The American Composites Manufacturing Association (ACMA) recently announced its 2009 “Award for Composites Excellence (ACE)” at its annual industry trade show Composites & Polycon. The Award for Technical Innovation for Corrosion Applications was awarded to Kenway Corporation, Augusta, Maine for its FRP Abrasion/Corrosion Resistant Blind Flange.
While the 1,200lb composite flange used in a power industry flue gas desulphurization project is impressive in its own right, the technological innovation is actually the process Kenway Corporation used to manufacture the component. Typically, composite parts that measure over 5½” thick warp significantly during traditional open-molding manufacturing, resulting in costly post-machining. But a new nanotechnology, combined with Kenway’s proprietary vacuum infusion process, now allows for single-session infusions of high fiber-content structural laminates exceeding 6” in thickness without degrading the structural properties of the laminate or causing the typical warping, something which is a real challenge for traditional inhibitor-based systems. In fact, thus far Kenway has demonstrated that it can maintain tolerances of less than 0.005” per foot while using this process. As a result of this technology, Kenway was able to manufacture a part which exceeded the customer’s technical specifications while also dramatically reducing manufacturing costs, thereby making the company far more competitive in the marketplace.
Importantly, Kenway Corporation did not achieve this technological advance without significant contributions from team members. World-leading vacuum infusion expert Andre Cocquyt (GRPguru.com) consulted with Kenway throughout the project, developing how best to combine the nanotechnology advances with the vacuum infusion manufacturing process. Also participating were experts from Arkema Chemical, Cook Composite Polymers, and Ashland Chemical. Only by combining Maine-based composite manufacturing excellence with world-leading technology experts and then partnering with raw material suppliers was Kenway Corporation able to achieve this significant advance. This partnership model is increasingly common at Kenway Corporation and is what allows the Maine-based company to compete at a national level.
With this technological innovation, Kenway Corporation has further enhanced the advantages of composite products for corrosion resistant applications while also making composites more cost competitive when compared to traditional materials. The applications for this technology are endless. While the company will continue to build similar components for coal-fired power plant customers, Kenway is also developing this technology for much larger structural members that require complicated, thick web designs. Then this manufacturing technology can be applied to other markets such as infrastructure construction and rehabilitation, wind energy, transportation, and the military.
An additional key contributor to Kenway’s technological advance has been the Maine Technology Institute (www.mainetechnology.org). In October, 2007 Kenway received an MTI Development Award specifically to focus on growing this vacuum infusion manufacturing expertise and to make the process commercially viable when compared with traditional manufacturing methods and materials. This funding has been essential to Kenway Corporation organizing the team of experts which has allowed for this advance and will allow for further commercial progress. This MTI-funded R&D work is ongoing at Kenway.
Importantly, what has brought even further focus to Maine’s composite industry has been the Maine North Star Alliance Initiative. Established in 2006 by the Governor’s office, Maine’s North Star Alliance Initiative (www.maine.gove/wired) is an industry-led collaborative, synthesizing business, R&D, education, workforce, and economic development resources specifically targeting Maine’s composites and boatbuilding industries. As a result, Maine was able to attract composite industry experts such as Andre Cocquyt (GRPguru.com) and develop workforce training programs so that Maine’s composites and boatbuilding businesses could combine world-leading craftsmanship with world-leading manufacturing technology. Kenway Corporation has partnered closely with NSAI to grow the company’s manufacturing expertise and make the technological advances that have lead to this national award.
Kenway Corporation Background
Founded in 1947 by Kenneth G. Priest, Sr., Kenway Boats originally manufactured wooden boats of its own design. The next two decades of operation realized the evolution of fiberglass boats and other fiberglass recreational and domestic products. Gradually, Kenway Boats’ reputation for excellence spread to industrial customers and requests for repairs and small fabrications interrupted the production of boats. Finally, in 1966, the decision was made to focus exclusively on these industrial clients and Kenway Boats was replaced by Kenway Corporation.
Custom work and custom service are what distinguish Kenway. Specializing in industrial composite manufacturing of items such as piping, tanks, hoods, covers and other custom fabrications, Kenway Corporation is strategically positioned to serve its customers by offering complete engineering and design capabilities so that it may bring both standard items as well as “one-off” special molded fabrications from the design phase, through the manufacturing phase, Your browser may not support display of this image. to the final on-site installation at the customer’s facility. Diversification efforts over the past 10-years have brought Kenway’s industrial manufacturing to the aquaculture, waste and water treatment, energy, and Your browser may not support display of this image. architectural industries, and has also resulted in specialty marine contracts with companies like Hodgdon Yachts, Hinckley Yachts, and Derecktor Shipyards, including parts from traditional sail and motor yacht hull and superstructures to waterjet intakes for high speed ferries, along with the formation of sister-company Maritime Marine, LLC (www.maritimeboats.com), manufacturer of 14-25 LOA family fishing boats.
Today, Kenway Corporation, along with Maritime Marine, LLC, is a diversified composites manufacturing company serving a variety of markets but primarily focused on marine, pulp and paper, and the power industry while employing over (75) composite technicians, engineers, and associated staff. What links the company’s various business lines is: technologically advanced manufacturing techniques; products manufactured for exacting service applications; and the highest quality assurance procedures and processes.