Polymer concrete, also called plastic concrete or plastic cement, is a special type of concrete that contains a thermosetting organic binder (usually an epoxy resin) and a large amount (more than 50%) of dispersed filler (talc, crushed quartz, granite chips, etc.). d.).
Compared to cement concrete, polymer and polymer cement have increased tensile strength, less brittle and more prone to deformation. Polymer concrete is characterized by high frost resistance, abrasion resistance, resistance to aggressive liquids and gases, and water resistance.
Due to its strength characteristics and appearance, polymer concrete is also called artificial stone. It is used as a putty and primer, for sealing tanks, in the manufacture of bulk floors, for smoothing irregularities and defects in metal products, as a building material and in the manufacture of furniture. Countertops, sinks, items for equipment and decoration of memorials, statues and fountains, handrails for stairs, columns, etc. are made from this material.
The organization of the production of polymer concrete products does not require large investments and significant availability of experience and special qualifications. The injection technology used is quite simple, and the resulting products are characterized by low cost. At the same time, products from polymer concrete have almost all the properties of natural stone (including the ability to simulate a pattern) and can be made in the most bizarre forms and forms.
So, for starters, you will need a separate production room with an area of at least 80 square meters. It should be located in an industrial area (on the outskirts or outside the city) and, ideally, in a separate building, since harmful chemicals are used when working with polymer concrete. This area will be divided into several separate working areas and premises. The largest room with an area of about 12 square meters. meters - it's injection molding. Here will be the pouring of the liquid composition into molds and lamination. Since the injection mixture emits a very harmful substance, styrene, in a liquid state, this room must be airtight and equipped with a special local exhaust hood.
In the middle of this room is a table with an iron frame and a tabletop made of chipboard. It should be set at a level in absolute zeros, since the quality of the finished product directly depends on this. The workplace will be illuminated with fluorescent lamps. A separate area is intended for dusty work (cutting, grinding, other types of processing) using a hand tool. Here, you also need to make a separate powerful hood and put another table for carpentry and other utility work.
A separate small area (with an area of about 5-6 square meters) is used for storage and cutting of glass mat. It will also be necessary to equip a common room for current work, a separate room for staff and a warehouse of finished products and materials. It is strongly recommended that various substances be stored on separate racks so that in case of damage to the containers, no reactions between the reactants occur. If this rule is not observed, in emergency situations the formation of extremely toxic volatile compounds is possible, which could very well cause poisoning, chemical burns, and even human death. In addition to the separate storage of reagents on separate racks, you need to pay attention to their stability (it is better to further strengthen them by screwing them to the walls and / or floors).
Tables can be made independently from a metal corner. In addition, you will need shelves and racks for carpentry, locksmith and power tools. The list of necessary equipment includes a mixer, vibrating table, air compressor with a gun for blowing gelcoat, hand tools (grinder, polishing machine, electric drill and jigsaw, milling cutter, grinder). Also, fiberglass injection molds, hoods, scales (floor and table), plastic buckets, sieves, protective overalls and respirators for workers are required. Sand and chalk used in the manufacture of polymer concrete products should be well dried. To do this, you can use homemade appliances - a box of sheet iron measuring 1.2-1.5 meters long and 0.7 meters wide with sides 7-8 cm high. Legs of sufficient height are welded to the box to fit a spiral electric furnace under it . The sand is first sieved through a fine sieve, and then calcined until the moisture is completely removed.
In addition, you can independently make a vibrating table from a metal corner and sheet metal with a thickness of 2 mm, as well as an industrial vibrator. The cost of such home-made equipment will be about 30 thousand rubles. Some craftsmen make their own mixers for mortar from an iron barrel with an electric motor, compressor units that create the necessary air pressure from a metal frame and automobile compressors, as well as installations for hoods.
For the production of polymer concrete, the following raw materials will be required: injection and molding polyester resin (it is recommended to buy it from wholesale companies in packaging from 220 kg), hardener (MEKp sold in packaging from 5 kg) and a curing accelerator (cobalt octoate), gelcoat (black and white in packaging) 20 kg, as well as transparent to simulate natural stone), colored pastes for staining gelcoat, release agents (liquid and pasty), glass mat (for the production of fiberglass molds - thin, medium and thick), river quartz sand without foreign matter (sold in packages of 25 kg), chalk or gypsum G5.
