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10/6/2008 | 21 MINUTE READ


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The inaugural COMPOSITESWORLD Expo Conference and Exhibition draws participants from all segments of the industry, including many new faces.


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 COMPOSITESWORLD, publisher of High-Performance Composites and Composites Technology magazines, has deemed its inaugural COMPOSITESWORLD Expo 2008 Technical Conference and Exhibition a rousing success. Held at the Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel and Convention Center in Schaumburg, Ill., on Sept. 2-5, 2008, the conference and exhibition drew nearly 1,600 attendees. Among them were many who are new to the industry and are looking for the products, processes and technology needed to help them update their practices and enter the world of composites.

The two-track Technical Conference, presented by the COMPOSITESWORLD Conferences team, focused on principles of design and manufacture of composite materials and received excellent reviews from attendees. The Introductory Track was designed for those new to the composites industry, including those familiar with traditional materials-engineering industries, such as metalworking. Sessions acquainted them with the properties of fiber-reinforced polymers, the principles of CAD/CAM design and the unique challenges involved in manufacturing with composites. Sessions also outlined the wide variety of processes that can be used to form composites, including compression molding, resin transfer molding (RTM), vacuum-assisted RTM (VARTM) and light RTM, and prepreg with autoclave curing — with advice on how to select the process that will best accomplish the design and performance goals in a particular application.

Meanwhile, composites-industry veterans took advantage of the Advanced Track, which began with an overview of finite element analysis (FEA), design and manufacturing software, such as CATIA and FiberSIM, and how these programs can be integrated into product development and toolmaking regimes for advanced composite design and processing, including complex ply books, automated fiber placement (AFP) and automated tape laying (ATL) systems.

"It was gratifying to me and our conference speakers to see many new faces in our conference audience, especially in the Introductory Track," said COMPOSITESWORLD Conferences director Scott Stephenson. "It showed us that we were able to get the word out to many people in the traditional materials processing industry who are eager to learn more about composite materials and processing."

Keynote addresses were at full capacity. Dr. Linda A. Cadwell Stancin, manager, material and process technology — product development, Commercial Airplanes, The Boeing Co. (Chicago, Ill.), presented the Wednesday keynote address, "Composites Technology: One of the Key Elements for Performance-Driven Commercial Aircraft." Cadwell Stancin focused her keynote address on the history of composites use at The Boeing Co., current use of carbon and glass fiber composites in the 787 Dreamliner, and what the commercial aircraft industry needs from composites suppliers and manufacturers for future aircraft.

The Thursday keynote, "Corvette ZR1: Composites, Performance and Automotive Passion," was presented by Tadge J. Juechter, Corvette and Cadillac XLR chief engineer, General Motors (Flint, Mich.). Juechter, who brought the much-admired Corvette ZR1 to the Expo, emphasized the importance of composites to the Corvette since the vehicle's inception, noting the material's critical role in lightweighting and overall innovation. He noted in particular that the Corvette's light weight provides the best power-to-weight ratio in its class for the price.

A standing-room-only crowd heard Chris Red, editor and VP of market research, Composite Market Reports (CMR, Gilbert, Ariz.) present the lunchtime lesson on Thursday, "Outlook for Composite Wind Turbine Blade Manufacturing" — one of the industry's hottest growth segments. (To read Chris Red's recent wind energy market report, written for HPC's sister magazine Composites Technology, click on the link in "Learn More," at right.)

The technical conference ran concurrently with a vibrant exhibition that represented all facets of the composites industry. More than 75 exhibitors presented the newest and most innovative products, processes and technologies to the event attendees. "We had a wonderful and exciting four-day event," says COMPOSITESWORLD's publisher, Ryan Delahanty. "I heard time and time again from our exhibitors that we attracted an extremely qualified group of composites decisionmakers to our exhibition. In some cases, our exhibitors were able to make connections and build new business relationships that they have been trying to create for several years."

 "COMPOSITESWORLD Expo got off to a strong start with a well-attended educational conference that helped bring those new to composites up to speed while helping veterans keep up with new technology," concludes CT editor-in-chief Jeff Sloan, noting that the positive response from those on  the show floor "proves that there is a place for the CWExpo, and we look forward to returning next year."

