These core pieces of the farming puzzle are integral to a productive harvest. Since a farmer is only as effective as the equipment he’s using, its essential that manufacturers serving the agriculture industry look for ways to improve the quality and efficiency of farming equipment.
And improvements begin with design.
A great place to start is to improve upon the heavy steel being used as housing and paneling for these pieces of equipment. Steel is heavy, can only achieve a “boxy” look due to the limitations of stamping and is about to become much more expensive (see “What the steel tariff means to manufacturers.“)
Long Fiber Injection is a perfect fit to replace heavy steel paneling.
For one, an equivalent sized LFI part is up to 80% lighter than steel without sacrificing stiffness or durability. This can help alleviate the issues with soil compaction and erosion associated with heavy weights.
Because it is a closed mold process, LFI provides design engineers with the freedom to incorporate geometry into a panel. There’s no reason to settle for a flat steel panel when you can incorporate features like vents and other aesthetically pleasing designs.
Additionally, LFI parts can be painted in-mold. There is no secondary post-production paint process; each part can be ejected from the mold with a Class A glossy finish in a custom, pantone matching color.
Many manufacturers have already made the switch from steel to another material. The replacement material of choice is usually fiberglass. Fiberglass is durable and impact resistant; it was a good choice…30 years ago.
The fiber-reinforced plastic (FRP) process to produce panels is labor intensive because it’s done manually (hand lay-up). And just as anything that is hand made in bulk, it suffers from being inconsistent from part to part.
Producing an FRP part is also very time consuming, taking hours to cure a single part.
Worst of all, because it’s both time consuming and labor intensive, FRP tends to generate a very high per-part cost.
Today, just as fiberglass replaced steel long ago, we have now have the technology to replace fiberglass. LFI has all the benefits of FRP parts (strength and stiffness) without any of the drawbacks (expensive and inconsistent). No more adding bonded or bolted brackets to steel and FRP paneling for extra stiffness; LFI is stiff enough without bracketing, resulting in part consolidation and lower assembly time and cost.
Plus there are other unique things you can do with LFI that you could not with FRP, like adding B-side features like ribs, bosses and molded inserts.
To sum it all up, LFI paneling for balers, sprayers and windrowers can provide:
– Superior stiffness without requiring additional reinforcement parts for bracketing
– Class A finishes directly out of the mold (no post-production paint process required)
– B-side features to aid in strength and assembly
– Lower weights than typical agricultural equipment materials
– Corrosion/rust resistance
– Dimensional stability
– Parts up to 11.5’ x 11.5’
Because of the nature of working with polymers, we are able to partner with OEM’s to produce the necessary characteristics you are looking for in a composite material. We are able to do this by adjusting the amount of filler or with the use of a blowing agent to achieve a range of characteristics you require. We’ve got North America’s largest rotary LFI press, and continue to invest in cutting-edge technology and a strong, talented workforce to solve complex engineering challenges.
Romeo RIM has been producing LFI parts since 1999 and we are the only manufacturer of long fiber injection in North America. We continue to partner with agricultural OEM’s to produce strong, durable parts to their exact specifications. LFI has been proven in the field, on farming equipment such as tractor roof panels and knotter shields. To find out more about our design collaboration, guest engineering, prototype parts and tooling, and production manufacturing contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org