Working with suppliers and a key customer partner, Vixen Composites LLC, an affiliate of Elkhart, Ind.-based Dicor Corp., recently achieved a significant breakthrough in developing a composite panel that meets the highest fire retardant rating for specialty construction applications.

According to a press release, the new panel was custom-engineered to meet stringent cosmetic and fire retardant requirements and will be initially produced for the off-site or modular construction industry to use in sub-assemblies for commercial and industrial facilities.

“The performance guidelines for this type of use are quite high,” explained Gordon Frost, general manager of Vixen Composites. “We were able to quickly design and gain acceptance of the structural and process-ability requirements, but the more difficult challenges were meeting the high cosmetic and fire retardant expectations.”

An accredited third-party testing agency verified that the panel product Vixen developed met the guidelines of ASTM E84, Class A (the highest of A, B and C classifications) for both the Flame Spread Index and the Smoke-Developed Index.

The challenge was to “cut the values of flame spread and smoke development in half” and maintain a “level 5 cosmetic surface” equivalent to painted drywall, said Frost.

“Our production teams worked very well together in outlining, producing and turning around each production run,” said Frost. “Our strategy was to benchmark the baseline performance of existing Vixen products relative to the key metrics outlined by the end customer and then work from there toward achieving each goal.

“Several iterations were necessary before successfully achieving the Class A rating with the ASTM E84 criteria, but we believe this will ultimately be a much desired attribute of our panel products.”

He added, “This kind of customer partnership highlights Vixen’s extensive capacity to meet the unique and specific requirements of the end customer. Vixen’s plan is to continue to work internally and with its strategic partners to refine and develop this technology for use in our panel products in a wide variety of applications and markets.”

To learn more about Vixen Composites and its products, visit www.vixencomposites.com.