Pultrusion creates consistency, productivity

The process of pultrusion has been used by at the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) to create composite materials for the oil and gas and transport industries in Australia and overseas.

Pultrusion involves creating continuous lengths of composite material by pulling fibre-reinforced profiles through a cross-section of die, resin, and heating and cooling zones.

Working alongside Wagners Composite Fibre Technologies (CFT), a Toowoomba-based manufacturer that utilises the pultrusion technique, the collaborative project, funded by the Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) program, is looking into new applications for the manufacturing process. The $10 million collaboration will receive $3m from the federal government’s CRC program.

“We’re increasing the productivity of the process, incorporating additives such as fire retardants, integrating braiding process with pultrusion, optimising injectable tools, and more,” said USQ Polymer Composites researcher Dr Xuesen Zeng.

In this research and industry collaboration, USQ has provided the research expertise to support Wagners’s production capabilities. This has allowed the company to create new products for a greater number of markets.

“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,” said USQ Institute for Advanced Engineering and Space Sciences executive director, Professor Peter Schubel.

The current overseas applications for the technology is in the United Arab Emirates, where in the city of Abu Dhabi, Wagners is using pultrusion methods to construct a boardwalk that will connect new residential developments on Al Jubail Island to the rest of the city.

The attraction of the pultrusion method for this and other similar projects is the ability to produce large sections in volume which are consistent in quality, without being overly costly, noted Zeng.