For the better part of the last century, open molding was considered the best, and only, method for effective FRP/GRP production. However, as more governments around the world began to investigate and regulate styrene emissions, and with the demand for more precise parts, the composites industry needed to develop a cleaner, more precise method of production. Light Resin Transfer Molding (LRTM) was the solution to their problems.
Since beginning their comprehensive LRTM training in 2007, MVP has trained and helped several customers make the move to LRTM.
Iplaresa was founded in 1972 as one of the first composites manufacturers in Spain. They started with manufacturing small houses used for construction, urban furniture and parts for buses. Recently, they moved into manufacturing parts for recreational Karts and parts used in the air conditioning system on buses.
As with the majority of composites products manufacturers, Iplaresa had been using open molding to make their products and were able to make an average of 15 units per month for the recreational Karts. As demand for the product increased Iplaresa Managing Director Juan Carlos Ayudarte felt the need to explore new production methods that would increase output, improve quality, and allow him to avoid the challenges of working in cold weather.
MVP conducted an intensive three day workshop at the Iplaresa facility along with technicians from MVP-España. The course included extensive classroom lectures on the technology and techniques behind the process, the real costs and benefits of using LRTM, hands-on training from tooling the mold and counter mold, and the injection of a finished part.
According to Ayudarte, this was the first time a LRTM training course had included such a balance of the practical with the theoretical, and at the end of the three days, his engineers were confident they would be able to translate this training into practical production.
Within a week of completing the course, Iplaresa’s engineers had designed, built and put into production the mold necessary to make the Kart parts using LRTM. Within a month, its production went from 15 units to an average of 60 units. When asked if he has seen a difference in the quality of the parts produced, Ayudarte said, “Yes, of course. Now we have complete control over the final part, and the parts are always what you expect.”
After realizing the success of the conversion to LRTM, Isplaresa’s engineers designed and built three additional molds for bus air conditioner parts, and they are now manufacturing them exclusively through LRTM. Iplaresa is using MVP’s Patriot Innovator RTM System in its LRTM parts production. The machine features adjustable, “on the fly” catalyst ratios from 0.5% to 3%, as well as the latest, highly accurate meter/mix Patriot technology.
By 2005 more and more manufacturers around the world began to investigate making the change to LRTM in its production. All they needed to effectively make the change was the proper training and the correct equipment.
Within a month after making the switch to LRTM, Iplaresa’s production went from 15 units to an average of 60 units.
“In my opinion, it [making the mold yourself] is the most important part, especially when you want to involve your workers in a new process, “says Ayudarte. “We are using a lot of the instructions we have learned from the MVP trainings. For our company, taking the training course has had innumerable value. The hands-on training was what made us take the course, and I can say that it is the main reason why we are now working with RTM. I wouldn’t dare take this leap on our own before working with MVP.”