ALBERTS COMPANY PERFECTS PROCESS FOR ROTOCASTING POLYURETHANE WATERPARK RIDE SEATS
- Category: Case Histories
- Published on Monday, 03 August 2009 21:15
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Long-time manufacturer of custom-molded parts using advanced processes and techniques, The Alberts Company, Inc., Montoursville, Penn., is now rotocasting polyurethane seats for waterpark rides to reduce maintenance time and costs for amusement and theme-park operators.
Materials for Waterpark Ride Seats
- Category: Case Histories
- Published on Monday, 03 August 2009 21:07
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Alberts Company Process Produces Polyurethane Seating to Reduce Ride Maintenance Costs
Long time manufacturer of custom-molded parts using advanced processes and techniques, The Alberts Company, Inc., Montoursville, Penn., is now rotocasting polyurethane seats for waterpark rides to reduce maintenance time and costs for amusement and theme-park operators.
The new seats feature a streamlined design that replaces traditional foam-andmetal composition with a strong, seamless polyurethane shell into which a low-cost foam pad is inserted. The next-generation seats, molded from an advanced polyurethane supplied by Innovative Polymers, Inc., Saint Johns, Mich., are waterproof and 40% lighter than old-style seats to reduce wear-and-tear on ride support structures.
Brian Mitchell, Production Manager, says, “Our rotocast polyurethane seats have a service life three to four times longer than traditional seats because the shell does not rust and the pads are easily replaced on-site without necessitating a costly and timeconsuming reclamation process.”
The Alberts Company has designed and molded theme park ride restraints for amusement parks for many years. Among its customers are Busch Entertainment, Cedar Point and ride manufacturer Zamperla.
Originally, water-ride seats were built with a steel frame covered by flexible opencell foam. In service, the foam absorbed water causing it to degrade and the underlying metal to rust. For repair, seats were removed from the ride and returned to the manufacturer where foam padding was removed, the frame refurbished and new foam padding installed. The overall process was expensive, requiring a significant amount of labor plus the cost of shipping heavy seats to and from the factory.
Several years ago, The Alberts Company began investigating the use of rotocasting for molding of lightweight, plastic seats. The new ride parts were designed with a shallow depression that allowed for fast installation of a ¾-inch foam pad on which passengers sit. Seat backs were engineered to withstand use as a “hand hold” for passengers boarding and exiting a ride. The new seating proved to be a durable alternative to metal seats.
Most recently, The Alberts Company began building seats from an Innovative Polymers high-performance polyurethane to realize improved processing and endproperties.
The IE-3050 polyurethane now in use is formulated specifically for rotational molding. It has a very low viscosity and a 5 to 7 minute gel time that provides for even, complete coating of mold surfaces. The mercury-free polyurethane cures in quickly, permitting part demolding in as little as 30 minutes. Completed seats combine rigidity with good tensile strength.
To mold each seat, equal parts of IE-3050 resin and hardener are mixed and injected into a fully released epoxy/fiberglass mold. The mold is then rotated along both X and Y axes at varied speeds to produce a polyurethane coating of consistent thickness on the mold surfaces. After curing, the shell is backfilled with rigid foam for added strength.
Mitchell explains, “Initial set-up for a seat is a combination of expertise and trialand-error. We make a part, cure it and then cut it up to examine wall thickness and consistency. If too much polyurethane is used, the walls may incorporate lumps of plastic while too little material may result in unacceptably thin or uneven walls. By varying processing speeds and material amounts, a formula is ultimately finalized that yields consistent, high-quality parts.”
In service, the seats molded from Innovative Polymers IE-3050 polyurethane stand up to the rigors of use, providing ride operators with the required durability and low maintenance.
Video Camera Housings - Durable Polyurethanes Tough Enough for Underwater Use
- Category: Case Histories
- Published on Monday, 03 August 2009 18:38
- Hits: 1737
New Housings are Lightweight and Corrosion Resistant with Push-Button Controls
Today’s video cameras are more sophisticated yet smaller and easier to use than ever before. However, successful underwater shooting can be directly related to the quality of the camera housing. Ocean Images and Co. Inc., Cape Coral, Florida, has perfected the process for precision molding economical, watertight housings using high performance polyurethanes to reduce weight, optimize functionality and improve durability.
