IBEX 365 News
Switching to Light RTM is Easier than You May Think
Make a seamless transition with Composites One
Over the past 20 years, Composites One has helped marine manufacturers nationwide make a seamless transition to closed molding processes such as Light Resin Transfer Molding (Light RTM), ultimately helping them build products with better cosmetics, while lowering emissions and creating a cleaner work environment.
What’s Light RTM? It’s a closed molding process consisting of an “A” side base mold and a semi-rigid, fiberglass “B” side counter mold. After fiber reinforcements are placed inside the base, the two molds are closed together with flanges creating an air-tight seal. Vacuum is then applied and a measured amount of catalyzed resin is pumped into the sealed mold. Once the resin has cured, the counter mold is removed, and the part is de-molded from the base mold.
“There’s been a lot of interest in Light RTM among marine manufacturers who’ve watched us use the process during LIVE demos at trade shows and workshops,” said James Jones, Lead Technical Support Manager, Composites One. “It’s become very popular in the marine market, primarily because of the cosmetic and manufacturing advantages that it provides,” he added.
According to James, Light RTM results in good cosmetics on both the front and back sides of a part, making it ideal for building deck hatches, console covers, head doors, swim platforms and a variety of other components for sport and recreational boats.
But there’s more to Light RTM than good cosmetics. Compared to traditional open molding, Light RTM offers such manufacturing advantages as:
• Lower styrene emissions, for a cleaner work environment
• Faster, easier cleanup
• No need for acetone or other abrasive cleaners
• No need for respirators or personal protective equipment (PPE)
• Less material waste
• None of the over spraying common in open molding
“Light RTM enables marine manufacturers to increase production without worrying about exceeding their emissions limits,” said James. “And because it results in a cleaner work environment, it helps manufacturers attract and retain talented workers,” he added.
According to James, Light RTM is easy to implement. “The key driver is tooling,” he said. “Manufacturers need a good set of molds – a base mold and counter mold that are designed and constructed specifically for use with Light RTM.”
To get started on the process, James recommends customers contact Composites One. “We have nine Technical Support Managers (TSMs) across North America who can help marine manufacturers find all the products and equipment they need, and guide them through the entire process,” he said. “They also conduct process reviews, help out with troubleshooting, and keep manufacturers informed about the latest innovations, such as low-profile resins and RTM reinforcement fabrics that can enhance flow and improve cosmetics,” he added.
Providing additional support is the Closed Mold Alliance, a group comprised of founding member Composites One, North America’s leading composites distributor; Aerovac, the industry leader in process materials; along with Magnum Venus Products (MVP), and RTM North Technologies.
Interested is seeing Light RTM in action? Marine manufacturers are welcome to attend free workshops featuring LIVE demos of Light RTM being presented this summer by Composites One and the Closed Mold Alliance. To find out more about upcoming workshops, please go to compositesone.com.
For more information about making a successful transition to Light RTM, please go to the Closed Molding Knowledge Center: https://www.compositesworld.com/kc/closed-molding.