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HOW IT'S MADE - Large-scale water storage domes developed with a highly repeatable manufacturing process

News International-French

31 Jul 2020

MVP collaborated with partners to manufacture the largest LRTM part by volume in Colombia. The project was to develop a better solution for drinking water storage tanks for Bogota’s Water Utility Company. The previous storage system was prone to breakage creating an increased risk of contamination of potable water in the largest Colombian metropolis.

Innovative Engineering Solutions (SOLING) was founded in 2014 by Javier Moreno, an executive for multiple composites manufacturing firms in the Colombia and the Andean region. Despite being a young company in the market, Mr. Moreno brings knowledge of more than 30 years in the composites industry and a proven reputation for providing solutions with engineering as a fundamental pillar.

Since its inception, Soling has relied on Magnum Venus Products (MVP) equipment to provide solutions for its customers. It quickly recognized the need to differentiate itself from its competitors through novel processing technologies that would enable entry into new markets.

The challenge: develop a highly repeatable manufacturing process for large-scale domes
In 2018, Bogota’s Water Utility Company presented Soling with the opportunity to develop a 143m x 109m or 15,587m2 (149ft x 358ft or 53,342 sq ft) drinking water storage tank in the south of the city. Their current operation had frequent breaks and costly repairs of its aqueduct covers causing countless losses and creating increased risk of contaminating potable water in the largest Colombian metropolis. As a solution, Soling proposed a series of 7.6m x 2.4m (25ft x 8ft) semicircular domes, with a surface area of approximately 28.5m2 (207 sq ft) per piece. Once the manufacturing design was defined, it was apparent that 840 domes would need to be manufactured to cover the total area for the project.

To make this design a reality, Soling called upon Magnum Venus Products (MVP) and its Colombian distributor, Minepro, to provide technical support integral to the project’s success. By partnering with MVP, the team devised an effective process to reach a high production throughput with very low post-processing requirements. To meet the customer’s needs of a highly repeatable process producing good surface finish with isophthalic gelcoat on both sides, it was determined the most suitable process was a vacuum-assisted closed molding method, or Light RTM.

Mold developed by Soling and MVP used in the manufacture of new storage domes

Leveraging MVP closed molding expertise and equipment for high volume production

MVPs Patriot Innovator High Volume RTM System used to manufacture domes
The Bogota Water Utility project required the manufacturing of up to eight 320 Kg pieces per day, a net increase in consumption of more than 2-tons of resin per day. MVP recommended its Patriot Innovator High Volume RTM System, which is capable of injecting material at this high rate with a single unit. The injection was performed with the full MVP LRTM process, which consisted of high-volume Turbo Autosprue valves, universal couplings, seals and mold accessories. The project also utilized MVP’s multi-color Gelcoat System.

The full production cycle for one piece, from the preparation of the mold to the extraction of each dome, took 4-hours with an injection time of only 40-minutes. In an 8-hour work shift, 2 pieces can be manufactured from the application of gelcoat to the trimmed and finished piece, ready for shipment. The process utilized a low viscosity resin specially formulated by Andercol, a Colombian composites chemical manufacturer.

Mold closure

These new composite dome covers manufactured by Soling are expected to last much longer than those previously built with traditional materials which were prone to breakage and carried huge maintenance costs for Bogota’s Water Utility Company. These developments have raised the bar on size, efficiency, and production volume for the composites industry in Colombia.

Injected part

Producing the largest LRTM part by volume manufactured in Colombia
To date, the Bogotá aqueduct domes manufactured by Soling are the largest parts by volume manufactured through a LRTM process in Colombia. The full implementation of the project took only six months thanks to a collaborative effort between MVP, Minepr, Andercol, and Soling. MVP’s team, including Latin America sales manager Andrés F. Collazos, and technical specialist Herik Navarro, provided critical equipment expertise and technical support. MVP’s distributor in Colombia, Minepro, coordinated many of the engineering, sales, and technical aspects during the process implementation, including equipment and fine-tuning of the LRTM process. On the materials side, Andrés Franco and the Service & Technical Development team in R&D at Andercol, also played a key role in the formulation of the optimal low-viscosity resin, as well as early support with key design elements of the process. Additionally, the Soling engineering team led by Rodrigo Vergara, was in charge of integrating all information and data, and setting up the process.

Field installation of new domes

Javier Moreno, Soling Engineer, said:

“Partners like MVP enable us to bring these projects to life and deliver effective solutions. Their customer service and technical expertise is second to none. Through this collaboration, we were able to redefine what is possible for the local industry.”

Soling is planning to continue producing covers for the second stage of the project and exploring more MVP closed molding solutions for even higher manufacturing volumes of various large-scale composite parts.

Aerial view of the completed phase 1 project to develop water storage tanks for Bogota Water Utility