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2008 JEC Innovation Awards Programme Winners

  • Monday, 18th February 2008
  • Reading time: about 10 minutes

The JEC Group’s 2008 Innovation Awards Programme will reward eight companies and their partners on April 1st, 2008, during a special evening at the Louvre Museum.

This year’s categories are Aeronautics & Space, Ground Transport & Automotive, Construction & Equipment, Energy & Industry, Environment, Process, Sports & Leisure, and Software.

Based on criteria for technical significance, marketing potential, originality, financial impact, and partnership complementarity, a jury of 15 international experts chose processes, applications and products that most successfully implemented a composite solution.

The 2008 winners are:

Category: AERONAUTICS & SPACE (4 entries short-listed)

Resin-infused wing control surfaces for the Boeing 787, presented by Hawker de Havilland Aerospace Pty Ltd (AU), in partnership with Boeing Commercial Airplanes (USA), Boeing Phantom Works (USA), Spunfab Ltd (USA), Hexcel Reinforcements and Direct Processes Europe (FR).

This is the first time that this type of infusion process has been used on a commercial aircraft at such a large scale. All of the parts have been redesigned to suit the chosen technique. New materials had to be developed, including medium-weight carbon fabrics using 12K fibre.

The project covered North America, Australia, and Europe. It demonstrated that the choice of the Controlled Atmospheric Resin Infusion (CAPRI) process was a valid alternative to autoclave, eliminating the high pressure and temperatures previously required and reducing environmental impacts. The solution also allows the manufacture of complex, easy-to-repair parts, and easier management of raw materials in terms of handling and storage at ambient temperatures.

Industrializing the CAPRI process took thirty months. The materials were approved in July 2006, and production of the first parts began in December 2006. The first set of assembled structures was delivered in June 2007 for the roll-out of the first 787. The certification process is ongoing and should be completed by the first flight in 2008.

The process is designed for all of Boeing’s future aircraft programmes and derivatives.

Category: GROUND TRANSPORT & AUTOMOTIVE (4 entries short-listed)

Tailgate assembly for the new Smart models developed by Esoro (Switzerland) with Weber Fibertech (DE), Smart GmbH (DE), ACTS GmbH & Co KG (DE) and Dieffenbacher GmbH (DE). The first industrial application for E-LFT (Endless-fibre-reinforced Long-Fibre Thermoplastic) technology, a one-shot mass-production process for structural parts. The continuous fibres provide excellent mechanical properties and can be placed along the load paths.

The assembly consists of a tailgate with a storage compartment and a hinged cover with visibly grained surface. Both parts had to meet crashworthiness requirements.

Compared to the previous solution, the parts meet higher rigidity and crash-resistance requirements, at 10% lower cost. Functional integration provides higher strength and additional storage area. The concept, which allows for great design freedom, uses low-cost materials (PP/glass fibre), but offers high crash resistance and lower weight compared to a metal solution.

Category: CONSTRUCTION & EQUIPMENT (3 entries short-listed)

Fire-insulation panels along with a full assembly and mounting system, developed by Ayres Composite Panels (AU) in partnership with Colbeck & Gunton (AU) and Thermal Ceramics (UK). The focus was on the fire-insulation properties, and therefore on panel design: aluminium honeycomb with glass/epoxy skins, with one side covered with a layer of special intumescent insulating felt, itself protected by a sheet of glass fabric to provide an attractive surface finish.

patented panels are certified to International Maritime Organisation High Speed Craft Code requirements. The panels are mass-produced using a hot-press moulding process. They were developed along with the entire system for assembling them and the mountings required for integrating equipment like sensors, sprinklers, valve systems and extinguishers.

The system was developed for the boating industry, although the materials would be suitable for use in public ground transport or the building industry. It is lightweight at 4 kg/m². On a standard-sized boat, the savings can be as much as 12 metric tons, with positive effects on boat performance.

The fire protection provided also helps to keep the boat afloat in case of fire and gives more time to evacuate. The panels cost more than standard ones, but their large size facilitates installation and reduces installation time by one-third, which helps to level the price difference.

Category: ENERGY & INDUSTRY (2 entries short-listed)

High-field superconducting magnet for supercollider applications, presented by AGY (USA) with their partners A&P Technology (USA) and Accelerator Technology Corporation (USA).

The magnets consist of metal or ceramic superconductor coil windings made of very fine filaments. The required electrical insulation between the filaments is provided by glass filaments. In the case at hand, the superconductor is a ceramic and the glass filaments must be very thin.

The glass fibre used must meet the mechanical criteria and also withstand the entire coil manufacturing process, which includes a heat cycle. The filaments used are only 5 µm in diameter, so as to take up as little space as possible in the coil. A special non-heat-degradable sizing was used, with the right friction properties for processing and capable of withstanding temperature peaks during operation in case of unexpected quench failure. This required electric-insulating and heat-conducting properties.

A 5-µm-thick S-2 fibre was used with a high-temperature-resistant thermoplastic coating, a technology borrowed from the aerospace industry. It was necessary to adapt the braiding specifically to the requirement for electrical insulation by completely covering the ceramic superconductor. The assembly is held together with epoxy resin.

The filament and sizing have been developed and the material is available in quantity. This initial development phase was completed in response to a request from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) concerning the magnets for the future supercollider.

The scope of the application goes beyond this basic research need, however, encompassing magnetic resonance imaging (RMI) for medical purposes or the storage of electricity.

