Correspondent Roger Renstrom gathered these items at Composites '96, held Oct. 2-5 in Dallas. Firms are responding slowly to a survey on workplace exposure to styrene.
``We've received about 200 responses so far out of the tens of thousands of people who utilize polyester resins,'' Stephen McNally, director of government affairs for the Composites Fabricators Association, said at Composites '96.
In February, a trade-industry coalition joined with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to implement a permissible exposure limit of 50 parts per million for the monomer styrene on an eight-hour time weighted average by July 1997. The groups agreed to obtain information on usage before July 1996 and again a year later.
Beginning in May, the CFA, Composites Institute, Inter-national Cast Polymer Associa-tion and National Marine Manufacturers Association distributed a brochure with a detachable ``5-second survey'' to members and nonmembers.
``We went through resin manufacturers downhill through distribution arms to all customers'' but received only ``a minuscule response,'' he said.
The association is seeking further responses, but ``we can end up looking like we are in better shape before we began the process than after it,'' McNally said.
Marketing of the Seeman Composites Resin Infusion Molding Process continues with Sarasota, Fla.-based power boat builder Wellcraft Marine planning soon to introduce the technology on one of its lines.
Scrimp Systems LLC signed up Wellcraft and two other companies this year, bringing the total to 30 commercial licensees.
In addition, ``we have two new distributors,'' Jono Billings, Scrimp Systems managing director, said at Composites '96. CMI/Composite Materials Inc. of Santa Fe Springs, Calif., licenses users in the western United States, and Plastics Maritime in Halifax, Nova Scotia, covers Canada.
TPI Composites Inc. of Warren, R.I., Seeman Composites Inc. of Gulfport, Miss., and Hardcore Composites LLC formed Scrimp Systems to license the technology to make large composite parts inexpensively. Billings joined the Carolina, R.I., limited liability company in June and gives seminars on how to use Scrimp.
Venus-Gusmer introduced the Flow Chop System as a spin-off of its conventional flow coater nozzle.
``We shoot resin through 30 individual streams or jets,'' Robert Clay, sales manager, said.``We have a lot less [volatile organic compound] emissions because we use streams of resin in a fan pattern.''
Venus-Gus-mer moved the nozzle holes closer together to reduce the drop-through of reinforcement. Using the special nozzle configuration, the Flow Chop System deposits 1.25-inch chop strands into the fan pattern to be carried down the part. The configuration adds $250 to the cost of a typical chopper unit.
Venus-Gusmer employs 70 at a 63,000-square-foot facility in Kent, Wash., and is a unit of Phil Kam-ins' PMC Inc. in Sun Valley, Calif.
Ferro Corp. introduced the first generation of a high-performance, low volatile-organic-compound gel coat that contains Eastman Chemical's neo pentyl glycol in an orthophthalic resin base.
``The product lowers the VOCs on a spray gel coat by 40-60 percent versus a standard gel coat,'' said Marty Lester, FRP operation sales manager for Ferro's liquid coatings and dispersions division in Plymouth, Ind. Low VOC gel coat has a 28-30 percent monomer content and a gel time of 10-18 minutes.
``We are working on development of generation two using an NPG isophthalic base,'' Lester said.
Contemporary Products Inc. is exploring alternative molding processes to make custom composite parts.
``We want to get away from processing that causes environmental concerns,'' Russell Fisher, chief executive officer, said at Composites '96. ``We are backing away from pre-wet layup and looking at other options such as vacuum bagging or close molding processes.''
Contemporary Products molds high-end close-tolerance parts, often enclosures, for medical equipment, tractor and agricultural applications and lift-truck components.
The company employs 90 in Menomonee Falls, Wis., at a new 22,000-square-foot technical center and four other facilities occupying a total of 52,500 square feet for tool and die, molding, clean room and shipping activities.
The tech center was opened in May by Contemporary Products. It employs six there.
A Mexican association plans to release a plastics industry survey in December.
``This is the first time for such a report,'' Luis Enrique San-doval Gomez said at the Composites '96 exhibit of the Mexico City-based National Association of Reinforced Plas-tics Industries.
``We have 100 members in all disciplines including fabricators, molders and suppliers,'' said Sandoval, the association treasurer, ``and we try to get people to know what is going on in Mexico.''
The group will distribute the report in Spanish and English.
Gruber Systems displayed an updated Infinity design of a two-person bathtub with eight hydrotherapy nozzles.
``We supply the tooling and molds for customers such as Bonanza and Venetian Marble,'' Louis Suarez, vice president of manufacturing for Gruber, said.
The design is being offered in the Texas market.
Also, Gruber displayed samples of its filled-granule 400 and 500 solid-surface materials to produce vanity tops and sinks.
Sales of Granatex 600, a spray process to create a granite look, are ``going well'' with ``some distribution in China,'' Suarez said. Gruber introduced the spray process last year.
Gruber employs 165 and makes molds, material handling equipment and automatic casting ma-chines in a 100,000-square-foot facility in Valencia, Calif. A unit of Dexter Corp.'s magnetic materials division is marketing a one-step sprayable polymer release system with a new resin formulation. The agent goes by the acronym SOLO for spray-on-and-leave-on.
As the newest Frekote release agent, SOLO is designed to release all fiberglass reinforced and filled polyester composites, according to Jeff Payne, marketing and research and development manager for distributor programs on Frekote products and Hysol structural adhesives.
Dexter makes the materials and systems in an 80,000-square-foot building in Seabrook, N.H.Robert Lacovara, technical director of the Composites Fabricators Association, projected some possibilities for production of polymer composites in a computer-assisted presentation, ``Beyond 2000: The New Composites Paradigm,'' at Composites '96.
In theory, a combination of polymer-bound co-reactants and molecular grafting could produce materials with exceedingly long shelf lives and flexible curing properties, Lacovara speculated.
Polymer-bound technology could be custom-tailored and conditioned not to react until release of a trigger that could be ultraviolet, heat or microwaves. He said the ideal application would take advantage of manipulating properties to direct the molecules to very specific ends.
Lacovara envisioned the possibility of a monomer to eliminate styrene, curing of resins at will, development of more tightly controlled applicators, instant bonding of parts and exclusive computer creation of tool designs.
He discussed resin application methods and suggested the benefits of a pre-process handling of resins in polyester or vinyl ester prepreg and chopped strand mat.
Lacovara said the CFA's job is to bring the mature portion of the industry toward the emerging roots of future markets and applications.n Interplastic Corp. will turn on a new 50 million-pound reactor at its Silmar resins division in Fort Wright, Ky., in January, according to Terry McCabe, technical marketing director of Interplastic's commercial resins division in St. Paul, Minn.