USQ collaboration product used in multi-million dollar projects around the world
A collaboration between the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) and Wagners Composite Fibre Technologies (CFT) has come up with the next big thing in manufacturing, something that is shaking up industries, cutting costs, and slashing production times.
“Pultrusion”, as the process is called it, creates continuous lengths of composite material by “pulling” fibre-reinforced profiles through a cross-section of die, resin and heating and cooling zones. The term is a portmanteau word, combining “pull” and “extrusion”. As opposed to extrusion, which pushes the material, pultrusion works by pulling the material.
Working alongside Wagners CFT, a Toowoomba-based manufacturer that utilises the pultrusion technique, and Allnex, the collaborative project is looking into new applications for the manufacturing process.
“It has been the manufacturing method of choice due to its ability to produce large sections in volume which are economical and consistent in quality,” said USQ Polymer Composites researcher Dr Xuesen Zeng.
“We’re increasing the productivity of the process, incorporating additives such as fire retardants, integrating braiding process with pultrusion, optimising injectable tools, and more.”
The project has already received AU$10 million in funding and has recently been awarded an additional AU$3 million from Australian Government’s Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) programme.
The money is already proving to be a good investment with trio’s new product being snapped up by multi-million dollar projects the world over.
Wagners CFT is currently using pultruded material in the UK, USA, and New Zealand. It is also in the process of installing a boardwalk for the United Arab Emirates’ Jubail Island Development which will see 6,000 villas constructed on the island.
The company is teaming up with USQ, using its Institute for Advanced Engineering and Space Sciences as a research arm to progress the procedure and streamline manufacturing process by developing a production-ready Pultrex pultrusion line.
Executive Director of the institute Professor Peter Schubel said this has lead to the development of new products in new markets with improved mechanical and fire performance.
“The integration of experimental and modelling capabilities will help increase productivity through higher line speed, and create structures that can compete on cost within Australia and in the global market,” Professor Schubel said.
USQ is recognised worldwide for its track record in implementing research and development projects in automated fibre composites for civil infrastructure. USQ has industry relevant manufacturing facilities, material characterisation and structural testing facilities for research and commercial testing.