January 31, 2002 – Avtec Industries, Inc. of Hudson, Massachusetts is introducing a new (patent pending) surfacing mat impregnated with material that enhances fire resistance, with product launch in the February/March time frame.

As an example, pultrudable, .020-inch (20 mil) thick mat is impregnated with Avtec’s TSWB™ intumescent filler on one side, so that the glass fiber side of the mat product may be placed against the Pultrusion die to optimize processing.

By having the intumescent impregnant on the side placed away from the die during processing, fire-resistance is focused at the surface of the part, reducing the need for using fire-retardant resins or aluminum trihydrate filler throughout the part.

Thus, the materials structural performance properties of the laminate core are not diluted by including filler throughout the part thickness. This allows the parts maker the option of tailoring fire performance better or differently than in the past. Target customer pultrusion trials currently are underway.

The mat also may be used in other processes, such as hand layup, filament winding psot-wrapping, in preforms for VARTM, and press molding. Primary resins compatible with the mat are vinyl ester and isopolyester, though epoxy works as well.

The binder and processing method for the fire-resistant mat were custom tailored by Foster-Miller. They came up with a material optimized for use with powder impregnant in the glass fiber mat to enhance product integrity during part fabrication processing.

Trials to date have been conducted on 20-mil thick glass fiber mat, but later most likely will include mat substrates of 7, 10, 15, 20, 30, and 40-mil thicknesses. Available widths (those most likely) fall in the 15-inch to 80-inch width range. The combination product is tailored to be “fabricator friendly” and easy to use.

A larger pilot run will be made in late January to produce several hundred yards of material for field sampling to interested pultruders and other fabricators.

The enhanced mat product’s appearance is a slight off-white in color, so it should have minimal effect on part color. Also, the product is environmentally friendly, as the fiber and impregnant are said to be non-hazardous materials.