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AIMPLAS, the Spanish Plastics Technology Centre, has reached the mid-point of the European project COALINE, in which research is developing a new profile manufacturing method by pultrusion for the building and automotive industries.
AIMPLAS explains that, thanks to the project, it will be possible to carry out the whole process in one step, including the application of the primer or paint that in this case will be produced inside the mould. The process will save time and costs and benefit the environment.
According to AIMPLAS, the new manufacturing process that is being developed not only reduces the labour force needed when producing, but also the number of steps in the process, such as the sanding and the painting or primer application. For that reason, it says it is faster and cheaper and also more environmentally sustainable, because the emission of solid particles to the environment when sanding and also volatile compounds when painting is avoided. At this point, AIMPLAS has ended the experimental part where microwave absorbers and gelcoats previously selected by the partners are added to resins. Three different susceptors (microwave absorbers) have been tested in variable proportions. These susceptors have no need to be added to certain types of resins in order to improve the absorption of microwaves. The results have been successful as, in all the cases, a reduction of more than 50% curing time has been achieved.
As Nora Lardiés, AIMPLAS’ Main Researcher for the project explains, “The pultrusion manufacturing process is a continuous system where glass fibre reinforcement is impregnated with resin at one end of a closed and heated mould is introduced. The resin cures inside the mould so by the other end the profile comes off perfectly cured. In COALINE we expect to coat the profile inside the mould, in other words, to apply the paint inside the mould so we will save time and we will not be emitting solid particles from the sanding or VOC (volatile organic compound) from the paint and the primer. It will be a cheaper, cleaner and more effective process,” assures Lardiés.
COALINE partners, ACCIONA and ALKÈ, will act as final users; ACCIONA will use the profiles obtained by the new production method, such as stiffening beams in the building sector, while ALKÈ will apply them in the structure of electric cars. German partner Fraunhofer, in collaboration with the company Muegge, has already designed and built the microwave antenna that will be put together with the modular mould. Partner Rescoll is working in the formulation of the primer and the adhesive, with the possibility of debonding when being heated.
Photo provided by AIMPLAS.
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