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A good deal of collaboration and teamwork is needed when companies come together to produce a product or composite solution. Creating a new process or production method, however, is even more complicated and requires even more collaboration. One example is Black Bull AS’ (BBA) award-winning CR processing line.
(Published on October-November 2006 – JEC Magazine #28)
The BBA Company has developed a processing line that can make any reinforcement geometry based on fibre and thermoset resins. According to the company, this process can significantly reduce production costs while increasing production rates, and therefore has a large market potential.
The collaboration and history
Development for the process started in 2001, and has involved five different companies. BBA hired Loe Betongelementer, a potential client, to engineer and process prototypes and to supply composite reinforcedconcrete items for demonstration and testing. SelcoTek also processed prototypes of composite reinforcements as alternatives to steel. Tele Bryggen tested the materials and told BBA how to solve corrosion problems, and resin supplier Reichhold tested and engineered materials, as well. Each company that worked with BBA was based in Norway or had offices in that country.
BBA manager Henrik Bull recalled that the idea for the project actually started when he was six years old. He said he took a piece of wood and put some nails in it to make a pattern. He then was able to make interesting shapes by winding a thin string between the nails, and a rigid picture by putting some glue on all the strings in the intersecting areas and then removing the nails.
BBA’s innovation is called CR, for composite reinforcement, and is a process that fabricates a noncorrosive, fibre-based reinforcement for concrete. Once on the processing line, the reinforcement is treated with sand just prior to curing. This treatment ensures that the bonding properties, when embedded in concrete, are better than any concrete quality.
More specifically, the process consists of two online steps, where the first step, an impregnation and surface treatment device, is combined with a rotating or mesh device. The rotating arrangement is designed for highspeed fabrication of different hoop shapes or other inflectional patterns. The mesh arrangement is designed for high-speed wire mesh fabric. It should be noted that the pultrusion process cannot fabricate wire fabrics or any inflectional patterns, but only straight lengths.
As Mr Bull pointed out, it is known that many concrete structures are located in corrosive environments such as harbours, deserts, tunnels and roads. He added: “The market potential for non-corrosive reinforcement is unquestioned. The main question is how to encourage commercial businesses to use it without running into costly and irrelevant technicalities. By selecting concrete products with corrosion problems, we have successfully begun with floating concrete pontoons. Our next target is currently in progress: harbours.”
BBA estimates that the process can reduce costs by as much as 70 to 90%. At the same time, the production speed is 50 times faster. CFRP reinforcement products for concrete have been almost exclusively made by pultrusion, which is not very efficient for high production volumes.
Notably, the product also offers total freedom with respect to geometric dimensions and the online surface treatment, because CR can operate with any reinforcement geometry based on a fibre and thermoset resin. With these advantages in mind, BBA sees a large potential market for this solution. So far, the product has been used most frequently with the construction of concrete floating pontoons, but the company is looking to expand in other sectors.
SelcoTek AS was established in 1999 following the purchase of the production rights of Ticon Plastindustrier AS.
The Lier, Norway-based company is dedicated to the further development of sandwich panels and industrial/offshore-related products that the previous company had built their international reputation upon.
Mr Bull concluded: “As indicated, the market potential is huge. To facilitate market access, our strategy is to collaborate with many other companies, that is, companies that offer synergy and not intercompetition.”