 Indeed, the return is already set: COMPOSITESWORLD Expo 2009 will take place at the Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel and Convention Center in Schaumburg, Ill., Sept. 29-Oct. 1, 2009.


The CT editorial staff was on hand and collected, for the benefit of those who couldn't make it to the Expo this year, the following data.

A2 Technologies (Danbury, Conn.) brought to the show its Exoscan handheld Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) system, designed for nondestructive testing of composite structures. The system can detect degradation within the composite structure due to unwanted thermal excursions and environmental oxidation. Tests of the system show that it can predict the reduction in strength of an epoxy carbon composite due to high-temperature exposure.

Custom engineering and manufacturing services provider Acrolab Technologies Ltd. (Detroit, Mich.) showed its custom Isobar superthermal conductors, an enabling technology in the company's custom "in mold" heat transfer systems and cooling systems. According to the company, the conductors can transfer heat in excess of 20,000 times the rate of a solid copper bar of the same geometry. Available for both compression and injection thermoset molding processes, the technology improves mold surface temperature uniformity and increases throughput of thermal energy per unit of time during cure.

Adhesive Systems Inc. (Frankfort, Ill.) featured, among its many products, a line of cyanoacrylates as well as advanced structural adhesives. The Advanced Performance Series offers cyanoacrylate adhesives that are suitable for use in bonding fiberglass components. The company's Maximum Performance Series consists of no-mix structural adhesives, UV curable adhesives, one- and two-part epoxies and two-part methacrylates.

Advanced Flexible Composites Inc. (Lake in the Hills, Ill.) emphasized its line of DuraFlow porous release fabrics and DuraStick Teflon tapes and fabrics. Duraflow is a woven fiberglass lightly coated with PTFE. Designed to be breathable, it can operate in temperatures from 400°F to 550°F (-73°C to 288°C) during prepreg and vacuum bagging processes. DuraStick products can be used as mold release films, flame spray masking, protective film applications or as insulation layers.

AIN Plastics (Madison Heights, Mich.), a division of ThyssenKrupp Materials NA, showcased its portfolio of industrial plastic shapes in high-performance engineering plastics, developed for the fabricator and OEM communities. The company is a leading fabricator and distributor of stock shapes and distributes products from Quadrant Engineering Plastics, DuPont, Axson, Ensinger and others for a range of applications. 60740

Bayer MaterialScience LLC (Pittsburgh, Pa.) came to the show with its Blendur line of polyurethane resin systems. Previously introduced in Europe but new to the North American market, the resins feature high glass transition temperatures (Tg = 280°C/536°F), heat-resistance up to 240°C/464°F, long-term thermal stability at more than 200°C/392°F and good mechanical and electrical properties up to 200°C/392°F. These properties, combined with low smoke and fire-spread ratings, make them suitable for high-heat applications in aerospace, automotive, rail and electrical markets.

Bulk Molding Compounds Inc. (W. Chicago, Ill.) demonstrated its range of custom-formulated thermoset bulk molding compound (BMC) materials. The company, acquired by private equity investor Citadel Plastics Holdings Inc. earlier this year, offers BMCs for appliance, electrical, kitchen and bath and other markets, including BMC 940 and 945 conductive molding compounds for bipolar plates used in fuel cells.

CGTech (Irvine, Calif.) demonstrated VERICUT, a suite of machine-independent, offline programming and simulation software for automated tape layers and fiber placement machines,. It features two separate applications: The first, VERICUT Composite Programming (VCP), reads CAD surfaces and ply boundary information and adds material to fill the plies according to user-specified manufacturing standards and requirements. Layup paths are linked together to form specific layup sequences and are output as NC programs for the automated layup machine. The second, VERICUT Composite Simulation (VCS), reads CAD models and NC programs, either from VCP or other composite layup path-generation applications, and simulates material application to the tool via NC program instructions in a virtual CNC simulation environment.

Ciba Corp. (Newport, Del.) drew attention to its MELAPUR 200 halogen-free flame retardant (melamine polyphosphate) for thermoset composites. Reported benefits of the flame retardant include reduced smoke and corrosion, synergy with other flame retardants and the ability to maintain critical properties of the formulation. It decomposes endothermically above 350°C/662°F, acting as a heat sink to cool the polymer and release phosphoric acid and nitrogen, which react with the polymer to form a flame- and heat-resistant intumescent char layer.

