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Acrylic thickening for curable resin solutions

Organization:Reinforced Polymers Inc, Florida, US
I.P. Brief:Acrylic thickeners replace traditional alkaline earth thickeners in the making of thermoset Bulk Molding Compounds (BMC), Sheet Molding Compounds (SMC) and Laminates. Acrylic thickened molding doughs exhibit prolonged shelf life and require lower molding pressure. Three US patents issued others are pending.
Summary of I.P.:Today\'s thermoset composites are often hand made. Limitations of the manufacturing process and short shelf life make composites expensive and scarce. Composites account for only 9 of every 10,000 pounds in the materials marketplace. The Dept of Energy doesn\'t regard composites as an \"Industry of the Future\". So our military\'s increasing dependence on low volume composite production poses a national security threat. The people of Reinforced Polymers believe mass production of the material must precede mass production of molded composite parts. Acrylic thickening of curable polyester, vinyl ester and hybrid thermoset resins offers industrialization and greatly extended markets to the composites business. The introduction of acrylic thickeners into composites manufacture portends a logical consolidation of the industry from highly segmented, low volume production to the centralization and industrialization that occurred in oil, steel, automobiles and electronics. Making moldable, thermosets - BMCs, SMCs and LMCs (Multiply Laminate Molding Compounds) - on machines and then the molded products on an assembly line will lower costs, increase availability, and produce consistent, verifiable quality, while reducing pollution. This low risk, high reward leap forward is within our grasp now.
Patent:US Patents 5747553 and 6103779 and 6433037
Keywords:Composite, Molding, Thermoset, Acrylic, Thickener
Primary Industry:Materials
Specific Market:Composites are replacing metals in Defense, Transportation and Construction.
Market Size:In 1995, 3.1764 billion pounds of reinforced plastics were sold in the USA. About 20% of that was thermoset polyester or 635,280,000 pounds. Rate of growth is about 18% yearly.
State of the Art:Thermoset molders often mix their raw materials on site, sometimes in the mold, just before molding a part. Thermoplastic molders use large, expensive presses to hot mold their parts.
Competition:Other traditional materials, metals, wood, ceramics, are evolving to meet the composites challenge for a lighter, stiffer, stronger product. Thermoplastics claim more recycleability than thermosets.
Figures of Merit:Composites include the lightest, stiffest and strongest materials yet devised by humankind. As metals lead us from the stone age, composites will lead us to another new era.
Tech.  Obstacles:Solid acrylic powders must be compounded to rapidly thicken liquid resins to moldable doughs on an assembly machine running at speed. Current Sheet Molding, and, PrePreg machinery must be altered to accomodate the new, acrylic thickener. Solutions are at hand.
Market Obstacles:Commercialization of acrylic thickening will happen when when the benefits of change outweigh the costs of change - in dollars. Milestones will include: 1) The making of an acrylic paste that quickly dissolves in, then thickens the curable, liquid resin solution. 2) Simple, cost effective modifications of existing Sheet Molding and PrePreg making machinery to accomodate acrylic thickeners. 3) Successful manufacture of a moldable, multiply laminate on a machine running at speed. 4) Molding a composite part from that laminate. 5) Achieving physical and chemical properties that exceed those of the material(s) replaced.
Patent Landscape:Some related work is referenced in my patents and publications. Also noteworthy are patents of Mitsubishi-Rayon and Premix Inc.
Publications:Relevant publications include: 1) Three US patents assigned to Reinforced Polymers Inc by Robert Guzauskas; 2) My Technical Paper delivered at the \"Composites 2002 Convention and Trade Show\" titled, \"Novel Acrylic Thickeners for BMC and SMC\"; 3) My NAVAIR Grant Application, Solicitation+DE-PS36-03G093004; 4) The book, SHEET MOLDING COMPOUNDS, by Hamid G. Kia (Hanser Publications); 5) The book, THERMOSETS AND COMPOSITES, by Michel Biron (Elsevier Publications)
Research Team:Our team includes the Author, and Dr. L. James Lee, Professor of Chemical Engineering at Ohio State University, and Dr Jerry Fram, President Finn and Fram, manufacturers of PrePreg and Sheet Molding machinery, and Scott Lewit, President, Structural Composites. Structural Composites manages our Navy\'s Marine Composites Testing Laboratory.


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