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Transforming waste into raw material is also possible with composite materials

11 February 2022
The waste of raw materials is a critical problem in industry - both from the point of view of environmental sustainability, given the use of scarce resources, and from the point of view of financial sustainability, due to the consequent high and unpredictable production costs. As such, the transition to the circular economy, namely through the optimization and management of raw materials, becomes an imperative in the industrial world.

Recognizing this need, ALTO - Perfis Pultrudidos challenged INEGI to support the reuse of fiberglass, derived from waste from other processes, and thus extend the useful life of this resource. The company, which specializes in the manufacture of composite materials and pultrusion processes, therefore had the support of the Institute to create a composite gutter fence, made from recycled fiberglass.

As Rui Mendes, responsible for the project at INEGI, explains, "the process was studied and developed in a meticulous and rigorous way, to create a product of this range, certifiable and ready to be industrialized".

This required "an approach focused on design for manufacturing (DfM), in order to facilitate production and obtain a better product at a lower cost, and a rigorous numerical calculation in order to validate the product against a series of restrictive standards (EN 124-1 and EN 124-5) that characterize this type of product”, he adds.

In addition to product development, the INEGI team also developed a series of methods and tools for implementation in the factory, in the manufacturing process, to enable the reuse of glass fiber waste.

For Jorge Silva, the project's product development engineer, the development of this new product and respective process with the reuse of waste "brought to the table an alternative option with a lower ecological footprint, which allows ALTO to generate value from a resource that would be considered waste.”

ALTO - Perfis Pultrudidos was born in 1996 as a spin-off of INEGI, and since then both have carried out several projects together, in line with their commitment to research and innovation in the area of ​​composite materials.
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