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Researchers at the University of Maine’s Advanced Engineered Wood Composites Center have developed a new composite fabrication process that they hope will revolutionize the industry.
Their method involves the use of applied pressure to infuse polymer resins into fabrics, wood, concrete, ceramics and other materials to produce stronger, more durable composites for the marine, automotive, construction industries and others.
Barry Goodell, a professor of wood science and technology in the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry and Agriculture; Roberto Lopez-Anido, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering in the College of Engineering, and Ben Herzog, a former UMaine grad student now working as a scientist with APA – The Engineered Wood Association, were granted a patent for their Composites Pressure Resin Infusion System, or ComPRIS.
The process promises distinct advantages over such conventional methods as hand layup and vacuum resin transfer, the researchers say. The use of pressure produces a more consistent, evenly distributed resin infusion that saves both money and labour and is environmentally safer than other methods. It also allows fabricators to produce more complex infusions, including simultaneous laminating and reinforcement of other materials.
Goodell, one of the four founding faculty members of UMaine’s composites centre, says the ComPRIS technology can produce very thick composite products without the microscopic voids caused by a vacuum process. Wood products can also be reinforced and laminated at the same time. When properly infiltrated with resin, wood becomes more stable and decay-resistant, thereby eliminating or reducing the need for preservative treatments.
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