Company Produces World's Largest Waterslide Part Using RTM Process
FormaShape, one of North America's leading manufacturers of composite fiberglass, announced today that it has produced the world's largest waterslide part using the Resin Transfer Moulding (RTM) closed moulded process.FormaShape's achievement is an important breakthrough for the waterslide industry, which has until now been reliant upon the less desirable Open Mould process to manufacture these parts.
The record-breaking waterslide part - the moulds used to create it weigh up to 2,500 pounds - has been produced for one of FormaShape's key customers, Whitewater West Industries, a global provider of waterpark attractions.
The benefits of the new RTM closed mould process over the traditional Open Mould are considerable, Henry Czenczek, FormaShape's Manager of Design Engineering explains: "RTM offers unparalleled control of shapes, forms, and dimensions, allowing for precise dimensional tolerance to be calculated, essential for safety. It has enabled us to make the waterslide parts stronger, lighter, and to much closer tolerances. In addition, the new waterslide parts have finished and smooth surfaces on both sides, making them aesthetically far superior to anything that can be created using the Open Mould process."
The RTM process also has environmental advantages, an important factor for a company that prides itself on its reputation for corporate responsibility:
"The RTM process produces much lower emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC), like styrene. FormaShape is already at one-half of any proposed styrene emission standard, and the RTM process will take us down to a very small fraction of that. The process also creates much less physical waste, thereby reducing the amount of material that ends up in the landfill," Czenzcek added.
"Overall, the RTM process is far more advanced. We are able to produce a superior part in less time, in a more cost efficient manner and with less waste. Delivery lead times are shorter - over the next few months, we will be able to manufacture hundreds of parts off this one mould - enabling our customer to sell more product. Even our employees are happier, as the RTM process creates less noise and requires less protective equipment to be worn by the operators. It really is a win-win situation," Czenzcek concluded.
The considerable size of the waterslide parts presented FormaShape with some new challenges. The massive moulds require specially designed material handling equipment for moving around the plant floor, and for turning to allow fo material loading and spraying. While manoeuvrability around the plant floor was accomplished by using tow motors, there was nothing in the plastics industry to provide for lifting and turning the moulds. A new lifting device was needed to eliminate manual turning, to avoid certian ergonomic issues, to be adaptable to many sizes and shapes of moulds, and, above all, to be safe to operate while maximizing production throughput. FormaShape's design Engineering team were not deterred and set aobut designing a new device that would fulfill these criteria. Once the design was finalized, FormaShape teamed up with local supplier, Multi-Power Products Ltd., to build the rotator and control system.