Steelhead Composites Winds First Recycled COPV with Vartega Fiber

Golden, CO – Steelhead Composites in partnership with Vartega and Michelman, is excited to debut the first composite overwrapped pressure vessel (COPV) manufactured from continuous recycled carbon fiber tow at the 2017 SAMPE from May 22-25 in Seattle, Washington. Representatives from Steelhead will be available for questions as well as Andrew Maxey, President of Vartega Inc., to discuss the technology on a panel.

Steelhead Composites fabricated a type 3 COPV using only recycled continuous carbon fiber tow supplied by Vartega Inc. The fiber was recycled with Vartega Inc’s proprietary process, and was sized by Michelman. This collaboration marks the first time that waste continuous tow carbon fiber towpreg has been reclaimed, recycled, and put back into the original manufacturing process. Recycled carbon fiber has been relegated to secondary products as chopped fiber or filler to date, but this important milestone sets a new precedent for the future of continuous carbon fiber tows.


This project was an excellent demonstration of both the utility of recycled carbon fiber in end-use products and the value of industry cooperation when bridging technical hurdles. Michelman and Steelhead’s expertise were invaluable, and we are excited about expanding these relationships as scale-up and optimization continue.
— Sean Kline, Vartega Inc Vice President of Engineering


The project team took this vessel from concept to reality in just a few short months. I am extremely proud of everyone involved for their hard work and diligence to bring this all together. We will now take this success and go bigger. We’re planning a scale-up of our recycling process that should allow us to wind a much larger vessel in the not-too-distant future.
— Andrew Maxey, Vartega Inc President


The recycled fiber From Vartega processed very well with the sizing from Michelman. It was handled just like any other dry fiber would be in a traditional wet winding set up, and there were no issues with fraying or splitting. This recycled fiber could have been virgin tow from the manufacturer.
— Jake Schrader, Steelhead Product Development Specialist


SAMPE Seattle is the only technical conference and exhibition exclusively dedicated to advanced materials and processes. Over 250 exhibiting companies showcase their products and solutions during this event. Furthermore, the technical conference features the latest technologies and research advancements in the industry.

Professionals from throughout the advanced materials and processes industry attend SAMPE Seattle to find new solutions, learn about the technology that will shape future projects, and engage in meaningful face-to-face networking opportunities. Plan to attend SAMPE Seattle and get inspired by new ideas, technologies, and products. 

About Steelhead Composites

Steelhead Composites is a world class advanced manufacturing company, based in the heart of Golden, Colorado (USA). Steelhead is dedicated to the design and manufacturing of specialty lightweight hydraulic components and composite pressure vessels to be used for weight-sensitive energy and fuel storage applications. Our specialties include lightweight bladder, diaphragm and piston accumulators, mobile CNG fuel storage and transport, gas bottles, aluminum liners and accessories. We also offer a full array of technical services in vessel design, metal spinforming, filament winding, prototyping and testing of high pressure vessels. For more information, visit To book an appointment, visit

Contact Steelhead Composites

Marisa Veni Sundy, Director of Business Development

Phone: +1-720-524-3360


About Vartega Inc

Vartega Inc is a recycler of advanced materials – specifically strong and lightweight carbon fiber – used in the aerospace, automotive, wind energy, and sporting goods industries. Founded in July 2014, Vartega has developed patent pending recycling technology to address the 15,000 metric tons of carbon fiber waste that is being landfilled and incinerated every year. Vartega’s technology uses a low energy chemistry-based process to free carbon fiber filaments for use in carbon fiber nonwoven fabrics, yarns, thermoplastic pellets, and 3D printing filaments. Materials utilizing Vartega’s low-cost recycled carbon fiber can be used to lightweight automobiles resulting in improved fuel economy and reduced emissions. For more information, visit

About Michelman

Michelman is a global developer and manufacturer of environmentally friendly advanced materials for industry, offering solutions for the coatings, printing & packaging and industrial manufacturing markets. The company’s surface additives and polymeric binders are used by leading manufacturers around the world to enhance performance attributes and add value in applications including wood and floor care products, metal and industrial coatings, paints, varnishes, inks, fibers and composites. Michelman is also well-known as an innovator in the development of barrier and functional coatings, as well as digital printing press primers that are used in the production of consumer and industrial packaging and paper products, labels, and commercially printed materials. Michelman serves its customers with production facilities in North America, Europe and Asia, product development and technical service centers in several major global markets, and a worldwide team of highly trained business development personnel.  For more information, visit