What about manufacturers who can’t afford automation? What can they do?
Components in composite products have advanced so rapidly, so sometimes you can do a chemistry change because of the advanced technology that provides the same product characteristics, but the chemistry works different enough so that by itself, it minimizes the pollution problem.
Over the years, people have developed resin-injection systems which inject resin directly into the process as opposed to liquid resin being sprayed. Fiberglass people have developed rolled fiberglass goods that take the place of strands and spraying gel-coat or resins. All of those are becoming used to a greater extent by forward-thinkers. Those processes are cleaner, not only physically in the plant but also air-quality wise. If you choose a different resin system and it’s not hazardous, you can eliminate that. On a coating process, some coatings are 100 percent solid and don’t require any carrier. Chemistry changes can go from wet solvent coating to a dry coating and not only eliminate atomization but also control waste.
How did you conduct your testing?
We had an independent lab conduct our testing. We were concerned about the reflective qualities of the panel, coating adhering, panel strength, impact resistance in both the finish and structure, heat aging, UV degradation and temperature inversions from rapid cool down to heat-up. The mechanical qualities of the product have to be consistent or it’ll aesthetically fail in the field.
What will be the challenges in starting up the Vixen branch?
The scale of the product is by far the major challenge. When you make a scale of that size, the consistency of fine tuning the equipment and chemistry to make sure your carrying physical and aesthetic properties across a great range of sizes is the biggest challenge. But we feel confident entering the marketplace. We’ve done tremendous testing over the last two years, so we’re comfortable with the mechanical and long-term properties of the product.