The polyurethanes, supplied by Innovative Polymers, Saint Johns, Michigan, produce robust housing components that can withstand exposure to corrosive marine environments and underwater pressures at depths of up to 200 feet.
According to Keith Loson, president of Ocean Images, “We have found that polyurethanes support our ability to quickly produce high quality housings for the ever growing variety of new camera models that are being introduced to the market. The polyurethane materials that we use also offer a variety of benefits for photographers.”
Loson explains that, in addition to requiring a significantly longer lead time to machine, aluminum housings are sometimes heavier and more cumbersome to handle than polyurethane housings. The polyurethane parts are also superior to clear ABS plastic housings.
“Clear housings can produce “ghost” images on shots because ambient light is able to penetrate the housing. By contrast, Ocean Images products are molded using black polyurethane. The solid-colored housings promote improved viewing of the video screen and reduce ghosting with light penetration limited to the clear front shooting port and the rear viewing/access plate,” he says.
Ocean Images designs and builds its underwater housings for a full range of camera model and styles from Sony (including the new XR series), Canon, Sharp and Panasonic. The polyurethane housings feature positive touch, push-button controls for fast, easy camera function adjustments. The housings also offer outstanding visibility of both the viewing screen and the housing interior.
Building the Housings
Ocean Images custom designs its housings for each specific camera model. The process begins by machining an aluminum core block that is used as a pattern to cast RTV silicone rubber tools and also in the molding process. When tooling is complete, threaded metal inserts that will be cast in place as an integral part of the housing are installed and all core and mold surfaces are released. Then IE-70D black polyurethane resin and hardener are mixed in a 2:1 resin:hardener ratio and vacuum degassed to remove air bubbles that might cause voids in the final housing. The low-viscosity polyurethane is poured into the silicone mold and the filled mold is placed into a pressure tank where the housing cures at 60 psi room temperature for about three hours. When the housing is fully cured, the mold is opened and a hydraulic press is used to remove the core. The cured Innovative Polymers polyurethane has a Shore 70D hardness, flexural modulus of 250,000 psi, notched Izod impact strength of 0.5 ft-lb/in and tensile strength of 5,350 psi.
To complete each housing, front port and rear access plate openings are machined along with grooves for O-rings and seals that will ensure that the parts are watertight.
Housing handles are installed using the threaded inserts that were cast in place. Housings are then coated with a high visibility chrome yellow urethane and pressure tested to 200 feet.
About Ocean Images
Ocean Images is a family-owned business that has manufactured quality and affordable underwater video camera housings for sports and professional scuba divers for many years. The company specializes in Sony digital video camera housings and carries a large inventory for the most popular models. Ocean Images is also equipped to create custom camera housings.
Baut Studios - 14 Foot Tall Sculpture for Casino Lobby
- Category: Case Histories
- Published on Thursday, 04 June 2009 14:14
- Hits: 3913
Artist Turns to Advanced Polyurethanes
to Build “Coal to Diamonds” Sculpture
Casting large blocks of rigid polyurethane to replicate geologically varied coal samples from Pennsylvania mines, world-class artist Gerhard Baut has created a 20-foot tall sculpture as the signature architectural feature at the new Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs casino in Wilkes Barre, Penn. The base of the sculpture transforms from fossilized “soft” coal and peat-like polyurethane layers into bituminous and, ultimately, hard anthracite-like forms. The coal-like structure then transitions into 550 sparkling diamond-like clear polyurethane shapes suspended on cables that stretch to the casino lobby ceiling.
Baut and his team of craftsmen chose to build the sculpture using advanced polyurethanes from Innovative Polymers, Saint Johns, Michigan. The mercury-free materials, including a high-strength, high flexural modulus system and a rapid casting, water clear product, exhibit the handling and performance characteristics needed to accurately replicate varied coal surface features. The polyurethanes also accommodate hand-forming of individual cast pieces over a substructure.
Gerhard Baut, Artistic Director of The Baut Studios, Swoyersville, Penn., explains, “We discovered a new artistic medium with the fine-art quality of Innovative Polymers polyurethanes. The highly controllable properties of the products supported our ability to express the creative concept that led to the “Coal to Diamonds” sculpture.” He adds, “We found that the polyurethanes could be bent and shaped using techniques that I learned in handling glass when I worked as a Venetian glassblower.”
