Inside look: Closed molding course couples talks with concept demos

Billed as a hands-on seminar, the recent Advances in Closed Molding Tool Design and Production Materials event had the feel of a full-blown tech conference. Held May 2-3, 2012, in Cape Coral, Fla., the seminar highlighted the benefits of closed molding and provided attendees with an up-close look at materials and processes used in a number of closed molding methods. The course was sponsored by the Closed Mold Alliance, a collaboration of distributor Composites One (Arlington Hts., IIl.), resins manufacturer CCP Composites (Kansas City, Mo.), infusion equipment supplier Magnum Venus Plastech (MVP, Clearwater, Fla.) and two Canada-based companies, the FormaShape div. of Whitewater Composites (Kelowna, British Columbia) and RTM North Ltd. (Vanastra, Ontario). The event was hosted by JRL Ventures Inc./Marine Concepts at the companies’ Cape Coral facility.

The course presentations were prefaced by a tour of the host companies’ 50,000-ft2 (4,645m2) facility. JRL Ventures/Marine Concepts specialize in the design and build of plugs and tools used to mold fiberglass parts for a variety of industries.

The event featured a number of workshops, but a key feature was an accompanying series of technology and molding demonstrations. For example, Doug Smith, technical specialist with RTM North, reported to attendees that more molders are showing interest in using light RTM. Unlike standard RTM, which uses two rigid tools to make a part, light RTM features a rigid A-side tool and a semirigid or flexible B-side tool. Smith contended that one of the main benefits of both light RTM and standard RTM, compared to open-mold linear laminating, is significantly less postmold repair and finishing, especially on complex parts. Further, RTM and other closed molding processes in general are capable of producing parts with glass loadings as high as 45 to 60 percent, compared to glass loadings of 35 to 37 percent that are typical of parts produced by open molding.

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