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Composites Industry News

News for October 2000


CFRP Strand-Prestressed Concrete Bridge Innovation

4th October 2000 0 comments

Construction Technology Laboratories, Inc. (CTL) is pleased to announce commencement of its Structural Laboratory’s full scale load test program of a Carbon Fiber Reinforced Polymer (CFRP)-reinforced prestressed concrete girder for the innovative Southfield, Michigan Bridge Street Bridge over the Rouge River. For the first time ever in the United States, the City of Southfield’s project will adapt nonmetallic CFRP prestressing reinforcement in a highway bridge structure, for direct comparison with a sister structure constructed with traditional materials. Implications of the project are far reaching, presenting the potential to permanently change the way concrete bridges are built, increasing their anticipated durability and life span. The prestressed and post-tensioned test girder was fabricated by PSI/Hollowcore Inc. of Windsor, Ontario. “Our involvement in the Bridge Street program extends CTL’s nearly ten year old initiative to help suppliers and manufacturers adopt and expand use of FRP for a variety of engineered structures, this being the most comprehensive of them all. We are really excited about this development and the broad potential for innovation that it portends for CTL’s clients and the composites community.” said Adrian Ciolko, CTL Vice President. CTL will conduct full scale laboratory load tests of the 60-ton, 70-foot long double tee girder and also monitor the span’s performance in Southfield for the purpose of helping the Bridge Street Bridge deployment team advance structural design principals for CFRP-prestressed concrete. The CFRP-prestressed girder load test program progress can be viewed on the CTL Structural Laboratory Webcam at http://www.ctlgroup.com/webcam.htm. The load test to destruction of the bridge component is presently scheduled for October 13, 2000.

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Live Boat Construction at São Paulo Boat Show

4th October 2000 0 comments

A great event will be waiting for the attendees of São Paulo Boat Show 2000. The live construction of a 16 ft powerboat! The engineering division of Barracuda Technologies, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the leading composite material supplier in Brazil, will repeat the success of the Rio Boat Show demonstration realized in April of this year. Barracuda Technologies will present this demonstration as a part of a program for the advancement of the marine industry through the dissemination of technical information on the materials and processes presently in use. As an engineering company, Barracuda Technologies has always advocated new materials that have advanced lightweight applications in the Marine Industry. The boat will be constructed during the show by Barracuda Technologies master builders using the latest techniques available in the Marine Market using advanced materials such as multiaxial, aramid, and carbon fibers, PVC foam core, in conjunction of an epoxy matrix with a slightly vanilla scent, and vacuum bagging process. The idea is to show a very professional, clean and efficient method of construction even on a small powerboat. At the end of the show, Barracuda Technologies will donate the finished hull. There are expected about 120,000 spectators during the 6 days show.

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North American Composites Announces New Sales Representative

4th October 2000 0 comments

North American Composites (NAC) has appointed Scott Starwalt as a Sales Representative. Starwalt will be headquartered at NAC’s Minneapolis branch covering eastern Minnesota and Wisconsin. Starwalt holds a degree from Golden Valley Lutheran College. Starwalt brings years of experience selling equipment and materials into the composites and cast polymer industry to NAC. NAC represents over 60 suppliers to the composites industry. We are a national distribution company focusing on “Delivering Performance” on a local level. Our representatives have a comprehensive understanding of our product lines and are fully supported by our supplier specialists.

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3TEX Releases New Products at Composites 2000 Show

4th October 2000 0 comments

3TEX, Inc. a worldwide leader in developing next generation 3D fibers and composites, introduced several new ground breaking products at the Composites 2000 tradeshow. 3TEX unveiled new prototype thick carbon and thick fiberglass components that can be used in a wide variety of commercial uses. “We are very excited about these new products and we believe they will help drive our sales efforts in the next 6-12 months,” said Brad Lienhart, 3TEX Chief Executive Officer. The new components were created to bolster the company’s efforts to establish 3TEX as a major fiber & composites developer in four key market segments: Transportation, Marine, Industrial, and Defense. Through it’s U.S. patented technology, 3TEX is developing materials six times stronger than steel and lighter than aluminum for the U.S. military, protective jackets for police forces, replacement parts for vehicles, stronger than steel sections for highway bridges, as well as a wide variety of other innovative products. “Our mission is to become the leading producer of next generation 3D fabrics and composites,” said Dr. Alexander Bogdanovich Vice President of Research, Development, and European Operations. “Our new thick carbon and fiberglass components put us steps ahead of the competition in this specific market. With our ongoing product development and extensive R&D efforts, we are shaping the future development of advanced 3D reinforced composites.” 3TEX is a world leader in designing, engineering, and developing “thick” industrial fabrics and “near net shape” composite preforms from its proprietary, high speed 3D orthogonal, multi-axial, circular weaving, braiding and weft knitting processes. 3TEX “world class” productive design and analysis technologies are helping customers define product performance and specifications for a full life cycle. 3TEX will continue to expand its technology platform to be the SINGLE SOURCE for industrial fabrics and composite preforms.

