ORLANDO, FLA. — Resin and equipment suppliers and distributors are preparing for coming federal regulations on styrene monomer emissions, officials said in interviews at Composites '97 in Orlando.
Reichhold Chemicals Inc. may introduce a limited number of low-styrene products during 1998, according to spokesman Phil Bridges.
``Our technical folks are working on products to address the issue, especially in the area of open molding, which is where the largest part of our polyester business is,'' he said.
Reichhold's research and development facility is in Research Triangle Park, N.C.
McWhorter Technologies Inc.'s composite polymer group is working on lower-styrene traditional polyesters, said Gerhard Bohme, Midwest business manager in Carpentersville, Ill.
Now, McWhorter markets a full line of laminating resins with 65 percent styrene content. As for new developments, ``We hope to get something out in the next year or two,'' he said.
The Environmental Protection Agency is developing standards for reinforced plastics and boat manufacturing for 2000, with mandatory compliance within three years after adoption.
Cook Composites and Polymers Co. of Kansas City, Mo., this year introduced gel coats with low-volatile organic compound properties.
``Low-styrene resins have been around for a couple of years, but we have not been able to do it with gel coats until very recently,'' said Brent Baker, Cook's national market manager for the polymer casting industry. ``The whole industry is moving toward low-VOC gel coats.''
The new CCP products are Lovocor 962 for the tub and shower industry and Lovocor 963 for marine uses.
Equipment supplier Venus-Gusmer Inc. of Kent, Wash., has refined a Flowchop technology that it introduced last year as a ``way to deposit materials in much the same way as with the conventional spray chop technology,'' said sales manager Robert Clay. The resin is dispensed through a shower-head-style series of orifices.
`We've done refinements on chute configuration on our spray chop'' to improve reliability and durability for deposit of unfilled resin into a mold, perhaps for a boat, he said. The system breaks up glass and deposits material along individual streams. But use for dry fillers has posed a problem.
``We are looking at ways to expand the technology into high-volume and filled applications,'' Clay said.
Equipment maker Magnum Industries in Clearwater, Fla., plans by year-end to introduce six more tip designs for filled-resin applications, said Tom Hedger, vice president for manufacturing and product development for spray-up and dispensing equipment lines.
The new styles complement Magnum's existing 14 chopper tips, which have various orientations of holes, hole sizes and micron sizes to process different fillers.
Hedger said more of the company's boat-building customers are thinking about changing delivery systems now than three years ago when Magnum introduced chopper guns and tips.
``The product did not take off [then] because the pressure [on end users] didn't seem to be as high as it is now,'' he said.
Glas-Craft Inc. of Indianapolis is marketing an external system that combines the mixing catalyst and polyester resin outside the gun. There are no solvents and ``no flushing to worry about,'' said Jerry Crawford, marketing services manager.
Don Hairhoger foresees a ``big push to nonstyrene resin'' and ``reinforcements that will wet out and perform with nonstyrene resin.'' Hairhoger is vice president and national sales manager in Rock Hill, S.C., for distributor Composites Materials Inc.
``We are putting pressure on our suppliers to come up with new products that take advantage of low-styrene systems,'' said James Chickowski, marketing manager with the fiber-reinforced plastics supply division of Ashland Chemical Co. in Columbus, Ohio.
Chickowski is not sure that the total message about the styrene issue has reached the distributor's customers yet.
Robert Lacovara, technical director for the Arlington, Va.-based Composites Fabricators Association, noted that use of flow coater or pressure-fed technology can cut 90 percent of VOC emissions generated with spraying equipment.
A downside: There is no way yet to do gel coating with similar results, according CFA's Lacovara. The industry faces a challenge in finding an alternate way to distribute chopped glass, he said.