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What is Pultrusion?

What is pultrusion?

Pultrusion is an automated manufacturing process for the production of constant cross-sectionally shaped profiles of fiber reinforced composites. The profiles produced with this process can compete with traditional metal profiles such as steel and aluminium for strength and weight. The polymer reinforced matrix can be formulated to meet the most demanding chemical, flame retardant, electrical and environmental conditions.

The reinforcements of the pultruded matrix are usually glass fiber rovings or woven fabrics. Sometimes non woven mats are used as cross sectional reinforcements or as outside protective layers. Pultrusion Technology knows a number of "branched off" Technologies, such as: Pull-winding and Pull-forming. Pullwinding makes it possible to not only provide longitudinal (axial) reinforcements, but also put in one or more cross layers (tangential). Pullforming is a lesser used variety, whereby the material after the forming die, in its uncured phase, is formed in its final form by pressing of squeezing and then is cured.


High performance materials or every day's product?

Pultrusion brings high performance composites down to commercial products such as light-weight corrosion free structures, electrical non-conductive systems, offshore platforms, road and railway trucks, and many other innovative new products.Pultrusion products are applied in a wide range of market areas. However, there are certain areas were pultrusions today are recognized as commodity products and have become the industry standard. Properties, such as light weight, corrosion resistance, electrically and thermally non-conductive, determines the success in these applications.

Major markets for applications are:

Electrical 32 %

Building/construction 17 %

Transport 10 %

Industrial 17 %

Recreation 7 %

Other 17 %
(Source: CDC Report, Pultrusion and Pultruded Composites, June 1992.)

The Future
It is expected that pultrusion will continue its steady growth as shown in recent years. Further technological developments in equipment, raw materials and applications will enhance this. The energy content of pultrusions, in relation to conventional structural materials, will help a more competitive situation if oil prices continue to rise. As it is, the amount of energy to produce GRP composite materials for structural applications in relation to these conventional structurals is lower and consequently working to its economic advantage in the end.
The key technological areas where developments have been allocated by one of the leading glass manufacturers are:
Resin formulation;
Reinforcement forming;
Temperature management.
Other developments, such as novel mold designs, thermoplastics and pull-molding processes offer new challenges to pultruders. Profitable results are yet to come, but first indications are encouraging for the future.

Pultrusion is high-tech technology with its roots in the aerospace industry. This has scared many conventional engineers away from every day applications. Today however, pultrusion has come down to earth and is available as construction material.

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