Exel Composites introduces pull-winding to North and Central America

Following huge private and public infrastructural funding across North and Central America, global composites manufacturer Exel Composites has invested in expanding the sales team based at its factory in Erlanger, Northern Kentucky. The team serves customers in the North and Central American markets as well as opening up customers to Exel’s global network. Now the team is looking to increase the awareness and benefits of pull-winding technology.

Exel Composites introduces pull-winding to North and Central America

4 minutes, 10 secondes

This introduction comes at a time when governments across the Americas are looking to invest multibillion, even trillion, dollar infrastructure packages to rebuild and futureproof power grids, transportation systems, and telecommunications networks. For example, Biden’s $1 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure bill will provide $89.9 billion to expand public transport, helping to replace obsolete vehicles with clean, zero-emission vehicles.

With huge growth expected in these segments, the team is well positioned to help new customers take advantage of composites to solve challenges, drawing on its experience in business development and the technical expertise honed from many years working with plastics, injection molding, and pultruded composite companies.

What is pull-winding?

Pull-winding combines the two techniques of pultrusion and continuous filament winding resulting in a profile with excellent hoop strength, logitudinal strength and modulus, with smooth surface finish. In addition to the unidirectional alignment of fibers, the pull-winding process uses helical winding of reinforcements resulting in both the ability to guide unidirectional fibers as well as helical winds (from a few degrees up to 90 degrees). This mix of fiber directions allows for composite advantages such as thinner walls or to meet specific strength or stiffness requirements.

What is pultrusion, pull-winding, and continuous lamination? How do they work?

The pull-winding manufacturing process is a continuous process resulting in a steady output of a composite profile which is cut to length at the end of the process. It is called pull-winding because the profile being produced is first “wound” helically with reinforcing fibers (in addition to unidirectional fibers) and then is pulled through the process.

The pull-winding process has four main process steps; reinforcement alignment and resin impregnation, shaping and heating in a die; the pulling process, and finally the flying shear cutting.

In the first step, reinforcing fibers, mats, and fabrics are precisely guided towards the die and impregnated with the prescribed resin. Next the fibers are pulled into a carefully controlled heated die in the shape of the desired profile. The resin is thermally set in this process, creating the desired composite profile.

This profile is then used to pull the reinforcements continuously through the die. Pulling mechanisms grab (friction hold using adjustable clamps or a caterpillar puller system) the newly formed composite profile and pull it in a continuously repeating process.

Finally the finished composite profile is cut to length in line with the continuous movement of the process.

Drawing on experience

Over several decades navigating the European markets, Exel has successfully positioned itself as an expert in manufacturing lightweight, robust and long-lasting carbon fiber and fiberglass composites for transportation, power grid infrastructure, telecommunications, buildings and construction. The company’s pultrusion and pull-winging processes are highly automated compared to manual manufacturing techniques, which ensures continuous, high-volume production of composite profiles at a consistent quality.

“The American market was one of the first to accept the benefits of pultrusion. Thanks to the acquisition of the well-established North American pultruder Diversified Structural Composites (DSC) in 2018, the potential of the benefits of pull-winding to fill a gap in the market also became apparent”, explained Francesco Ierullo, Head of Sales for the Americas markets at Exel Composites. He continued, “Like pultrusion, pull-winding pulls saturated fibers through a heated die. The main difference is that the fibers can be organized in a crosswise or longitudinal alignment, depending on the application’s requirements. This cross-directional control of mechanical properties makes pull-winding the ideal manufacturing process for composite hollow profiles with thin walls. For building materials, this is important because it means the material’s weight is kept low, less resources are wasted during manufacturing, and production costs remain manageable”.

Being a world leader in pull-winding technology, Exel Composites is well placed to bring these solutions to the American markets where there are almost no companies using this production process. The company aims to do this with the help of Ierullo, Head of Sales, and two Area Sales Managers.

About the team

Lerullo has worked with Exel Composites in Europe since 2015, recently relocating to Erlanger from Italy to help strengthen the company’s visibility. He is joined by two Area Sales Managers for North America, John Mertic and Marc Tagher, and a North American Sales Representative, Roger Gastineau.

The US team.

Mertic brings his experience managing the sales for multimillion dollar accounts to help increase Exel’s market share across the continents in a targeted, strategic manner. His expertise in telecommunications, electrical composites, and conductor cores will allow Exel to grow in line with the pending infrastructural investments across the Americas. Tagher’s technical skills gathered from 25 years in the field of engineering makes him an ideal consultant and collaborator for a growing customer base. He specializes in airports, defense, aerospace and marine transportation, and construction. Gastineau, the American agent for transportation, has been an integral team member at Exel for many years.

Exel combines a large but local ‘made in USA’ manufacturing footprint with the expertise of a global company to provide efficient sales support, technical consultancy, and customer service from its Erlanger factory. The company has seven production factories throughout the globe, providing manufacturing support and development of specific products in targeted applications. The team’s collaborative, forward-thinking approach to manufacturing will ensure an efficient service, while helping customers overcome their challenges with composite solutions.

More information www.exelcomposites.com