To that end, Reichhold Inc., Research Triangle Park, N.C., recently developed POLYLITE 31325-00, a low-viscosity unsaturated polyester that includes a green resin chemistry — 25 percent soy oil-based — that cost-effectively replaces glycol in bulk molding compound composites. Customers are using POLYLITE in several applications, including Class A body panels on agricultural equipment and automobiles, says John Ilkka, the company’s closed mold business development manager.

At NoVOC Performance Resins LLC, Sheboygan, Wis., which launched its first green resin in 1998, a significant portion of business comes from the sale of its no-styrene resins to the infrastructure rehabilitation market, says Rich Anders, the firm’s corporate technical director. NoVOC has its own lining division and has designed premium cured-in-place pipe liners for small-diameter potable water pipes, as well as styrene-free liners for larger-diameter sewer pipes. Anders says the green resins in both liners enable more efficient installation, with less hot water needed for cure and less overall energy required to install. “It’s a never-ending effort to go to the next level of resin formulation,” Anders says.

Innovation in Thermoset

Suppliers are also making advancements in the two major categories of resins for composites—thermoset and thermoplastic. Thermoset resins such as epoxy, polyester and polyurethane, which are easier to process and are generally better suited for higher temperatures than thermoplastics, seem especially ripe for progression, they say.

Many suppliers are introducing new thermoset resins that help composites manufacturers lower costs and deliver customized solutions to their clients.