Pilgrim International Inc. has gone into production with an environmentally friendly, composite lamination process for its line of towables, replacing fiberglass reinforced plastic (FRP) with a lighter-weight product that offers a gel-coat, high-gloss finish.
According to the Middlebury, Ind.-based builder, TuffGloss has lower VOC levels and is lighter, harder, easier to repair, and virtually the same cost as FRP. The process will be used at the company’s lamination facility in Middlebury, which recently received a $1 million upgrade to significantly improve efficiencies and capacity.
“I’ve been doing this for 30 years and my dream forever has been to get away from the FRP and into something that is a hard-gel,” said Ken Mahaffa, manager of lamination manufacturing for Pilgrim.
The company noted that TuffGloss was developed over three years in partnership with Pilgrim’s suppliers. The result, according to Pilgrim, was a lamination technology “usually reserved for aerospace and automotive industries,” producing a finish that can be painted, buffed and waxed while providing a high UV resistance.
“For the industry, the exciting part is the ability to offer TuffGloss technology for the same price point as FRP without the heavier weight and price tag of composite glass,” stated Doug Lantz, vice president of product development.
According to Mahaffa, TuffGloss virtually solves RV lamination issues that have plagued the industry for decades.
“Distortion issues have always stalled the technology’s advancement,” he said. “People in the industry have had ‘toad-skinning’ and fiberglass distortion issues and have sat on their hands and pointed fingers at suppliers.
“We have been working closely with our suppliers to get right in the middle of the situation, solve the problems, and move to the next level of quality.”
Along with its supplier base, Pilgrim has entered into an exclusive distribution agreement for the initial launch of TuffGloss technology. Pilgrim will be unveiling products built with the TuffGloss finish at the National RV Trade Show Nov. 28-30 in Louisville, Ky.
“I can’t wait to see the reaction to what we have to show everyone in Louisville,” Dave Hoefer, chairman and founder. “Pilgrim is revitalizing the RV industry, and I’m proud to be a part of this innovative company.”