Category: ENVIRONMENT (2 entries short-listed)

Basic moulding process using local agro-resources and minerals combined with a thermoset resin, developed by Agro-Resources Technologies (IN) with Sumangali Seva Ashrama (IN) and villagers and local people using this technological solution.

In India, a good part of the population is rural and constitutes an abundant source of inexpensive labour. Crops there generate considerable amounts of plant waste that, thus far, have been left unutilized. This gave the idea to use these two resources to manufacture objects using simple composite process and tooling to mould plant-fibre reinforcement and mineral fillers mixed with resin. Rather than taking place in a single large production unit, this is done by small, scattered units of three to four people. This very simple process uses a thermoset resin and simple moulds. The idea is to be able to make 10 to 20 objects per mould and per day, as a function of the part complexity. A finishing layer is provided for in order to produce smooth, sturdy, and waterproof surfaces. The objects made are small pieces of furniture, panels, construction elements, dishes, or even small boats.

This programme creates jobs and income in rural areas, eliminating the need for populations to migrate. It uses local resources and solar polymerization, so it requires very little electric power. The use of agro-resources is a way to be included in the global carbon credit trading system.

Category: PROCESS (3 entries short-listed)

Electrically-heated carbon-fibre mould, presented by the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Dortmund (DE) in partnership with Fibretech Composites (DE), Yachtwerft Meyer GmbH (DE) and R&G Faserverbundwerkstoffe (DE).

This carbon-composite mould takes advantage of the electric conductivity of carbon fibre to combine the mechanical-resistance and heating functions. The original feature lies in the arrangement of the carbon fibres: while only the fibres in one direction receive electrical power, the perpendicular fibres also conduct electricity. The mould consists of a honeycomb sandwich with two quasi-isotropic skins, each made up of two carbon layers.

The mould retains high mechanical and dimensional stability during the thermal cycle, ensuring high dimensional accuracy of the parts manufactured. It is lightweight and cost effective. It allows energy savings and lower manufacturing costs.

The mould is intended for the production of large parts (wind turbine blades, ship hulls, etc.) and for short- to medium-run production. It can be manufactured using prepregs or standard resin/reinforcement processes. The University of Dortmund has established a licensing system to transfer the know-how. It also supplies complete production systems.

Category: SPORTS & LEISURE (3 entries short-listed)

2008 version of the WaveRunner SHO and HO personal watercraft using the lightweight NanoXcel composite material, presented by Yamaha Watercraft Group (USA) in collaboration with Yamaha Motor Manufacturing Corp (USA) and Interplastic Corporation (USA).

In this application, standard SMC materials are replaced with NanoXcel material, a new generation of low-density SMC. The new material is processed using the existing equipment and a slightly modified SMC technology. The parts concerned are the hull, deck and liner.

NanoXcel uses expanded nanoclay materials to replace calcium carbonate in a composite material with a urethane hybrid matrix. The new material constitutes a significant advance, since the other weight-saving solutions considered did not offer the required durability and strength.

The new formulation has an improved moulding flow capability, thus improving surface finish, reducing defects in the painted parts, and minimizing subsequent rework. The final parts offer improved surface finish, 25% weight saving and increased strength. The weight saving contributes to a better-performing craft, with faster speed and acceleration, and lower fuel consumption.

Category: SOFTWARE (4 entries short-listed)

Precimould tool design software, presented by Advanced Composites Group (UK) and its partners FEA (UK) Ltd., BAE Systems Plc (UK) and Bombardier Aerospace (UK).

Precimould makes it possible to design the shape of tool surface required to produce a finished part as close as possible to the required size and shape. This software tool is used within the Lusas finite element code. It was designed so that an experienced CAD operator can quickly learn how to use Precimould without an extensive background in finite element analysis.

The software tool reduces processing distortions that cause part inaccuracies or non-compliances resulting in poor fits during assembly.

The development stage took several years. The first step consisted in understanding the part distortion process and identifying the parameters involved. The subsequent software design process included an extensive study of material properties and behaviours. Finally, the software was validated by comparing modelling data with experimental measurements.

The product is being launched in three areas: sale of licenses to composite tool and part designers, use of the tool within ACG and FEA for consultancy work, and use by ACG to produce optimized tools for their customers.

Special mention from the JEC Composites Magazine

The first light aircraft made in France by infusion moulding, and the first one-piece, self-stiffened carbon/epoxy fuselage for a light aircraft.

The Brest institute of technology (IUT) sent in an application in the Aerospace category. The decision to give prominence to this project was based on its atypical nature (originating from an educational institution rather than a business company) and various noteworthy aspects.

The partners were Gazechim (FR), The University of Nantes (FR), HDS Structures (FR), Composites Distribution (FR), Axson (FR), Structil (FR), Rex Composites (FR) and Oseo (FR).

The project was designed as an educational one, to allow students to come into contact with industrial realities. More than 70 students have already worked on the project, helping to transfer knowledge about composites into the industrial environment.

Industrial firms have given a token of confidence by participating in the project financing in exchange for the technological know-how. The fact that technology is being transferred to the firms is an indication of the reliability of the work carried out.

The 2008 Innovation Awards competition is supported actively by Umeco Composites, Official Partner, as well as several Gold Sponsors: Huntsman Advanced Materials (Aerospace category), Nanoledge (Sports & Leisure), and Silver Sponsors: Cytec (Aerospace), Roctool (Process), SGL Carbon (Energy & Industry) and Polynt (Automotive).

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