Strongwell’s PULSTAR Technology a Key Component of New Composites Initiative
On January 12, 2015, President Obama announced the $259 million advanced composites manufacturing consortium project known as the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI) to be led by the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. The 122-member IACMI will focus on innovation in the manufacturing of composites used in automobiles, wind turbines and compressed gas storage tanks.
The consortium provided $189 million in funding with a match grant of $70 million from the US Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Traditionally, demand for high performance composites has been for low-volume, high-value industries such as aerospace. A major goal for IACMI is to reduce carbon fiber prices by almost fifty percent, while training a future high tech workforce.
It is expected pultrusion will be one of the primary manufacturing processes used by the IACMI to yield constant cross section parts in the most efficient manner. Pultrusion has a proven history of more than 60 years as a process to produce high volume, high quality composites by combining polymer resins with strong reinforcing fibers (typically glass or carbon) to create a strong, lightweight finished product.
Strongwell’s PULSTAR pultrusion technology, equipment and technical expertise in pultrusion production will yield efficiency in processes, lower overall manufacturing costs and enable broader use of composites in high-volume, cost-sensitive markets such as those in the focus of IACMI.
IACMI’s estimates show that composites materials usage could grow by 200 percent globally by 2020 due to composites having a longer lifespans, while decreasing the overall carbon footprint of consumers and producers alike.
Employers, workers and suppliers will also gain advantages to stay ahead of complex manufacturing curves as a crucial building block in industrial and academic developments within the global market.