RM2's polyurethane composite pallet resolves many of the issues related to traditional wooden pallets.
RM2's polyurethane composite pallet resolves many of the issues related to traditional wooden pallets.
Polyurethane composite utility poles are much lighter than steel poles and easier to transport and erect. They are also non-conductive and rust-resistant.
Polyurethane composite utility poles are much lighter than steel poles and easier to transport and erect. They are also non-conductive and rust-resistant.
Romeo RIM has produced a prototype agricultural combine side panel measuring 111 x 73 x 5 inches using Bayer polyurethane. It has a Class A surface direct from the mould.
Romeo RIM has produced a prototype agricultural combine side panel measuring 111 x 73 x 5 inches using Bayer polyurethane. It has a Class A surface direct from the mould.

Composite pallet outperforms wood

Traditional wooden shipping pallets splinter, warp, and absorb moisture, which can lead to contamination. RM2, a Luxembourg-headquartered company specialising in pallet development, manufacture, supply and management, has developed a polyurethane composite pallet that resolves many of these issues. The BLOCKPal™ pallet is pultruded from Bayer Baydur® PUL 2500 two-component polyurethane resin and is strong, durable, paintable, and rot-resistant.

RM2 produces the pallets in house. The company pultrudes three basic profiles (feet, slats and channels), paints the feet a distinctive yellow, applies an anti-skid coating, and assembles the pallets.

The RM2 pallet is said to offer significant benefits over the polymer and wooden pallets currently available. It has a high strength to weight ratio and offers very good levels of impact strength. BLOCKPal meets UL2335 standards for fire retardancy.

Unlike pallets made from wood, RM2's testing of the BLOCKPal pallet indicates it is not subject to contamination from bacteria or insects, or splintering caused by rough or repeated handling. The company estimates that BLOCKPal pallets are up to 20 times more durable than wooden pallets. This extended pallet service life minimises costly workflow interruptions and also helps reduce the need to constantly replace traditional wood pallets. In fact, RM2's business model is based around leasing its composite pallets to customers, which then do not incur the cost of purchasing and replacing pallets outright.

“Our innovation in materials and design enables our innovation in economics,” explains Niall Carson, business development, RM2.

“Because our composite pallets are significantly more durable, we can provide significant economic benefits to our customer base.”

The BLOCKPal pallet is available in the standard 1200 mm x 1000 mm, 1200 mm x 800 mm, 1165 mm x 1165 mm and 48" x 40" footprints. Bespoke sizes are available for specialised applications.

As well as supplying the custom polyurethane resin system for this project, Bayer also provided pultrusion tooling and process support, part design recommendations, material enhancements and on-site process support. Bayer has developed injection box technology to thoroughly impregnate the reinforcing fibres with polyurethane resin that is continuously metered.

Corrosion-resistant utility poles

A 10 ft section of a polyurethane composite utility pole was on display during CAMX, the first trade show jointly organised by the American Composites Manufacturers Association (ACMA) and the Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering (SAMPE). The pole was manufactured by RS Technologies using the filament winding process.

Polyurethane composite allows for a strong product that is much lighter than steel, making the utility poles easier to transport and erect. The pole is also non-conductive and resistant to rust.

Creative Pultrusions Inc also manufactures polyurethane composite high-voltage transmission cross arms and utility poles. It uses the pultrusion process and an integrated coating technology.

In the traditional pultrusion process a part is pultruded and then a coating applied to provide resistance to UV degradation. Creative Pultrusions and Powder Coating Solutions, a specialist in equipment for powder coating  non-conductive substrates, asked Bayer to help develop an integrated pultrusion and coating process. The system developed has Powder Coating Solutions' Pultrucoater™ equipment in-line with the pultrusion equipment. All process steps – mixing materials, pultruding, curing, coating and cutting – are completed in one continuous operation, eliminating the potentially costly and time-consuming secondary coating application.

"Corrosion issues cost owners and users significantly through down time, outages and future capital expenditures," says Shane Weyant, CEO and president of Creative Pultrusions.

"This innovative approach addresses those issues, enabling the electrical utility, transportation, oil and gas, and infrastructure markets to greatly benefit from polyurethane pultrusion."

Creative Pultrusions has also used this coating technology in the manufacture of polyurethane composite pipe pilings which are designed to withstand aggressive marine environments.

Large panel

Also on display at Bayer's CAMX booth was a 9.5 ft by 6 ft concept agricultural vehicle panel manufactured by Romeo RIM from polyurethane composite using the LFT (long fibre thermoplastic) process.

According to Romeo RIM, a part made using polyurethane and the LFT process can be up to 40-50% lighter than those made from sheet moulding compound (SMC) but still have similar mechanical properties. Another benefit of the LFT process is the ability to produce a high-gloss surface directly out of the mould, eliminating the need for secondary painting operations.

The combine prototype panel is produced in a 400 ton, 12 ft x 12 ft double shuttle press, which Romeo Rim believes is the largest LFT press in the world. For structural support the panel features moulded-in ribs two to three times the nominal wall thickness with little to no read-through on the agricultural Class A surface, the company reports.

What are polyurethanes?

Polyurethanes derive from a chemical reaction of a diisocyanate with a polyol. Due to the variety of diisocyanates and the wide range of polyols a broad spectrum of materials can be produced – with specific properties – tailored to meet specific needs.

Depending on the chemical formulation, the consistencies and properties of polyurethanes can vary greatly – ranging from flexible or rigid foams, binders, integral skin foams, composites to thermoplastic polyurethanes.

Polyurethanes can therefore be used in upholstery, mattresses, car seats, thermal insulation for buildings and the refrigeration chain, wheels, rollers, bodywork parts, coatings, adhesives and many other products.

Bayer MaterialScience composites are polyurethane systems that are processed in combination with fillers and short, long or continuous fibres into moulded parts or coatings. The polyurethane is applied to a substrate using either a spraying, casting, liquid resin press moulding or conventional composite manufacturing process.

Polyurethane composites have excellent mechanical properties and high impact resistance, even at extremely low temperatures. All polyurethane materials are also solvent and styrene free.

(Source: Bayer.)

During the LFT process long glass fibre are chopped and injected into an open mould along with polyurethane resin in a one-step process. A fibreglass chopper is attached to the polyurethane dispensing mixhead, which is attached to a robot. The robot is programmed to move over the open mould cavity while simultaneously dispensing both the long glass fibres and the polyurethane resin in as open-pour method. At the end of the pour, the mould is closed and the part is formed.

Use of a sprayable in-mould coating, also provided by Bayer, results in an agricultural Class A surface right out of the mould.

In addition to the agricultural market, Class A surface LFT parts could also find applications in the building and construction sector, and in mass transit and heavy trucks.

And more ...

Numerous other examples of polyurethane composite products developed in collaboration with customers were also on display, including:

  • a compressed natural gas storage vessel manufactured using the filament winding and resin transfer moulding (RTM) processes;
  • a lightweight, weather-resistant manhole cover manufactured by GMI Composites Inc using RTM;
  • residential home siding panels made via the long fibre injection process and designed to replace wood and other materials currently used; and
  • a durable, impact-resistant residential front door with a composite skin designed and moulded by JELD-WEN. ♦