Materials firm PlastiComp Inc. has installed a new pultrusion line for long-carbon-fiber-reinforced composites in Winona, Minn.
The firm began making long carbon fiber materials in 2014 and now has five production lines for those products, officials with Winona-based PlastiComp said in a news release.
In the release, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Eric Wollan added that the new higher volume carbon fiber pultrusion line will triple PlastiComp's capacity for producing long carbon fiber products. The new line also will ensure "an uninterruptable supply chain for our partners," he said.
To provide a safe operating environment and minimize downtime, officials said that PlastiComp makes its carbon-fiber composites on pultrusion lines located in self-contained areas equipped with isolated electrical and air handling systems.
"From a pultrusion perspective, carbon fiber's small filament diameter and conductivity makes it a little more challenging to manufacture composite pellets than other types of fiber," Wollan explained. "Using our specialized equipment, PlastiComp is able to completely melt impregnate continuous tows of carbon fiber with 12,000 to 50,000 filaments."
Officials added that long-carbon-fiber-reinforced thermoplastic composites provide the strongest and stiffest performance available in flowable materials suitable for injection molding processing. The materials can be combined into a broad range of thermoplastic matrices ranging from polypropylene to PEEK.
Long-carbon-fiber composites offer mechanical performance equivalent to aluminum while providing design dependent weight reductions up to 50 percent, officials said. Applications range from aerospace to sporting goods and many other markets.
PlastiComp operates two plants covering a total of 115,000 square feet in Winona.