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Composite RV panels made by new process.

Hundreds of pounds of weight savings can be achieved with a new way of making composite exterior panels for recreational vehicles. The new CTEC panels from Owens Coming Fabwel, Elkhart, Ind., weigh 20% less than standard panels of plywood covered with fiberglass composite. The standard panels absorb water, which further adds to their weight. Cutting weight allows RV makers to install more amenities without making the overall vehicle heavier, notes Chuck Jerasa, general manager of OC Fabwel.

CTEC panels of polyester and fiberglass are made by a proprietary vacuum infusion process. The basic technology is not brand-new but had never been applied to parts this large at such fast fill rates, says Jerasa. He adds that the CTEC process obtains a higher than usual glass content, adding strength so that the panels can be thinner and lighter. What's more, CTEC panels (shown on an RV from Monaco Coach Corp, Coburg, Ore.) reportedly achieve a smoother, high-gloss automotive finish free of the "board lines" that can be visible in standard panels. He says the CTEC panel technology could be used in other applications such as construction and mass transportation. Tel: (574) 522-8473
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Title Annotation:Composites
Publication:Plastics Technology
Date:Apr 1, 2005
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