A crowd of industry professionals from around the world flocked to Monday’s CAMX 2016 pre-conference tutorial on pultrusion technology led by Clement Hiel of Composite Support & Solutions Inc. and Robert Plagemann of Tecton Products LLC. Plagemann began the session by outlining the many advantages of pultruded materials, including:
- High strength/low weight
- Corrosion/rot resistance
- Dimensional stability
- Electro-magnetic transparency
- Parts consolidation
While pultrusion is often used to manufacture applications such as pipes and utility poles, Plagemann talked about an everyday product with widespread potential – window and door frames. He says that dimensional stability is one of the attributes that attracts the fenestration industry: FRP has a low coefficient of thermal expansion – one-third that of aluminum and ten times less than PVC, says Plagemann. “It’s a very thermostable material,” he stresses.
Parts consolidation is another big advantage, says Plagemann, who passed around a piece of a double hung window frame that is pultruded in one piece, replacing four previously used component parts. “Even though pultrusion is more expensive per pound than the aluminum part or the PVC part or the wood part, by consolidating all four components into one, we were able to reduce the cost.”
Hiel encouraged tutorial attendees to think about products that could be created from pultruded FRP rather than traditional materials. For example, he notes that forklift pallets – ubiquitous around the world – could be made from FRP rather than wood. So could many metal parts that are subject to corrosion and rust. Hiel questions why offshore wind turbines are made from FRP, but the towers they are attached to are metal. These towers could easily be pultruded, he says.
In fact, Hiel recently helped create a 118-foot transmission tower for a military base that is made from pultruded FRP parts. The tower was assembled on the ground, without bolts in 1/8th time it takes to put up a traditional steel tower.
In another application, a hybrid carbon and fiberglass pultruded core is being used to replace the steel core in electrical conductors. These ACCC™ conductors reduce weight by 70 percent, which allows them to carry 28 percent more aluminum and conduct much more electricity, says Hiel. The cores are so durable that when a 2013 tornado in Oklahoma City destroyed an electrical tower and shredded the aluminum material around the core, the pultruded FRP core was left intact. Such durability holds infinite possibilities for infrastructure, Hiel says, noting that the U.S. will need to spend billions of dollars on infrastructure in the coming years.