SAN ANTONIO — Owens Corning is putting its market reach and brand name behind a Pennsylvania firm's integrated systems for closed molding of large, complex shapes.
Owens Corning of Toledo, Ohio, and Pyramid Operating Systems of Greenville, Pa., have signed a sales, marketing and application development agreement, the firms announced at Composites '98, held Oct. 20-24 in San Antonio.
Pyramid has created a Virtual Engineered Composites operating system. VEC ``enabled us to build a work cell that we are able to transfer into any commercial or industrial site and begin producing parts in three working days,'' said Gene Kirila, chief executive officer.
The actual cell is licensed to the customer, with payment on a per-part, valued-added basis reflecting the processor's operational savings, he said. No set price list exists.
Sensors and meters in the portable, self-contained system remain linked electronically with Pyramid through constant Web-based monitoring of the process, temperatures, flow rates, viscosity and other technical variables.
The center ``can provide on-time, real-time technical service,'' said Glenn Sandgren, marketing manager in Lebanon, Ohio, with Owens Corning's composites systems business unit.
``We'll be able to take a peak exotherm curve,'' Sandgren said. ``That technical data is what is missing [in a typical process]. We kid about it, but it is an EKG on making the part.''
``When you pull the mold into a work cell, the work cell by radio frequency and hard wire actually recognizes the mold brought in,'' Kirila said. ``It tells them the shot load size [and] what glass reinforcement goes into the mold itself.''
Owens Corning has exclusive rights to sell, market and develop new VEC applications. A user's license agreement covers hardware and software and, potentially, a certification on mold building for the system.
Pyramid was formed in 1984, began working on the technology in 1990 and built a demonstration plant in Greenville two years ago. Now, Kirila has his ``whole life dedicated to VEC.'' Kirila and 13 others own Pyramid.
The firm employs more than 90 and may add 100 people for technical support, though not necessarily at Greenville.
``Our goal is to have the best molecule bender or chemist in the world [on a] particular resin system to be wired on our Web,'' Kirila said. ``So when we have analytical issues, he can be sitting in Texas and be wired right into a problem on the floor in California.''
Sandgren noted that VEC is ``a very modular kind of system because we may provide molds.''
``We may provide design services. We may provide the entire resin package,'' he said. ``[Those aspects are] not in the plans, but you have to be very flexible on customer needs.''