An added benefit has been that the composite material lends itself to reducing wear on workers. The non-skid grating features a wide bearing bar that end users report is easier to kneel on than traditional serrated steel grating.
Jacoby says CIP’s products are sought after for high-wear offshore applications. Examples include mooring lines that anchor tankers to the seafloor and the anchor pin bearings that secure these lines in place. These components are highly loaded, Jacoby points out, making strength a leading material requirement.
Typical mooring line materials, as well as many of the bronze bearings used to connect these lines, require regular grease or lubrication to reduce the effects of wear over time. Bronze bearings in particular need a boundary layer of lubrication to prevent damage from ongoing metal-to-metal contact. On top of this, the lubrication systems require regular cleaning to remain functional.
This isn’t the case for composites infused with lubricants. “We do a lot of mooring solutions because they’re able to put our material in and not really have to apply a grease or maintenance cycle for good service and longevity,” says Jacoby.
CIP Marine™ products incorporate the solid lubricant polytetrafluoroethylene (commonly known by the brand name Teflon) and molybdenum disulfide within a polyester resin, which is then reinforced with polyester textile to create a dimensionally stable material with the strength to replace bronze. The composite ultimately has a lower coefficient of friction than bronze in static and dynamic situations, able to achieve 50 percent lower coefficients of friction than bronze, reports CIP. By incorporating lubrication within the material itself, CIP is able to extend the operating life of these offshore components while reducing the maintenance costs.
The resin selection also has an impact on wear, Jacoby notes. “If the application is highly loaded and there’s some reasonable speed to it, [the component] is going to have some frictional demands,” he points out. “Temperature resistance in a resin system is an important factor, because that will dictate the wear rate. The better the resin is able to handle the temperature scenario, the better it’s going to be able to resist wear.”
In this case, industry regulations may also play into the switch to composites. CIP has found that the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2013 requirement that all marine vessel oil-to-sea interfaces use environmentally acceptable lubricants has led to logistical challenges in finding compatible products for existing solutions. When the need for lubricant is eliminated, the problem is largely solved.