Fiberite Inc. has added a technologically advanced prepreg to its product line and is aiming the low-styrene material at boat builders. The hybrid epoxy resin does not flow during cure. ``We believe the technology has strong applications for the marine industry,'' James Ashton, chief executive officer, said in a telephone interview.
Fiberite uses recently acquired Swiss technology in manufacturing the material on an Italian-made prototype machine that was relocated to a Tempe, Ariz., facility.
Fiberite business manager John Beard said the low-temperature-curing system allows precise control of resin ratios, improves engineering properties in the finished laminate and eliminates the ``vagaries of wet lay-up processes.''
Fiberite will market its new product line, designated ONS, for boat builders and others to use for lay-up applications. The industry now relies on unsaturated polyester and vinyl ester resins that emit styrene monomers. The Environmental Protection Agency regulates styrene as a hazardous air pollutant and is developing a ``maximum available control technology'' standard for the open molding composites industry.
ONS has no free styrene and almost no volatile ingredients.
Polyethylene barrier film protects both sides of each uncured ONS sheet. The applicator peels off the film when rolling sheets into place and can build the laminate to a desired thickness.
``No application of liquid resin is involved,'' Beard said, ``and a controlled heat-driven cure cycle is employed after the layup is completed.''
The material half-cures at 120§ F and fully cures at 175§ F. Sub-structures can be half-cured and kept for later joining and final cure.
``The result is greatly improved bond strengths between hulls and stringer grids, bulkheads and decks,'' Beard said. ``Finished laminates are stiffer and more resistant to osmotic blistering.''
Fiberite will make ONS with any form of glass or fiber reinforcement.
Using the same resin system, Fiberite will make a low-density, syntactic foam in a pliable sheet for use as a core to increase laminate stiffness.
On April 25, Fiberite purchased worldwide licensing rights from the technology development group Liguistica SA of Lugano, Switzerland, and its founder Michael Trimming, a naval architect and marine engineer.
Tempe-based Fiberite supplies short- and long-fiber-reinforced molding compounds using phenolic, epoxy, bismaleimide, melamine and silicone resins. It operates facilities in Winona, Minn.; Delano, Pa.; Orange, Calif.; Greenville, Texas; Ostringen, Germany; and Corcelles-Les-Lens, France. A partnership of DLJ Merchant Banking of New York and Carlisle Enterprises L.P. of La Jolla, Calif., acquired Fiberite from Imperial Chemical Industries plc in October 1995.