The unique Baut Studios sculpture is one of a series of architectural elements commissioned for the new $208 million, 300,000 square foot Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs gaming and entertainment complex. Earl y in the planning stages for the casino, the project management team sought to pay tribute to the Northeastern Pennsylvania region by utilizing local craftspeople to provide much of the design and construction skills for Mohegan Sun. Located near the new casino, The Baut Studios was an ideal choice for the sculpting project. Established in 1898 and in continuous operation since 1927, The Baut Studios remains a family-run enterprise that is world-renowned for its stained glass artwork, a bronze sculpture of Pope John Paul II which is part of the Vatican Collection in Italy, and numerous other religious and institutional artistic glass pieces.
According to Bobby Soper, President and CEO of Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, “The (Baut) sculpture embraces the history, culture and community of the local area.”
Building the Sculpture
The polyurethane sculpture is the product of a multi-step process that began with the conceptual design and followed through silicone rubber moldmaking, substructure construction and, finally, addition of the cast polyurethane sections.
In developing the sculpture, Gerhard Baut drew inspiration from his surroundings and the long-term involvement of his family and neighbors with the coal mining industry. After seeing the variety of coal forms and surfaces in the samples he obtained from a mine located just ¼-mile from The Studios, Baut decided to create the sculpture base using seven spiral-shaped polyurethane bands cast from geologically different coals.
To begin, Baut and his craftsmen made a series of nearly 100 silicone rubber molds from large, locally mined pieces of coal. At the same time, workers were building a substructure against which 1,000 lbs. of polyurethane would be applied. For needed strength and dimensional stability, the base was constructed from aluminum and plywood and then covered with individual squares of flame-retardant polyurethane foam.
Next, Innovative Pol ymers IE-3075 polyurethane was cast into the silicone rubber molds, yielding 4-foot square x ½-inch thick coal-like parts weighing between 25 and 30 pounds. The large polyurethane pieces were demolded while still soft and re-formed on the structure to produce the resulting sculpture that looks as if it were carved from coal.
For the “diamonds” part of the sculpture, Baut installed a series of cables extending from the top of the base to the ceiling of the casino lobby. Suspended immediately above the spiraling coal layers are a series of black “coal” blocks cast from the same polyurethane used in the base. The blocks slowly change shape to become diamond-like tetrahedrons. The “diamonds” that begin as a light black color, turn to gray, light gray and, ultimately, multi-faceted prisms of water-clear Innovative Pol ymers RC-72DC polyurethane that glitter like diamonds.
Baut summarizes saying, “The polyurethanes used for the Mohegan Sun project helped turn my artistic vision into the larger-than-life “Coal to Diamonds” sculpture. As we worked on the piece, we gained great appreciation for the stability of the Innovative Polymers materials. The products yielded castings with virtually no defects, even when exposed to changing temperature and humidity extremes. At the Baut Studios, we now view the IE-series and rapid casting polyurethanes as high-end sculpting materials equivalent to marble, wood and bronze.”
Pink Jeeps - Durable Polyurethane Components for All-Terrain Vehicles
- Category: Case Histories
- Published on Thursday, 04 June 2009 14:02
- Hits: 3317
Vehicle Components Tough Enough for Grand Canyon Tours
Built with Advanced Crosslinked Polyurethane
All-terrain vehicles used by Pink Jeep Tours Sedona to provide customers with a unique Grand Canyon Experience are specially designed and custom-built to combine off-road performance with passenger comfort. The hot pink-colored Tour Trekkers that hold 10 passengers have large vista windows for enhanced scenic views. Four-wheel drive vehicles are constructed on a heavy-duty, commercial-grade frame and feature durable grilles, fender flairs and bumper covers molded from a new generation polyurethane formulated using advanced crosslinked technologies from Innovative Polymers, Inc., Saint Johns, Mich. The TP-4004 system was selected by Prefix Corporation, which built the Trekker passenger compartments, because the TPO-like polyurethane is ultra-tough and capable of withstanding travel on rugged trails as well as the temperature extremes that characterize the Canyon. It is also easy to process even on large vehicle parts.