Ultra-low density SMC employs glass bubbles

Core Molding Technologies Inc. (Columbus, OH) a custom sheet molding compound (SMC) manufacturer and molder of fiberglass reinforced plastics, has developed an ultra-low density SMC with high surface quality that reportedly offers "advancements over its previous industry-leading low-density SMC."

Core's new Airilite brand of SMC has a nominal density (specific gravity) of 1.18, which is 38% lower than the density of industry-standard SMC formulations. Airilite is also 17% lower in density than Core's Featherlite SMC, which has a nominal density of 1.43, and was introduced in February, 2011, after several years of development work.

"We know our customers are relentless in their desire for improved capability in composites, and especially for low density formulations that perform well," commented Terry O'Donovan, VP marketing and sales for Core Molding Technologies. "Our Featherlite system advanced the industry with the lowest density SMC available without the use of glass microspheres," he continued. "As our customers strive to continuously reduce the weight of their products, we have responded by pushing the envelope again and creating a material that offers significant advantages to them. We now have two industry-leading, low-density SMC formulations to offer our customers as they design new products," he concluded.

The new Airilite formulation offers outstanding toughness and is intended for high-impact applications. Airilite has been formulated for SMC applications demanding high surface quality. Additionally, Core has developed proprietary technology that improves the resin-to-glass bonding strength on a microstructural level by about 50% over Featherlite, overcoming a performance tradeoff that can be associated with reduced-density SMC formulations. 

Airilite SMC is expected to find wide application in the transportation and general industrial markets according to its developer. The material is in advanced qualification for one application, and other opportunities are in development. Airilite was scheduled to go into commercial production and available for shipment by the end of August.

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