UK glass fiber specialist MPM had positive news last month and announced that the company anticipated a major 40% growth in 2016. Liz Nickels spoke to director Ben Wilson about what the company expects for 2017.

The year 2016 ended with some positive news for UK business. Glass reinforced plastic manufacturer MPM reported that it was ‘set for its best year ever’ as the company anticipated 40% growth at the end of 2016. (In 2015 growth was 25% by the end of the year.) Expansion plans are already underway to open up another 4,000 ft2 of manufacturing space, and further recruitment for the company is reportedly in the pipeline.

MPM, based in West Yorkshire, specializes in glass fiber molds, resin transfer molding, general glass fiber part production and pattern making for companies such as Trojan Plastics, MX Trays, Hangfast and Ginetta Cars.

The company offers a glass fiber mold service from the drawing concept to designing, producing and commissioning closed mold tooling. As well as manufacturing the composite part itself it also consults on the range of complex materials to be considered. MPM offer glass fiber moldings in either high or low volume for a wide variety of projects, from bath panels, shower trays, ambulance parts, wheel chair access ramps and water tanks.

The pieces are bolted together to make the final mold and makes removal of the final part of the mold possible. The aim is to make the surface of the mold as smooth and glossy as possible – if the surface quality of the mold is like a mirror then the product will match. The extra care taken in making the mold will reap rewards when the final parts are produced later and in the longevity of life in the mold.

The company also offers wet lay up, hand application of chopped strand mat glass fibers with a resin, which is then consolidated to remove all air cavities to form the laminate. When a resin (in a polyester, vinyl ester or fire retardant format) is added to the glass fibers it becomes a material with improved strength and adaptability. The resins commonly used are made from unsaturated polyesters dissolved in styrene, and various types of resin can be produced. It is also possible to create bespoke polyesters to fit specific requirements. Several layers can be applied until the desired amount of glass fiber is achieved. In some cases glass fiber rovings are applied instead of chopped strands to reduce the thickness.

According to MPM, highly skilled labor is necessary for effective wet lay up. ‘In our experience if you use and aim for low-mid level skill it always affects the quality.’

MPM also offers a spray lay-up technique uses a spray gun, to spray pressurized resin and reinforcement in the form of chopped fibers. Generally, glass roving is used and is passed through the spray gun where it is chopped. The matrix (generally polyester resin is used) and reinforcement are sprayed at the same time. This is suitable for lower load carrying parts such as small boats, bathtubs, truck fairings.

This article appeared in the Sept/Oct issue of Reinforced Plastics.

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