AIMPLAS says that it has reached the mid-point of the European COALINE project, which aims to develop a new profile manufacturing method for the building and automotive industries using pultrusion.

The research has led to a breakthrough by which it will be possible to carry out the whole process in only one step, including the application of the primer or paint produced inside the mold, the organization claimed.

The new manufacturing process that is being developed allows not only the reduction of labor force needed when producing, but also the number of steps in the process, such as the sanding and the painting or primer application. This makes it 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, AIMPLAS said.

At this point, AIMPLAS has finished the experimental part of the research in which microwaves absorbers and gelcoats previously selected by the partners are added to resins. Three different susceptors (microwaves absorbers) have been tested in variable proportions. It is now necessary to add these susceptors to certain types of resins in order to improve the absorption of microwaves. In all cases so far a reduction of the curing time in more than 50% has been achieved. 

Time saving process

‘The pultrusion manufacturing process is a continuous system where a glass fiber reinforcement impregnated with resin at one end of a closed and heated mold is introduced,’ said Nora Lardiés, main researcher of the project at AIMPLAS. ‘The resin cures inside the mold so by the other end the profile comes off perfectly cured.’ Using this new process, users can ‘apply the paint inside the mold 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,’ Lardiés said.

Two partners in the research, Acciona and Alkè now plan to make use of the technology. 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 Muegge, has already designed and built the microwave antenna that will be put together with the modular mold, while Rescoll is working in the formulation of the primer and the adhesive, with the possibility of debonding when being heated. 

The COALINE project, which is funded as part of the seventh framework program of the European Union, began in September 2013 and lasts 42 months. 

This story is reprinted from material from AIMPLAS, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.