The focus at the Coastal Enterprises (Orange, Calif.) exhibit was on Precision Board Plus, which has a tight, fine cell structure that reportedly makes it easier to machine and produces more chips and less dust. Colored green to call attention to its formulation from eco-friendly components, the Plus products come in two versions: PBHT (high temperature) for heating to 300°F/149°C or PBLT (low temperature) for heating to 200°F/93°C. Additionally, the material does not outgas and, therefore, has no detrimental effects on prepreg. The board is available in densities that range from 4 lb/ft³ to 45 lb/ft³ in two standard sheet sizes, with thicknesses as great as 24 inches/610 mm.

Composite Polymer Design/Endurance Technologies (S. St. Paul, Minn.), formerly Epoxical Inc., demonstrated its epoxy resin infusion systems for a wide variety of applications, including marine, industrial and aerospace parts. The company offered attendees its eight-page Infusion Products Guide, which gives the user valuable information about the selection, processing and curing of its room-temperature, medium-temperature and high-temperature epoxy resins, complete with product data tables.

CompuDAS (Shelton, Wash.), sharing a booth with Wisconsin Oven (see item below), demonstrated its control monitoring, data-acquisition and test-automation equipment and systems, including the SG6 control and monitoring system for ovens, autoclaves and presses. This Windows-based system can expand to 96 channels, supports eight types of thermocouples and displays real-time data on a monitor.

Dassault Systèmes Americas Corp. (Woodland Hills, Calif.) highlighted its product lifecycle management (PLM) applications for composites design and simulation, including CATIA for virtual product definition, SIMULIA for virtual testing and DELMIA for virtual production. The company was well represented at the Expo with its software products the subject of several papers presented at the conference.

DIAB Inc. (DeSoto, Texas) showed its range of structural sandwich core products, including Divinycell F series polyether sulfone (PES) foam products with very high temperature capability and low fire/smoke/toxicity (FST) properties. F-series core is prepreg compatible, can be used in processes with cure cycles that reach temperatures as high as 220°C (428°F), has good mechanical, fatigue and processing properties, high temperature resistance (220°C to -195°C or 428°F to -319°F), low water absorption (2 v-%) and can be supplied in ready-made kit form.

Dow Epoxy Systems (Midland, Mich.) emphasized its Fortegra line of toughened epoxies and epoxy tougheners and the most recent addition to it, Fortegra 383-50. This toughened product — 50 percent (by weight) of epoxy resin and 50 percent Fortegra 100 toughener — reportedly can be formulated and cured similarly to standard bisphenol A epoxies without significantly affecting the viscosity, glass transition temperature, corrosion resistance, cure rate or chemical resistance of the final composite. The company also offered a reminder that it has rebranded its line of epoxies for wind energy applications. The epoxy formerly known as Polypox is now Airstone and features a suite of resins for moldmaking, hand layup, infusion and adhesive applications.

Elliott Co. of Indianapolis Inc. (Indianapolis, Ind.) showcased its ELFOAM line of rigid polyiso/polyurethane thermoset foam core materials in a range of densities. The products can be supplied in block, sheet and/or custom shapes in thicknesses up to 25 inches/635 mm. ELFOAM provides dimensional stability up to 300°F/149°C, good chemical resistance and weight reduction for a range of applications.

Flemings Textiles Ltd./Scott & Fyfe Ltd. (Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, U.K.) exhibited its range of textile products, which includes a variety of composite and technical fabrics supplied worldwide to various markets, including the automotive, industrial and medical sectors. Polymat "Hi-Flow" fabric was on display, the company's unique cored textile that offers a number of benefits to fabricators that use processes such as resin transfer molding (RTM), RTM light, vacuum assisted resin transfer molding (VARTM) and vacuum infusion. Because of the material's excellent flow characteristics, the flow medium is said to cut production times and enable successful use of filled and high-viscosity resins.

Frees Inc. (Shreveport, La.) featured its line of solutions for styrene fume removal, dust management and facility energy recovery. Its Dust-Free product is used to contain dust and keep it away from workers. Its Directed Air Flow system is designed to mitigate styrene exposure and helps shops comply with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Admin. (OSHA) employee styrene exposure limit of 50 ppm time-weighted average (TWA) or less. The company also offers direct digital control systems that can sense styrene-producing activity and adjust the shop ventilation system accordingly.

