Tag Archives: G/flex

G/flex Saves the Race

By Grace Ombry

Robert Patenaude had ten miles left to reach the finish line in the Bermuda One-Two offshore race when a 30-ton whale hit Perseverance, his C&C 41, seriously damaging the rudder. Not content to drop out of the competition, he called on his racer friends to help him remove the 160 lb, 9′-long rudder from the boat while it was still in the water. He reasoned that if the contenders in the Puma or Vendee Globe races could make major repairs without dropping out of a race, he could too. Continue reading

Gluing Plastic with G/flex Epoxy

By Tom Pawlak and Jeff Wright

One of our goals for G/flex® was an ability to bond to a variety of plastics. This was an ambitious goal because plastics historically have been used as mold release surfaces for epoxy, allowing it to release from the plastic when cured. While developing G/flex, we tested adhesion to a number of plastics with a variety of surface prep methods. We discovered that some plastics need only be abraded for good adhesion to take place. Other plastics required additional surface prep involving a flame treatment to form dependable bonds. We discovered that a few plastics, like polypropylene and acrylic and their molecular cousins, are difficult to glue reliably no matter how we prepared the surfaces.

Effectiveness of different surface preparation techniques on the adhesion of G/flex 655 Epoxy to various plastics
Plastic Surface Prep Tensile Adhesion (psi)
ABS Sand w/ 80-grit  1,854
Sand w/ 80-grit + Flame treat  1,813
 Alcohol wipe + Flame treat  3,288
PVC Sand w/ 80-grit  1,780
Sand w/ 80-grit + Flame treat  1,813
 Alcohol wipe + Flame treat  2,081
Polyethylene Sand w/ 80-grit    400
Sand w/ 80-grit + Flame treat  1,890
 Alcohol wipe + Flame treat  2,312
Polycarbonate Sand w/ 80-grit  1,870

ADHESION TESTING

Adhesion with G/flex to properly prepared plastics (other than polypropylene and acrylic) varies from about 1,700 to 3,300 psi, depending on the plastic and the surface prep used. We tested these bonds with the Pneumatic Tensile Test Instrument (PATTI). The table above shows average adhesion achieved by G/flex 655 Epoxy to various plastics with different surface prep. In many cases the adhesion is not enough to exceed the strength of the plastic, but it is considerably better than bonds between plastic and other epoxy formulations. The chart also shows the advantage of flame treating (especially in the case of polyethylene) and the advantage of alcohol wiping over sanding before flame treating.

JOINT DESIGN

It takes more than good adhesion to make a successful repair. We all know how well epoxy bonds to plywood, but it is common practice to use a scarf joint or butt block instead of a straight butt joint. Plastic joints should be treated much like plywood joints. Our Fiberglass Boat Repair and Maintenance Manual discusses the importance of grinding the proper bevel when repairing a hole or major crack in a fiberglass skin. The shallow bevel angle reduces the stress concentration between the repair and the original surface, and increases the amount of surface area for adhesion. Reducing the stress concentration often helps minimize the chance of a peel failure, which is a common way adhesives can fail on plastic surfaces. Testing has demonstrated that the same technique improves bonding strength in plastic panels and reduces the chance of a repair failing in peel.

Beveling and rounding the edges of the joint increases the bonding surface and reduces concentrations of stress on the joint.

 

This joint style in an edge-glued, 1/8″ thick HDPE strip holds tight when deflected.

GLUING PLASTIC WITH G/FLEX

G/flex has been available since 2007. Enthusiasm for this toughened epoxy continues to run high within our company and in the field because of the unique properties that G/flex offers.

BEVEL AND ROUND THE EDGES

To repair 1/8″ to 1/4″ plastic, we recommend increasing the surface area along the joint by beveling and rounding the edges to be glued. This strategy is effective for repairing cracks in plastic canoes and kayaks. To test G/flex for this type repair, we simulated splits in the bottom of a thermal-formed plastic hull by edge gluing 1/8″ thick high-density polyethylene (HDPE) sheets.

By beveling and rounding the edges of the joint with a sharp object, sanding, and flame treating the surface with a propane torch, we effectively glued this plastic together. Figure 3 shows plastic being tested under deflection after repair. The article Repairing a Royalex™ Canoe with G/flex Epoxy used this same joint style.

CONSIDER STIFFNESS

The thickness of a material has an exponential effect on stiffness. When repairing small plastic boats, the relatively thin hull helps reduce the stress in the repair because the entire bottom or side will often deflect a significant amount under a small load. Although the plastic hull shell has deflected significantly, the overall stress in the material is low.

A thicker, and stiffer panel can generate much higher stresses as it deflects and put more stress on the edges of the glue joint. Repairing stiffer (thicker) plastic parts requires more attention to the possible cleavage and peeling loads.

Making a fillet on the test sample billet of polyethylene. Fillets are used to increase the surface area of the joint.

The billet cut into individual, consistently prepared test samples.

USE FILLETS

Bonding surface area can be optimized with the use of fillets. Fillets are used to increase the surface area of the joint and reduce the stress concentration. The reduced stress concentration can help deal with off-axis loads which can cause the joint to cleave apart. We recently performed a tensile test on polyethylene butt joints by pulling apart samples with and without fillets (photos right). The samples that used fillets required almost 100% more force to pull apart.

A test sample with a filleted butt joint in the test fixture, before failure.

The same test sample with a filleted butt joint and after failure.

REACHING OUR GOAL

Our formulating efforts were successful. We had an epoxy that would bond to plastics and we had a strategy for making plastic boat repairs.