Let us consider in more detail the process of manufacturing countertops and window sills from polymer concrete. First, a model of the future product is made of laminated particleboard with a smooth white coating. First, the desired perimeter for the future product is formed from prepared (polished and polished oak blocks). The edges of the workpieces are processed by the milling cutter. Try to ensure that the quality of the primary processing of the form is as good as possible, then less time you spend on fine-tuning the finished product. All parts must fit as tightly as possible to each other.
Treated sections are coated with a two-component automotive putty followed by grinding to obtain a perfectly smooth surface. Then several layers of spreading paste are applied. When it is finally polymerized, the model is coated with a gelcoat using a gun. After curing, it is covered with glass mat - from the thinnest layer to the thickest with each layer being impregnated with resin with the addition of a catalyst. The mold is left for a day, then removed from the model, polished, rubbed with a separation paste, covered with a gelcoat of a given shade and again left until the composition polymerizes completely. You need to rub the mold with a separating paste very carefully, otherwise you simply will not be able to separate the already hardened product from the mold.
While the gelcoat is polymerizing, it is necessary to prepare the main mixture of polyester injection resin with the addition of a hardening catalyst, dry sifted quartz sand and dry uniform chalk in predetermined proportions. Keep in mind that filling resins with dispersed fillers of more than 5% dramatically reduces their strength properties.
At the next stage, all components are poured into the mixer and thoroughly mixed until a viscous homogeneous mass is obtained. This mixture is poured into the finished form, and then it is installed on the vibrating table for several seconds. This is necessary to create a flat surface of the finished product and its uniform thickness. When the product is polymerized, the mold is turned over and removed from it. The finished product is ground and polished using special equipment and pastes.
Countertops, ebbs, covers on street parapets and window sills are considered the most simple to manufacture products from polymer concrete. Using one mold in one shift, you can get 2-3 castings with a properly organized working process and optimal air temperature for polymerization (about 20 degrees Celsius). The more varied molds you have in your production and the better the supply of consumables, the higher will be the productivity of your workshop. In the manufacture of large products of complex shapes, consisting of several parts, all elements are cast separately, and then bolted together.
In addition to chipboard, epoxides, unsaturated polyester resins reinforced with fiberglass, steel, aluminum (only for flat, uncomplicated parts), silicone, etc. are used for casting molds. In addition to river sand and chalk, dolomite in the form of gravel can be used as a filler, sand or powder, crushed slate, talc, mica, etc.
For work on a small production of polymer concrete products, 3-4 workers who have received appropriate training will suffice. Such training is provided by numerous suppliers of materials for the manufacture of polymer concrete. They provide their customers with detailed instructions and technologies for working with materials. One worker will apply a gel coating - this is a rather complicated operation, on which the quality of the finished product depends. In addition, you will need a technologist, but the team leader can fulfill his duties. Please note: all of your employees must use personal protective equipment at work (protective suits and special respirators). If you do not comply with this important requirement for production, you run the risk of getting big problems, no less heavy fines and various unpleasant sanctions up to the closure of the production.
It is advisable that the supplier you work with is located in your area. So you can significantly save on transportation costs and arrange the prompt delivery of the necessary raw materials.
The range of products made of polymer concrete is very wide and includes: heating sections, balcony flower boxes, sewer shafts, transformer elements, insulators, water tanks, fireplace tiles and floor tiles, concrete rings for wells, irrigation canals, containers for garbage, cladding panels, slate, foundations for machines, compressor covers, cabinet bases, building construction elements, pipes of various diameters, door frames, animal feeders, stairs, etc.
However, experienced entrepreneurs recommend that newcomers to this business do not take up several directions at once, but choose the simplest one for a start. Firstly, you will have time and opportunity to study all the nuances of such a production, master the technology and establish the production of quality products. Secondly, with a small assortment, you can more purposefully search for distribution channels, place advertisements, and negotiate with partners. For example, in the production of countertops and window sills, you can agree on mutually beneficial cooperation with manufacturers, sellers and installers of kitchens and windows. In addition, you can also work together with designers and architects, offering them a certain percentage for attracted customers. In the future, as the number of orders increases, profits increase and new customers appear, it will be possible to think about expanding the assortment.
The polymer concrete business requires a relatively small initial investment. All used materials, production equipment and tools can be found on sale, and some of the equipment can be made independently.
Competition in the market for such products is still not very high, demand in some regions exceeds supply, which allows young companies to quickly recoup their costs. Due to the high profitability of this business, the payback period of such a project is, according to preliminary estimates, 1.5-2 years.
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