Why are we better? I’ll try to be brief. The easiest way is to show you the proof that I have and you already understand the keystone side of the proof you have. Take a look at the attached file. It is the same data on our web site at: http://www.suncoastramairhoods.com/Hood%20Quality.htm.
The hood we used in this study was a [competitor’s] hood. I expected to see some thickness variation in their part because I know they are using chopper guns to manufacture their hoods just over the Mexican border from Brownsville, TX, but I never expected to see as much variation as there was. A chopper gun cuts glass string and spits it out with some resin. It is a very uncontrolled process. The only control of thickness is the guy’s eye and elbow. If Senor Pedro had too many tequila’s the night before or a pretty senorita walks buy while he’s spraying your hood, you got no control on a process that is difficult to control at best. The result is different thickness in the hood across the body and no two hoods are going to be the same. They look good on the outside because the mold controls the shape. Its Pedro and his chopper gun spitting out globs of fiberglass that controls the thickness. If you look at the data, the low spots on the keystone curve are so thin you could easily punch your finger through them if you knew where they were. You obviously got one that was a bit short around the hinge area. Suncoast product is shown on the top two line of the attached graph. We useonly the highest quality glass mat and resins. We construct our hoods in Florida, using local craftsmen/technicians. One of our guys has been with the company over 10 years. These guys lay out the same mat and use the same resin each time. In our process the thickness is controlled by the materials we buy and not the operator applying them. It’s easy to get the same thickness if you use the same high quality mat each time. And yes, getting lower quality mat can lead to some thickness variation but still much better than chopper guns. All our hoods are hand laid or Resin Transfer Molded (RTM). RTM has the added feature of being a two sided (closed) mold process. Hand lay up controls the thickness very well when the same high quality mat is used each time. RTM takes it one step further. The mold is gel coated the same in all three methods (chopper gun, hand lay up, and RTM). Chopper gun the spits globs of glass and resin then the guys try to roll it flat. Both Hand lay up and RTM takes the gel coated mold and lays dry mat that has been cut to shape into the mold. In Hand Lay up, the mat is then rolled with resin to saturate it and then left to cure in an open mold. RTM takes the mold and mat, then puts a top mold on it, clamps the top and bottom side of the mold together and resin is pulled through the mat by a vacuum system. The thickness of the part is completely controlled by the mold and will be identical each time if the process parameters stay the same.
Now in addition to just having much more stable processes, we add coring materials for stiffness, metal backing plates at all our attachment points, and then bond the top and bottom skins of the hood using automotive structural adhesives in a precision fixture to hold the product in the proper shape.
There are a few photos of this in the training materials available on our downloads page at the website. There is also some discussion on the hood quality issues in that material. It need to be updated but its still worth taking a look at.
I hope this helps. If any of this has helped you become a Suncoast believer, please help spread the word. You obviously have the negative side of the experience.