Improved surface texture of rotor blades
The German speciality films manufacturer Infiana and the paints and coatings specialist AkzoNobel announced that they will be working in close cooperation on the release film technology FlexPlas and its applications for composites production in the wind power industry.
“Infiana and AkzoNobel are highly complementary organisations. Both are leaders in their respective markets. Our cooperation creates special synergies that will be of particular interest for the wind power industry“, said Markus Stieglbauer, Global Business Manager Industrial Coatings at AkzoNobel. Markus Peske, Vice President Composites at Infiana, added: “I see the cooperation between AkzoNobel and Infiana as an important step in optimising production processes for turbine blades. We look forward to our joint future and believe that we have set a milestone in part manufacturing that will benefit the entire industry.”
The collaboration allows for qualitative improvements in surface texture during wind turbine blade production. “Our testing has returned above-average results. Combining coating and film in the manufacturing of blade components creates an optimisation in the production process“, noted Stieglbauer. “Beyond the improved surface quality, there is also a reduction in process costs and lower environmental impact. The complex grinding and filling processes needed to activate the part’s surface are eliminated and coating weight can be further optimised“, explained Soheila Salehi-Schneider, Project Leader FlexPlas at Infiana.
Significantly shortened production time
In wind turbine manufacturing, process lacquer and topcoats are applied to turbine blades as lasting protection for the blade, as well as for optical reasons. Applying these lacquers is a complex process. First, all release agents must be removed from the cured component through cleaning, grinding, and filling before any lacquer can be applied. After this, gelcoats are applied in a series of layers. At the same time, the mould must be cleaned to prepare it for the next part. This is where the new technique comes in: by applying the gelcoat directly to the FlexPlas release film after it has been deep-drawn in the mould, the coating can be cured alongside the part in just one process step. “The advantages are obvious: relevant process times are reduced by up to 60 %, the overall risk of coating defects is noticeably lower, the process becomes more environmentally friendly, and workplace safety is increased“, added Salehi-Schneider.
The FlexPlas release film technology makes it possible to produce composite parts without liquid release agents. With an elongation of up to 300 %, the film can be applied to moulds like a second skin. Both the mould and the component remain residue-free after curing; time-intensive cleaning and activation steps are no longer necessary, and the end product is immediately ready to paint and ready to bond. This substantially reduces corresponding process times and creates cost savings. The release film can be used in all relevant composite industries, including the aerospace, wind energy, automotive, and medical markets.