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RIM Process Rolls Out Wheel for Space Exploration

The wheel is molded from a DCDP-based thermoset resin that boasts light weight, high strength, and high heat tolerance.

Stephen Moore

August 26, 2020

1 Min Read
Image: Exothermic Molding

A manufacturer of gigantic tires and wheels for specialty vehicles like those used in military and space exploration applications has selected Exothermic Molding of Kenilworth, NJ to manufacture parts for one of its latest wheels. Exothermic’s President Paul Steck related that his company is handling the project because of its pioneering work with a highly durable material known as Proxima.

Known in the plastics manufacturing world as a form of dicyclopentadiene (DCDP) resin, Proxima has demonstrated superior properties of light weight, extreme strength and high heat tolerance. The chemical formulation of the product won its inventor a Nobel Prize.

DCDP, a component of thermosetting polyester resins, is resistant to very low/high temperatures and to corrosive chemicals. It also boasts good dimensional stability and impact resistance. DCPD polyester resins shrink less than typical orthophthalic-based polyester resins.

For these reasons, DCDP is recommended for the manufacturing of very large parts without any need of fiber reinforcement. DCDP is primarily used for large parts in the transport sector (trucks, farming and earth moving machinery, buses) and the chemical industry.

Exothermic, founded in 1971, was the first U.S. company to use the RIM, or reaction injection molding process, where two different reactants are injected via impingement mixing and cured using a heat mold. In addition, Exothermic is among the early adopters of Proxima and has invested in custom built, specialty machinery to process the material.

“The tire and wheel manufacturer that subcontracted the project to Exothermic molding has performed a series of ‘torture tests’ on the prototypes supplied by Exothermic and found that the supplied parts held up well,” according to Exothemic’s Paul Steck. The wheel is non-metallic and has passed rigorous standards of strength, heat and pressure tolerances.

About the Author(s)

Stephen Moore

Stephen has been with PlasticsToday and its preceding publications Modern Plastics and Injection Molding since 1992, throughout this time based in the Asia Pacific region, including stints in Japan, Australia, and his current location Singapore. His current beat focuses on automotive. Stephen is an avid folding bicycle rider, often taking his bike on overseas business trips, and is a proud dachshund owner.

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