The Centre de Développement des Composites du Québec (CDCQ) of the Cégep of Saint-Jérôme helps Quebec composites companies develop leading edge materials and processes. The CDCQ was given a challenging mandate from Abitibi Co to develop a traditional canoe at a fraction of the weight of wood. To do this, the CDCQ called upon their network of composites companies. A team of experts, from various companies, was assembled with Abitibi Co assigned the canoe design and manufacturing, Scott Bader the resin and Texonic the reinforcements. With the college of Saint-Jérôme being the only institution offering technical training in composites, it was only natural that it would offer four of its students the chance to produce the canoe. They have been able to work with the researchers and technicians of the CDCQ and acquire valuable practical production experience that they will carry in their careers.
In the context of its collaboration with the CDCQ, Scott Bader suggested their urethane acrylate resin Crestapol 1250LV. The three main criteria that drove the CDCQ to choose Crestapol 1250LV were: The extremely low viscosity which allows infusion with no voids, the transparency of the resin that allows the flax fibre to shine through with the glass laminate and the weather ability of the resin that will resist UV and exposure to the elements.
The team had to overcome some challenges working with the flax fibre as it is a natural fibre that does not behave in the manor of more traditional composite fibres such as glass or carbon. The result has demonstrated the feasibility of the use of flax fibres and its perfect integration with the wood components. The transparency of the glass/flax composite laminate has a distinct aesthetic, echoing the traditional wood materials yet with a modern twist.
Fabrication of the canoe was completed in December, the end of the school year in Quebec. The finished canoe begged to be tested and the team looked around for a lake that wasn’t frozen solid! In the end, to everyone’s delight, the college swimming pool was made available, allowing the canoe to be tested.
This collaborative project allowed the CDCQ to demonstrate it was possible to build an infused canoe using natural fibres at a weight comparable to the best glass fibre canoes available on the market today. Working together with its industrial partners (Abitibi Co, Scott Bader, Texonic) the CDCQ showed that team work and collaboration yield innovative solutions to industry challenges. The synergy between the Saint-Jérôme College and the CDCQ allows the CDCQ to expose its students to enriching work experiences that will help them meet the future challenges of the industry.