SMC Compounder & Compression Molder Establishes New Non-Woven Business
28. March 2016
R3 Composites’ new subsidiary to supply industry with high-quality and innovative non-wovens technology.
Carver Non-Woven Technologies LLC is the new wholly-owned and very interesting subsidiary of R3 Composites, Inc., Grabill, Ind., a custom compression molder and compounder of sheet-molding compound (SMC). To be headquartered in nearby Fremont, Ind., where significant renovations to an existing plant are nearly complete, Carver Non-Woven Technologies will supply high-quality, multi-material non-woven products to both R3 and the broader North American composites industry. Commercial sale of these products is slated to start this July.
Carver will target thermoset and thermoplastic composite applications in automotive, recreational vehicles, office furniture, and building construction markets. Unlike other non-woven suppliers, Carver has fully automated its entire production line—from initial debaling, fiber opening, blending, and carding, all the way through to finished packaging
Moreover, Carver will offer a broad combination of single-fiber and hybrid (multi-fiber) mats including E-glass fiberglass, bast-type natural fibers (primarily jute), carbon fiber, and several types of polymer fibers (e.g., nylon and polyester) plus highly homogeneous resonated acrylic/latex binder-resin blends. The company also reportedly aims to be first to bring carbon fiber non-wovens to market at lower costs than conventional wrap-and-resonate processes.
Carver plans to offer these cutting-edge non-woven reinforcements for a broad range of thermoset and thermoplastics composites due to its ability to create sheetstock with low-variance weight (density) with superior dimensional stability and mechanical properties.
With a focus on being able to meet the demanding performance requirements of the targeted markets, Mark Glidden, president of R3 Composites and Carver Non-Woven, noted, “From the start, we strategically positioned Carver’s focus on design and technology in order to significantly raise the bar on non-woven product quality…We knew it would be critical to maintain tight tolerances on fiber blending, coarse and fine fiber opening, product weight distribution, and line versatility. These are the key metrics that we kept in mind when custom designing our processes and equipment… All told, we’ve made a very significant investment in the new company, but this assures complete control, consistency, and quality in our finished goods. With everything that Carver makes, product quality is our first and foremost goal.”
Understanding that quality also meant integration with the whole non-wovens supply chain. The Carver team addressed this key aspect of their quality program with hands-on involvement in fiber quality and specifications prior to purchases—especially in the area of natural fibers. The company has carefully partnered with suppliers in Southeast Asia to bring together the first comprehensive supply-chain management program for bast fiber non-wovens, including full quality testing of products prior to shipment to the Freemont plant. Starting at farms and distribution points throughout India and Bangladesh, the University of Calcutta is providing inspection and lot testing. Since jute fibers have a single harvest per year and since shipping to the U.S. Midwest takes 6-8 weeks, supply-chain management is really important to assure higher quality, longer fibers with good and consistent strength values are received.
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