ORLANDO, Fla. - Since bringing the Long Fiber Technology (LFT) process to North America 14 years ago, Romeo RIM has continuously looked for opportunities to advance the technology and meet the evolving needs of the marketplace. Now, they've done it yet again.
Using LFT and polyurethane products supplied by longtime collaborator Bayer MaterialScience LLC, Romeo RIM has produced a prototype agricultural combine side panel measuring 111"x73"x5" deep. According to Romeo RIM, the component creates a shielding system with a value proposition focused around cost and weight savings when compared to alternative materials, such as sheet molding compound (SMC).
The prototype combine panel will be on display at Bayer's booth (3145) at CAMX, taking place Oct.14-16 in Orlando.
"What makes this part so attractive is the value proposition we're able to offer," said Matt Getty, director of engineering, Romeo RIM.
Getty explains that a part made using polyurethane and the LFT process can be up to 40-50 percent lighter than SMC parts while still having similar mechanical properties. He goes on to state that another benefit of utilizing the LFT process is the ability to produce a high-gloss surface right out of the mold, which eliminates the need for secondary painting operations, saving valuable time and reducing labor costs.
The combine prototype panel is produced utilizing a 400-ton, 12'x12' double shuttle press, which Romeo RIM believes to be the largest LFT press in the world. For structural support, the combine panel features molded-in ribs two to three times the nominal wall thickness with little to no read through on the A surface, according to Romeo RIM.
In addition to supplying polyurethane products, Bayer contributions included on-site technical support of the product development, led by Romeo RIM, to make such a large part. Support to achieve a high-gloss finish was provided through Bayer laboratories in Pittsburgh, while design assistance to meet the structural integrity and mounting requirements was provided by Bayer's engineering group.
"Bayer was with us every step of the way," Getty said.
"We've been collaborating with Romeo RIM on an ongoing basis as they continue to take LFT to the next level," said Paul Platte, market manager - Polyurethane Composites, Bayer MaterialScience LLC. "This latest accomplishment is a game changer for OEMs looking to produce very large, high-quality, structural parts more quickly and inexpensively."
LFT: An efficient, economical, automated process
During the LFT process, long glass fibers are chopped and injected into an open mold along with polyurethane resin in a one-step process. A fiberglass chopper is attached to the polyurethane dispensing mixhead, which is attached to a robot. The robot is programmed to move over the open mold cavity while simultaneously dispensing both the long glass fibers and the polyurethane resin in an open-pour method. At the end of the pour, the mold is closed and the part is formed.
Use of a sprayable in-mold coating, also provided by Bayer, results in an agricultural Class-A surface right out of the mold. In addition to the agricultural market, large, Class-A surface LFT parts are also well suited to building and construction, mass transit and heavy trucks, among others.
About Bayer MaterialScience LLC:
Bayer MaterialScience LLC is one of the leading producers of high-performance plastics in North America and is part of the global Bayer MaterialScience business with approximately 14,300 employees at 30 production sites around the world and 2013 sales of 11.2 billion euros. Bayer MaterialScience, a Bayer Group company, manufactures high-tech polymer materials and develops innovative solutions for products used in many areas of daily life. The main segments served are the automotive, electrical and electronics, construction, medical, and sports and leisure industries. Sustainability is central to Bayer MaterialScience LLC's business and is based around the key areas of innovation, product stewardship, social responsibility and respect for the environment.
About Romeo RIM:
Romeo RIM is one of the leading processors of reaction injection molding (RIM) technology in North America. Since it was founded in 1982, the company has continuously expended its RIM technology capabilities and commitment to the commercialization of innovative composite technologies as demonstrated by its early adoption of in-mold coatings, dicyclopentadiene (DCPD) and LFT. Main markets served include the mass transit, agricultural, construction, heavy truck, automotive and leisure industries. Romeo RIM is dedicated to a continued emphasis on the development of innovative product offerings and processes that provide technically advanced, engineered solutions that strengthen, protect and enhance the appearance and performance of its customers' products.
For more information about Bayer MaterialScience LLC polyurethane materials and technologies, call 412-777-7454 or visit www.bmsnafta.com.
For more information about Romeo RIM, call 586-336-5877, email Matt.Getty@romeorim.com, or visit www.romeorim.com.
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Bayer MaterialScience LLC
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