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Bayer Corporation Announces Completion Of Long Fiber Technology Lab To Develop Composite SRIM Applications

Bayer MaterialScience AG : 02 August, 2001  (Company News)
Bayer Corporation announced today that it has completed the addition of a fully- automated Long Fiber Technology Lab at its Polyurethane Application Development Center in Pittsburgh.
The state-of-the-art facility positions Bayer's Polyurethanes Division to promote the use of polyurethane structural reaction injection molding (SRIM) engineering resins in tandem with long glass fiber reinforcement to produce high-strength composite parts.

Bayer will utilize the lab for its internal development programs and to assist customers in developing their own composite applications using Bayer's Baydur« polyurethane SRIM formulations.

An addition to Bayer's existing capabilities with long fiber technology, equipment in the new lab includes the following:

The first Class I, DIV2 robot of its type in the world. This industrial robot will handle the polyurethane mixhead and glass chopper. It is rated to work in close proximity to combustible materials, which includes some polyurethane in-mold coatings;

A 150-ton long fiber injection press with glass chopper and mixhead;

A 4-foot by 6-foot platen, which is large enough to support molds for most development projects;

In-mold coating equipment; and,

Standard polyurethane reinforced reaction injection molding (RRIM) resin storage, pumping and metering equipment.

For worker and fire safety, all of this equipment is located in an enclosure with dedicated ventilation and fire safety systems.

Market Opportunities

There are significant opportunities to utilize long fiber technology in several market areas such as automotive, agricultural and heavy-duty construction equipment and heavy trucks. Composite parts are an increasingly attractive alternative to steel and other polymers in these markets.

'We also see long fiber technology as one alternative for composites fabricators that must comply with styrene emission limits announced earlier this year by the federal government,' said Harry George, Manager of Bayer's Specialty RIM Business. 'Many of these fabricators use polyester resin in hand-spraying operations, and the styrene emission limits may be a barrier to expanding their operations. Long fiber technology with polyurethane RIM engineering resins does not produce styrene emissions, and it can be used to produce many of the composite parts now produced with polyester resin.'

The unique benefits of long fiber technology include:

ability to utilize lower-cost fiberglass rovings rather than mats, which also reduces troublesome worker handling of the mats;

ability to vary the amount of fiberglass reinforcement in the part to focus high strength where it is most needed;

ability to use either a foamed or solid polyurethane formulation; and,

ability to produce polyurethane SRIM parts with polyurethane in-mold coating, thus eliminating secondary painting operations.

Polyurethane processing equipment makers developed and commercialized long fiber technology in recent years. The technology injects long glass fibers along with the polyurethane resin in a one-step process. It replaces the traditional two-step process of inserting preforms and/or fiberglass mats into the mold and then pouring the polyurethane resin over the preform or mat.

In long fiber technology a fiberglass chopper is attached to the polyurethane dispensing mixhead, which is attached to a robot. The robot is programmed to move over the open mold cavity while simultaneously dispensing both the long glass fibers and the polyurethane SRIM resin in an open-pour method. At the end of the pour, the mold is closed to form the part. Long fiber technology is helping to automate the polyurethane SRIM process for producing composite parts, which is making parts more economical to produce via this method.
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