As part of its “Transformative Technology” program, which strives to transform Canada’s forest operations industry, innovation and research center FPInnovations wanted to conserve fuel and reduce the weight of traditional timber trailers.
An impressive group of companies, including Bayer MaterialScience LLC, Bayer Inc., FPInnovations, Mat-Comp, Pultrall Inc. and Deloupe Inc., worked together to bring FPInnovations’ idea of a lightweight forestry trailer to life.
FPInnovations initially identified the potential to reduce the weight of traditional timber trailers by replacing steel stakes and bunks with a composite material. The organization contacted Mat-Comp’s Serge Pagé, an expert in composite structural analysis, to assist with development and design of the product. “Originally, a filament winding process with glass fiber and epoxy resin was chosen, but the product couldn’t be produced within the target cost using that process,” according to Pagé. “The focus then shifted to pultrusion, since its continuous process makes it a more cost-efficient option,” Pagé continued. That decision brought Bayer MaterialScience LLC and its Baydur® PUL 2500 polyurethane pultrusion resin onboard.
Past performance of the material and Bayer MaterialScience LLC’s strong reputation made Baydur PUL 2500 resin the go-to choice. “Baydur PUL 2500 resin is a two-component, liquid polyurethane system for use in composite manufacturing and was specifically designed for pultrusion applications,” says Craig Snyder, market channel representative, Bayer MaterialScience LLC. He continues, “This resin provides excellent composite properties, such as superior elongation to failure, shear strength and impact resistance, making it an ideal material choice for the timber trailer.”
Use of pultruded polyurethane composites makes it possible to dramatically slash vehicle weight. Frederic Boutin, researcher, FPInnovations, conveyed the benefits of weight reduction. “By reducing the weight of the timber trailer, more material can be carried. A lighter timber trailer also requires less fuel to run, reducing operations costs,” said Boutin. The new design saves approximately one half ton of weight on the trailer.
To pultrude the trailer components, the group turned to Pultrall, who has been involved with Bayer MaterialScience LLC for many years and is a customer of Bayer Inc. In addition to supplying the polyurethane resin, Bayer MaterialScience also provided material assistance to Pultrall.
During the process, two pultruded profiles were created: one for the stake (the part that holds the timber inside the trailer) and one for the bunk (the transversal part of the trailer’s main frame that joins the stakes). The stakes are 4” x 4.5”, while the bunks are 4” x 8”. They are assembled together with steel adaptors to form a set (two stakes and one bunk). For example, a log trailer could have up to 20 stakes and 10 bunks. The overall dimensions are 102” (width) by approximately 120” (height).
Both the stakes and bunks are pultruded using more than 70 percent unidirectional and triaxial glass fiber in the Baydur PUL 2500 resin system. A dark grey color was chosen to minimize the ultraviolet– (UV) degradation of the parts. Overall weight for a set (two stakes and one bunk with steel adaptors) is approximately 200 lbs., a reduction of 40 percent when compared with the steel equivalent.
The new timber trailer is unique not only for the weight reduction it achieved, but also for its impact resistance, which an equivalent product (made of steel) could not provide. Where a steel picket deforms permanently, the composite equivalent retains its shape very well. If the composite parts crack when being abused, they can still safely hold the load. Extensive testing, both static and dynamic, was performed on the new design in order to assure its safety.
The project is now in its final phase. Deloupe, manufacturer of cutting-edge road transport equipment, made a prototype of the trailer, which hit the road January 17, 2011. It will be in operation for six months and will then be evaluated for potential commercial production.
Attendees of Composites 2011 exhibition and convention, being held in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., February 2-4, can get a first hand look at the new timber trailer parts by visiting the Bayer MaterialScience LLC booth (#311) where they will be on display.