polypropylene, currently manufactured by Propex Fabrics GmbH in Germany. Curv is already seen in a wide range of cutting edge products from blue chip companies including light weight luggage from Samsonite and high performance sports protection from Nike. Other applications range from automotive parts to panelling and anti-ballistics.
Professor Ian Ward, lead inventor of the hot compaction technology in the 1990’s and a Director of Rigicom commented, “In the time since we signed our first licence (with BP, now Propex Fabrics) we have developed ways to extend the technology to a wide range of polymers. Some of these offer remarkable levels of stiffness, strength and impact resistance and we are looking forward to working with Propex and new licensees in the development of new products and materials.”
Aptiform, the moulding division of NetComposites, has also worked extensively on self-reinforced composites and has developed the capability to mould complex components from this unique family of materials.
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