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Milliken’s Tegris Composite Rides the Waves of Success

  • Monday, 19th November 2007
  • Reading time: about 3 minutes

Milliken’s Tegris composite is riding the waves of success as the material behind one of the lightest, toughest personal watercraft available on the kayak market.

The use of Tegris to produce Legacy Paddlesports’ Ultimate Kayak results from significant product and process developments for Milliken’s 100% polypropylene (PP) composite and close collaboration between Milliken and Legacy Paddlesports of Greensboro, North Carolina, USA.

Tegris composite material is characterised by its high stiffness to weight ratio and exceptional impact performance, making it ideal for watersports, armour and motorsports applications. Since its launch at K 2004, Milliken has worked extensively to further develop the technology for commercial use through flat sheet innovations, moulding process developments, adhesion advances and film-based surface finish innovations, allowing customers to tailor material properties and provide a drop-in replacement to conventional products.

The Ultimate Kayak is the first commercial application to feature formed, large, three-dimensional parts made from Tegris fabric. Legacy’s advanced boat design has received significant accolades from the industry. To produce this model in the Tegris material Milliken created a specific mould based on a machined aluminium tool and a poured silicone plug. The shape of the plug ensures the fabric achieves full contact with the aluminium tool once under pressure in the mould which is key to producing top quality parts.

For the kayak, Milliken developed an attractive, diamond weave fabric with good drape and mouldability. Silver fabric was chosen for its improved UV durability relative to the natural white fabric also offered by Milliken.

To boost the abrasion resistance of the Tegris material and prevent UV surface degradation, Milliken proposed the use of a specially developed film technology which allows film to be moulded onto the Tegris fabric surface during the part forming process. The film allows easy colouration, with Legacy selecting olive- or gold-coloured interior and exterior films for the Ultimate Kayak.

“We have worked diligently during the past year to develop a process with Milliken for manufacturing reliable high performance kayaks,” notes Andy Zimmerman, President and CEO of Legacy Paddlesports. “We are now confident we can deliver the highest quality kayaks with Tegris composite and are excited about providing access to paddling for consumers to whom light weight and strength are exceptionally important.”

Dr. Heather Hayes, Senior Technologist at Milliken comments on Tegris composite’s multiple market success: “Milliken’s Tegris composite material is enjoying commercial success in numerous markets primarily due to several key technology developments. As highlighted by the Legacy kayak, the moulding process that was established to form Tegris fabric into well-consolidated 3-D parts has allowed the creation of parts which can capitalize on the stiff, lightweight and impact resistant material. This, together with the film technologies developed for Tegris fabric, makes a wide range of tailored options available to customers interested in adopting Tegris composite for their specific application needs.”

Tegris composite technology is based on highly engineered tape with an extensively drawn polypropylene interlayer sandwiched between lower melting polypropylene skins. The interior layer delivers the high stiffness property to the material while the skin layer acts as the matrix material bonding the composite together with the application of heat and pressure.

Aptiform, the moulding division of NetComposites, has also worked extensively on Milliken’s Tegris material and has developed the capability to mould complex components from this unique family of materials.

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