Glascraft (Indianapolis, Ind.) was at the show with its line of manual and automatic dispensing equipment. In its booth were the Spartan 2 and 3 machines, designed for the low-pressure injection of polyester and vinyl ester resin systems. All machines feature the Accu-Pressure active sensor that reportedly eliminates overpressurization of the mold.  The Spartan 3 is available in a version that features programmable RFID tags.

Huntsman Advanced Materials (The Woodlands, Texas) acquainted booth visitors with its extensive lines of high-performance epoxy, polyurethane and methacrylate adhesives and syntactics, composite resins and tooling materials. The company's growing line of rapid prototyping products was in the spotlight, including stereolithography materials and prototyping polyurethanes, epoxy and polyurethane tooling boards and moldmaking epoxies to support rapid modeling, prototyping, part production and composites fabrication.

On display at the I-Core Composites LLC (Cullman, Ala.) booth were CORRITE polyurethane structural foam and End-Grain (EG) Balsa core products. According to the company, CORRITE has been optimized for sandwich panel core applications and is intended to replace crosslinked PVC structural foams. A continuous production process reportedly ensures product consistency in the line's entire range of available densities. EG Balsa rigid and contourable structural core panels, come in densities as low as 7 lb/ft³ (112 kg/m³). EG Balsa Armor features a coating that incorporates an environment-friendly biocide to inhibit growth of bacteria, fungi and mold yet does not inhibit bond strength during sandwich panel lamination.

IPS Weld-On Structural Adhesives (Durham, N.C.) introduced new SS1500-series adhesives to its line. Although this two-component (1:1 mix) product is classified as a general-purpose adhesive, the company says it is designed to be effective particularly in primerless metal-to-metal and composite-to-metal bonding. A toughened adhesive optimized for shear strength, it achieves, when cured, a tensile strength of 2,500 psi to 3,100 psi (17.24 MPa to 20.68 MPa) and a shear strength of 2,700 psi to 3,200 psi (18.62 MPa to 22.06 MPa).

At its booth, ITW Plexus (Danvers, Mass.) focused on its line of structural adhesives for structural composites applications. The company's Fiberglass Fusion adhesive is designed for use with glass fiber-reinforced polymer products. It is said to crosslink so thoroughly that the fiberglass laminate in the joined components will disbond and fail before the adhesive bond does. The product line also features minimal sag and swim on vertical or inverted surfaces.

In the JHM Technologies Inc. (Fenton, Mich.) booth was the company's flagship product, the Infuser PRG, designed for the injection, at controlled flow rate and pressure, of polyester, vinyl ester and methacrylate resins and peroxide catalyst. The system features closed-loop PID control of injection flow rate with a pressure limit governor. It also has an automatic cavity vacuum-level confirmation feature that begins injection only when a preset vacuum level is reached.

The golden fiber on display at the Kuraray America Inc. (Fort Mill, S.C.) booth was Vectran polyarylate liquid crystal polymer (LCP), touted as being able to outperform both aramid and glass fibers in antiballistic and other impact-resistant products. The fiber, in chopped form, is credited with a fourfold increase in the impact resistance of injection molded 40 percent fiber/60 percent polypropylene plates, compared to carbon, glass and aramid fibers.

Industrial oven supplier LEWCO Inc. (Sandusky, Ohio) highlighted the impending installation of two of its Heat-Pro curing ovens in configurations ranging from ready to use (with vacuum systems, temperature/vacuum controls systems in place) to basic (with temperature controls and ports to accommodate the customer's own vacuum system and controls). Ovens range from benchtop to walk-in to conveyorized systems, with natural gas, electric, steam or thermal-fluid heating systems.

An ISO 9000-certified manufacturer of high-performance and custom-formulated epoxy systems, Magnolia Plastics (Chamblee, Ga.) touted its wide range of structural/general-purpose adhesives, syntactics, electrically/ thermally conductive epoxies, potting/encapsulating epoxies and tooling resins for its global customer base involved in the aerospace, defense, transportation, electronics/electrical, energy, infrastructure, marine, sports/recreation, communications and other markets.