As word of G/flex spread, we received lots of calls from canoe and kayak liveries. They had damaged boats made of molded plastic that needed to be repaired quickly because their season was about to begin. The damage ranged from normal wear and tear on the bottoms near the bow and stern, to cracks and splits that appeared randomly on the hulls.

The G/flex Epoxy kits come with an instructional brochure that explains a variety of repair techniques including plastic canoe and kayak repairs and the technique for flame treating (below). Repairing a Royalex™ Canoe with G/flex Epoxy demonstrates the effectiveness of those repair techniques on a severely cracked canoe made of ABS plastic.

To flame treat a plastic surface, hold a propane torch so the flame just touches the surface and move it across the surface at a rate of 12 or 16 inches per second. Keep the torch moving and overlap the previous pass slightly. When done correctly, the surface will not discolor or burn in any obvious way. This technique oxidizes the surface and improves adhesion. For best adhesion, bond to the surface within 30 minutes of treatment.

 

Repairing a Royalex Canoe with G/flex Epoxy

By Bruce Newell and Stan Bradshaw

The wooden gunwales of Royalex canoes can rip a hull apart if left out in bitter cold temperatures. Somewhere south of freezing, the plastic body of the canoe shrinks while the dampish wooden gunwales expand. Unless the screws affixing the inwale and outwale are backed out, they pin a shrinking hull to an expanding gunwale, and something will give. That something is always the hull. Continue reading

D-Ring Pads and G/flex Epoxy

By Tom Pawlak

NEW POSSIBILITIES FOR HDPE BOATS

D-ring pads are often attached to flexible surfaces with urethane adhesives to gain load carrying capacity where there otherwise wouldn’t be any. They are used on waterproof fabric cargo bags, heavy tarpaulins and inflatable boats. They are also sometimes used on the decks of canoes and kayaks to hold cargo in place on long trips. D-rings are not typically used on polyethylene canoes and kayaks because the urethane glues are not recommended for use on HDPE (high density polyethylene) plastic. We decided to experiment gluing D-ring pads with G/flex 655 to HDPE plastic with that end-use in mind. Continue reading

Toughness of G/flex Epoxy

Fasteners Demonstrate G/Flex Toughness

By Randy Zajac

It all started when I got a tech call from somebody asking if WEST SYSTEM® 105/206 would accept a nail pounded in, after it was cured, with no pilot hole. I confidently said that it would not work well and in most cases cause a fracture in the epoxy. Just for fun, I went out in the shop and tried it because even though every tech advisor agreed it wouldn’t work, nobody had ever actually done it. Well, we were right—the nail caused a “brittle” failure.

Then I saw a 1/8″ thick piece of cured G/flex 650 epoxy sitting on my work bench that I had Continue reading

G/flex 650 and 655 Epoxies

Mixing G/Flex With Other West System Epoxies

By Jeff Wright

WEST SYSTEM 105 Resin-based epoxy is a very versatile system. For years, experienced users have been blending the various products in countless ways. For example, users may blend 205 Fast Hardener and 206 Slow Hardener to make a hardener with a modified cure speed. Different uses of 410 Microlight® Filler provide a further example. Many customers assume that the only use of 410 is to make a fairing compound—it is added to thicken epoxy to a peanut butter consistency to create a light, easily-sanded filler. However, 410 Microlight can be used in other ways. Jon Staudacher in Epoxyworks 22 described how he applied a “runny” mixture of epoxy and 410 to fill the weave on a composite part and reduce the Continue reading

WEST SYSTEM Launches G/Flex Epoxy

By Tom Pawlak

G/flex Epoxy is a toughened, resilient two-part epoxy engineered for a superior grip to metals, plastics, glass, masonry, fiberglass, and wet and difficult-to-bond woods. Introduced in June 2007, G/flex Epoxy is currently available in two consistencies: G/flex 650 Epoxy, a liquid epoxy, and G/flex 655 Epoxy Adhesive, a pre-thickened epoxy. Both have a 1:1 mix ratio.

G/flex Epoxy gives you 46 minute pot life and a long open or working time of 75 minutes at room temperature. It will reach an initial cure in 3–4 hours and a workable cure in 7–10 hours. Wait 24 hours before subjecting joints to high loads. Continue reading

Understanding Flexible Properties

By Jeff Wright

The Technical Staff at Gougeon Brothers, Inc. regularly discuss material properties in a variety of applications. For example, it is not uncommon for us to discuss with a customer how to use carbon fiber to stiffen a structure, such as the shaft of a kayak paddle, and then within minutes discuss with another how to bond a dimensionally unstable wood, such as oak, and ensure precautions are taken so that the relative movement of the wood will not cause a failure.

For the kayak paddle, the customer’s concern is that the epoxy will allow the stiff carbon fiber fabric to be as rigid as possible. For bonding the unstable wood, the Continue reading

Patch Holes in Aluminum Boats with G/flex Epoxy

By Rob Monroe

When we started testing G/flex Epoxy as a solution to leaky seams and rivets in aluminum boats, we put out a company-wide call for test boats. John Kennedy offered his old 15′ Michi-Craft canoe, saying he would bring it down from his cabin at the end of hunting season. Not smiling, he asked a few weeks later “just how big a repair we could handle.” It turned out John jack-knifed his utility trailer on an icy road, punching a fist-sized hole in the stern quarter of the canoe (Photo 1). Ouch. Continue reading

Fix Leaking Rivets in Aluminum Boats with G/flex 650

We have a video demonstrating aluminum boat repair: Fixing Leaking Rivets in an Aluminum Boat.

We wanted to experiment with using G/flex to fix leaking aluminum boats. I was quite surprised to find that every aluminum boat owner I talked to said they had some sort of leak. Within three hours, I had several co-workers volunteer their aluminum boats for the experimental fix using G/flex. Continue reading