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The American Composites Manufacturing Association (ACMA) 2009 ACE Award for Technical Innovation for Corrosion Applications was awarded to Kenway for its FRP Abrasion/Corrosion Resistant Blind Flange.
While the 1,200lb composite flange used in a power industry flue gas desulphurization project is impressive in its own right, the technological innovation is actually the process Kenway Corporation used to manufacture the component. Typically, composite parts that measure over 5½” thick warp significantly during traditional open-moulding manufacturing, resulting in costly post-machining. But a new nanotechnology, combined with Kenway’s proprietary vacuum infusion process, now allows for single session infusions of high fibre-content structural laminates exceeding 6” in thickness without degrading the structural properties of the laminate or causing the typical warping, something which is a challenge for traditional inhibitor-based systems.
In fact, Kenway has demonstrated that it can maintain tolerances of less than 0.005” per foot while using this process. As a result of this technology, Kenway was able to manufacture a part which exceeded the customer’s technical specifications while also dramatically reducing manufacturing costs, thereby making the company far more competitive in the marketplace.
Kenway achieved this technological advance with significant contributions from team members. Vacuum infusion expert Andre Cocquyt consulted with Kenway throughout the project, developing how best to combine the nanotechnology advances with the vacuum infusion manufacturing process. Also participating were experts from Arkema Chemical, Cook Composite Polymers, and Ashland Chemical.
An additional key contributor to Kenway’s technological advance has been the Maine Technology Institute. In October, 2007 Kenway received an MTI Development Award specifically to focus on growing this vacuum infusion manufacturing expertise and to make the process commercially viable when compared with traditional manufacturing methods and materials. This funding has been essential to Kenway Corporation organizing the team of experts which has allowed for this advance and will allow for further commercial progress. This MTI-funded R&D work is ongoing at Kenway.
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