MATERIAL SA (Brussels, Belgium and Draper, Utah) announced that its Cadwind software, used to generate machine code for filament winding machines, is now available for use with filament winders produced by MF Tech Srl (Argentan, France). The latter makes filament winding equipment that uses multiaxis Kuka robots in a number of configurations to produce pressure vessels for a variety of applications. MF Tech systems, originally available in Europe only, are now available to the U.S. market.

McClean Anderson (Schofield, Wis.) demonstrated one of its midsized filament winding systems, the 4-axis, computer controlled Super Hornet filament winder, on the show floor and introduced its unique Tabletop filament winder, developed in response to customer requests for a winder capable of producing parts of extremely small size. The Tabletop system incorporates a complete filament winding package, featuring the company's latest technology, downscaled not only in size but price as well — a fraction of the cost of full-size systems, says the company.

Mektech Composites Inc. (Hillsdale, N.J.) announced that it has developed a product that will convert styrene and formaldehyde to carbon dioxide and water. The product, which will be introduced soon, uses a cartridge-based filter to process the chemicals and should help processors who are looking for ways of managing styrene emissions on the shop floor. The company also reported increased interest in its phenolic resins as an alternative material in applications that require resistance to fire with minimal smoke emissions.

M.V.P. Magnum Venus Plastech (Clearwater, Fla.) highlighted recently introduced accessories to its light RTM closed molding product line. These standardized mold fittings for use with a common universal mold insert included mold injection pipe or automatic injection valve (Turbo Autosprue), flange vacuum, catchpot, air ejector and a mold pressure sensor.

The National Composite Center (Kettering, Ohio) highlighted its commitment to its more than 100 partner firms to facilitate and leverage composite technologies for creating successful enterprises. The Center has provided incubation services for several successful start-ups in the composites industry.

Nida-Core Corp. (Port St. Lucie, Fla.) emphasized its NidaFusion STF and STO core materials, designed for use in resin transfer molding (RTM) and light RTM processes. STO comprises a rigid, closed-cell foam panel with fiber reinforcement on both sides, held together with glass rovings that are through-stitched at oblique angles. When infused with resin, they form a triangular truss network throughout the core. STF is similar but is built around a flexible closed cell foam (polyethylene or polypropylene), allowing the core to be pressure formed.

Weaver Oxeon AB (Gothenburg, Sweden) spotlighted its patented spread-tow carbon fiber reinforcements. TeXtreme spread-tow fabrics, are made via the company's TapeWeaving Technology, The flat structure of the fabric minimizes the negative crimp effect inherent in traditional wovens. Texero unidirectional tapes can be produced down to an areal weight of 40 gsm using large tows (>12K). Advantages reportedly include increased part surface smoothness, good drapability and conforms well to complex contours.

Plascore Inc. (Zeeland, Mich.), a leading manufacturer of honeycomb cores and lightweight composite solutions, exhibited its range of core products, including metallic, aramid fiber and thermoplastic honeycomb cores/sheets, clean room environments, custom composite panels and energy absorbers. The products are widely used in aerospace, marine, automotive, truck, trailer and rail transport applications.

Vacuum forming specialist Plastic Components Inc. (Elkhart, Ind.) made attendees aware of its design, engineering, toolmaking, prototyping and production capabilities. Its range of thermoformable sheet materials includes a wide variety of neat plastics and foam-backed or "soft touch" materials as well as glass- and carbon-fiber-reinforced laminate panels. The company also produces tools for vacuum forming: wood (for prototype or short-run parts) and aluminum-filled resin and cast aluminum tools that can be provided with or without temperature control systems.

Quickstep Technologies (North Coogee, Western Australia) demonstrated its Quickstep Process, a range of unique and patented technologies that can be used for out-of-autoclave manufacture of advanced composite materials. The company emphasized its work in thick laminates molded from 350°F-/177°C-cure prepregs, underscoring its reported ability to control the exotherm of reaction due to the fluid environment surrounding the part. Notable developments included some standard shapes, including C-channels and I-beams, in addition to flat plates, sandwich panels and curved parts.

Quintax CNC Routers (Stow, Ohio) demonstrated is range of industrial CNC router systems for plastics, composites, nonferrous metals and other materials. The company provides custom 3- and 5-axis routers designed with superior rigidity for accuracy at high acceleration and deceleration rates. Various combinations of tables and sizes, spindles, toolchangers and integrated control systems are available.

