A response to the question – Is Advanced Composite tubing the right choice for Rescue Struts?
What would you think if we told you it’s a fact that the world may be flat, that the sun might revolve around the earth, and that it is probably impossible for airplanes to fly?
You would tell us that we are not stating true facts. But look closer – we did state true facts. Except that we stated facts as believed many, many years ago and published in old, obsolete documents. And we never said that these things were facts, but that they may, might or probably were facts. We can even site old “scientific articles” to support these “facts”.
Today we call this “Fake News”.
A recent “scientific” paper published by another Strut manufacturer attempts to build a case against using Composites in the manufacturing of Rescue Struts. They use small pieces of internet articles clipped from Department of Energy and Army Corps of Engineering documents, along with their own failed test program, to indicate that Composites “may not” be appropriate for use in making Struts, that Composite Struts are “marketing hype”, and that our Struts “might not” survive in a harsh Rescue environment. Reading their paper may lead you to believe that Rescue 42 Struts are made of Fiberglass, that the pins are weak, the Strut tubes “might” soak up water like a sponge and “may” dissolve in sunlight. Using these ‘facts’, they assert that their Struts, which are made of steel signpost type material, are the better choice.
But take a closer look at their ‘facts’ and test the validity of their sources. Upon examination, the articles quoted in their “scientific” paper are all over 20 years old and aren’t even available on the internet anymore! As you can imagine, technology and Advanced Composite development has progressed dramatically in 20 years.
Let’s use real, current facts to debunk their “fake news”.
First and foremost is the undeniable fact that there are currently tens of thousands of Rescue 42 TeleCrib® Kevlar Composite Struts in the field successfully performing Extrication and Rescue all over the world every day! Not one has soaked up water, fallen apart in sunlight, etc. That is the strongest proof possible that their claims are not valid.
Contrary to the other paper’s use of the obsolete term “Fiberglass Reinforced Polymer”, the correct term for our type of material is Advanced Composite, which includes Carbon fiber, Kevlar (Aramid) fiber and other fibers including Graphite and Ceramic. Here are some samples of Advanced Composites, similar in composition to the TeleCrib® struts, used in harsh, tough, and critical modern applications, all which chisel away at the false allegations in the “fake news” article:
Let’s talk about the material we actually use in TeleCrib® Kevlar Composite Struts. Rescue 42’s proprietary Advanced Composite tubing was first developed in 2004 with the help of the DuPont and Boeing companies. We wanted a material that was lighter and stronger than our old steel signpost Struts. Additionally, we wanted to make sure these new Struts were tough enough for the Rescue environment, be impervious to moisture, and resist harsh chemicals such as battery acid. For additional safety, we didn’t want them to conduct electricity. This was no small task, but we were able to take advantage of the cutting-edge research Boeing and Dupont were engaged in to develop strong, tough, lightweight materials for modern aircraft and apply it to our tubing.
Our TeleCrib® Strut tubes are manufactured using state of the art Advanced Composite production methods. The pultruded layers of Kevlar and other super fibers are bound together in an Epoxy matrix and bonded under extreme heat and pressure. These tubes are extremely strong but lightweight, tough, waterproof, resistant to most solvents and corrosives, highly resistant to sunlight (UV degradation), and non-conductive.
The Composite TeleCrib® struts have been actively used for vehicle stabilization and Rescue by thousands of Fire/Rescue departments for over a decade. They have consistently proven themselves to be a critical, trusted, and dependable asset to quickly stabilize accident scenes, support complex rescue scenarios, and improve Firefighter and victim safety.
But let’s take this even further and see what else the “too delicate for harsh environment” Advanced Kevlar Composites are doing in today’s world besides stabilization and rescue.
The industry leading Boeing 787 Dreamliner is over 50% Advanced Composite by weight (80% by volume) with Advanced Kevlar Composites similar to ours used throughout. (Source: The Boeing Corporation)
You can be sure that modern aircraft wouldn’t be built with Advanced Kevlar Composite wing and tail structures if Kevlar Composites dissolved in sunlight, absorbed water, became weak in warm conditions, or in any way couldn’t stand the harsh environment of flight. Clearly, none of these Composites suffer any of the problems described in the other manufacturer’s “scientific” paper.
Let’s now examine some of the sources quoted in this other paper. It is stated that the Department of Energy warns against using Composites, when in fact, the Department of Energy is so enthusiastic about using Advanced Composites that they have started an organization called the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation. IACMI is a progressive public-private partnership designed to support the wider adoption of Advanced Composites in DOE programs and is tasked with creating clean energy solutions and catalyzing manufacturing competitiveness across the U.S. Advanced Composite ecosystem.
The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is also actively using Composites to protect or replace older steel structures that are too heavy, weak and suffer from corrosion. From a recent article;
“Why Composites for USACE? Hydraulic structures are exposed to demanding loads and severe corrosive conditions. Composites provide excellent choice of materials for use with their strength, corrosion, and wear resistance for these extreme environments.” (Source: USACE)