Bauer Hockey Inc. (Toronto, Ontario, Canada) announced on Sept. 24 an exclusive multiyear partnership with Propex Operating Co. LLC (Chattanooga, Tenn.), the producer of CURV composite technology, for its elite-level skates. CURV is a self-reinforced thermoplastic composite material made by means of a patented technology developed by Propex. Bauer uses the material in its current line of skates, including the SUPREME TOTALONE NXG, the SUPREME ONE.9 and the VAPOR APX.
CURV technology involves an extruded polypropylene film that is stretched into tapes with exceptionally high stiffness and strength. These tapes are then woven into fabrics and undergo a patented hot compaction process in which the surface of every tape is partially melted, creating a matrix that bonds the tapes. The result is a self-reinforced polymer that combines the strength and stiffness benefits of fiber directionality in a matrix combined with the advantages of a homogeneous material (there are no internal coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) mismatches, etc.). The material is then thermoformed at pressures of 5 bar/73 psi and up, depending on the complexity of the part, and at temperatures of 150°C to 160°C (302°F to 320°F). The typical cycle times are very fast, less than 60 seconds. The consolidated sheets are slit to standard or customer-specified lengths. In the case of Bauer skates, CURV captures exceptional mechanical properties by weaving different tapes, without requiring additional reinforcement or structure, to maintain stiffness where required. As a result, the product is said to yield high tensile strength and outstanding impact resistance at a significantly lower weight than many other composite materials.
“Utilizing state-of-the-art materials for our equipment is a priority because players are always looking for maximum performance and protection, and they know our brands meet these demands,” says Kevin Davis, president and CEO of Bauer Performance Sports. “Our partnership with Propex is a continuation of this commitment, and we’re pleased this exclusive relationship has been extended.”
“Propex is thrilled to be exclusively partnered with the leading hockey skate manufacturer in the industry and believes BAUER has used CURV Composite Technology in a way that showcases the technology’s key properties and benefits,” says Dave Gartshore, business VP for CURV at Propex. CURV has also been incorporated into many automotive applications and is used by Samsonite (Denver Colo.) for its Cosmolite hard-sided luggage line.