RCO Technologies (Roseville, Mich.) was at the show highlighting its services for composites processors. RCO offers design and engineering, prototyping, low-volume production, secondary processing and product testing services. The company works in CATIA, Unigraphics and Solidworks, offers design verification services, has 19 CNC machines, offers vehicle interiors prototyping, and can do heat staking, assembly and screw and nut driving.

Trelleborg, Emerson & Cuming Inc. (Mansfield, Mass.) revealed its purchase of exclusive global rights to a new tooling material developed by Horizon Composites Ltd. (Rotherham, U.K.), a lightweight, high-temperature alternative to Invar tool steel. The material, a woven ceramic fabric with a ceramic matrix, has a coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) comparable to carbon fiber, remains stable at temperatures up to 1000°C/1832°F and can be produced as thin as 3 mm/0.12 inch. It also features an integrated thin-film heating element, which can be used with most processes (including vacuum infusion and autoclave).

Tricel Honeycomb Corp. (Gurnee, Ill.) emphasized its unique honeycomb product, which features triangular cells formed from Kraft paper. Said to offer 95 percent open space, the core's construction can be customized by altering the cell size, the resin content and the basis weight of the Kraft paper (the density can be varied from 1 to 3 lb/ft³), and the honeycomb thickness can vary from 0.4 inch to 5.0 inches in increments of 0.005 inch (10.16 mm to 127 mm, in increments of 0.01 mm). Phenolic resins are available to enhance strength and resist moisture.

No longer focused only on the boatbuilding industry, VEC Technology LLC (Greenville, Pa.) continued to market its proprietary, patented and almost entirely automated Virtual Engineered Composites (VEC) closed molding system to interested parties in a variety of other markets. The company offers prospective VEC licensees a number of enabling services, including equipment design and installation, part engineering and development, pattern and tooling design and manufacturing. In addition to equipping start-ups, the company provides part manufacturing services, using the VEC system, as well.

VISTAGY Inc. (Waltham, Mass.) touted recently released FiberSIM 5.4. Previously integrated into several commercial CAD systems (CATIA V4, CATIA V5, NX and Pro/ENGINEER), the new release also is integrated with MSC.Software's (Santa Ana, Calif.) SimXpert finite element analysis software. As a result, both FiberSIM and SimXpert are linked directly to the CAD geometry so products can be designed, validated and optimized without having to transfer volumes of data between software tools and deal with the inconsistent data translations that result.

Out-of-autoclave tools and processes were a hot topic at Weber Manufacturing Technologies Inc. (Midland, Ontario, Canada), which is best known for its nickel vapor deposition (NVD) molds, but also makes tools from aluminum, Invar and other metals. The moldmaker emphasized its integrated heat transfer tubes, which can be attached to the back side of a tool to provide high-speed heating and cooling for thermoset or thermoplastic resin curing. Tom Schmitz, business manager at Weber, noting NVD’s good CTE and its ability to be easily machined, says the toolmaker’s NVD molds are gaining traction in the composites market as processors become more familiar and comfortable with the material. On display in the Weber booth was the fender molded by Gurit for a new sports car. The part, notes Weber, comes out of the mold with a Class A, ready-to-paint surface.

Wisconsin Oven Corp. (East Troy, Wis.), a manufacturer of industrial ovens and heating equipment for over 30 years, highlighted its broad product range for composites curing, including electrically heated, gas-fired and indirect gas-fired curing batch ovens. Options include data acquisition instruments, vacuum piping, pumps and transducers. The company recently designed and manufactured a natural gas fired walk-in batch oven for Plastic Fabricating Company Inc. (Wichita, Kan.).

Zyvax Inc. (Boca Raton, Fla.)showcased its range of mold cleaners and mold release agents, including Flex-Z variable release slip coat system, nonhazardous WaterWorks mold release agents for aerospace and QuickSkin, its new specialty product. QuickSkin, applied to machinable tooling block, pattern foam or other porous substrates with roller or brush can support the demands of rapid prototyping because it cures at room temperature in minutes, forming a smooth, vacuum-tight mold face for one-off or short run parts and expediting the creation of masters for molds or parts.