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Technology Changes Boat Building

4th October 2000 0 comments

It began as a vision — the idea of making fiberglass boats in a clean factory much faster than the traditional, labor-intensive method stuck in the 1950s. The vision prompted Irwin Jacobs and his advisers at Genmar Holdings Inc., the nation’s second-largest powerboat maker, to buy a small Pennsylvania company that had developed a computer-controlled process for making fiberglass parts. The Virtual Engineered Composites process is cleaner, stronger and cheaper than the old way, and lets Genmar make fiberglass boats much more quickly. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The chemical molding system is essentially a portable, self-contained mini-factory that can be used to make almost any molded product anywhere. It can be operated on site or remotely over the Internet. “This thing is bigger than we even thought it was,” said Jacobs, who believes VEC technology has the potential to change manufacturing worldwide. Robert Lacovara, director of technical services for the trade group Composites Fabricators Association, agrees. “In the composites industry, it’s very unique,” Lacovara said. Closed-mold systems previously have been limited to making smaller electronic and automotive parts, he said. Genmar began regular production of Larson and Glastron pleasure boats in August at a new $20 million factory in Little Falls, the world’s first automated boat plant. It intends to expand the VEC technology to other Genmar plants that make smaller pleasure boats, and eventually to license it to other manufacturers. “Now we believe our technology is worth even more than our boat company,” said Jacobs, who made a name for himself during the 1980s as a corporate raider. “Our biggest challenge from here is who will be the partner or partners in taking VEC outside of the marine industry.” The new and old Genmar plants stand side-by-side in Little Falls, and show vividly the differences in manufacturing techniques. At the old 400,000-square-foot factory, the stench of styrene hangs in the air as the open-mold process is carried out. Workers wear waterproof boots, coveralls and face masks while swabbing sheets of fiberglass inside the molds and use power sprayers to apply resin. Heavy steel piping supports the fiberglass during its 12-hour curing process. After that, the boat hulls and decks are moved to another area, where workers use hand-held power tools to grind and sand the fiberglass to shape. At the new plant, about a quarter the size, banks of computers control most aspects of VEC production. To make the hulls and decks, two composite skins are placed over a polyester mold and hardened through a thermochemical reaction. The mold is then closed and filled with pressurized water that holds the skins together. Computers regulate the mixture and make adjustments for more than 800 variables, including temperature and humidity. Areas that undergo heavy stress are strengthened with computerized precision. The process is monitored by computer from the Pyramid Operating Systems Inc. facility in Greenville, Pa., where Gene Kirila and Bob McCollum developed the basic technology that Genmar refined after buying the company in 1998. The boats are removed from the closed molds after only 40 minutes and require only a few minutes of curing. The small amount of trimming necessary is done by a robotic fiberglass cutter that can trim 55 feet per minute. “The old process needed 40 molds to make 40 boats in a day,” said Jeffrey Olson, president of Larson-Glastron. With the new process, he said, each mold can be refilled every 40 minutes. The process also eliminates more than 70 percent of the styrene emissions, Olson said. The new facility will slowly be brought up to full production of 10,000 boats per year over 18 months.

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Denali Announces Late Filing of Its Form 10-K

4th October 2000 0 comments

Denali Incorporated today announced that it filed a Form 12b-25 with the Securities and exchange Commission which is notification of the Company’s late filing of Form 10-K for the year ended July 1, 2000. As disclosed in the Form 10-Q for Denali Incorporated (the”Company”) for the quarter ended April 1, 2000, the Company is engaged in negotiations with a private equity fund whereby the fund proposes to invest in excess of $20 million in the Company. Due to the Company’s recent operating losses and significntly decreased cash flow from operations, the Company’s liquidity has reached extremely low levels. Management believes that the investment by the private equity fund, if completed, will resolve the Company’s liquidity problems. Denali Incorporated is a global provider of fluid handling products specializing in corrosion-resistant applications in process industries such as: chemical, power, pulp and paper, petroleum equipment, and water/wastewater. The Company manufactures engineered fiberglass-composite tanks, vessels and piping systems, as well as steel, aboveground storage tanks. The Company also distributes a wide range of engineered products and systems. Headquartered in Houston, Denali Incorporated has over 20 manufacturing facilities in the United States, the Netherlands, Germany, the United Kingdom, Poland, France and Chile and joint ventures in Venezuela and Thailand. For more information on the Company, please visit its Web site at

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Nordstjernan invests in 21% stake in Exel Oyj

4th October 2000 0 comments

The Swedish investment company Nordstjernan AB has invested SEK94m in a 21% stake in the Finnish composite products manufacturer Exel Oy, becoming Exel’s largest shareholder. Exel manufactures composites based products for industry (GSM and UMTS base station antennas) and the sports sector (ski and walking poles, floor hockey sticks). It has 300 employees and annual sales of EUR42m

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NASA: Marshall tests membranes for future space structures

4th October 2000 0 comments

Engineers at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., have completed tests on an experimental lightweight, inflatable structure that one day might lead to optical, solar power or propulsion uses in space. Engineers Bob Engberg, left, and John Lassiter examine the structure, supported by a test stand. A similar structure has potential applications as a communications antenna, a solar energy collector, a concentrator for a solar-powered rocket engine, or a telescope mirror. Compact, thin-walled membranes hold the promise of being used for very large structures in the weightlessness of space. They would weigh a fraction of traditional metal and composite structures and, when deflated, could be packed into a much smaller volume – making them much cheaper to launch. The gold, 21-foot (6.4-meter) inflatable ring and its silver, 16.4-foot (5-meter) inflatable reflector — manufactured by SRS Technologies of Huntsville — weigh less than 8 pounds (3.6 kilograms). The super-light plastic membrane is one-third as thick as a sheet of paper. The tests at the Marshall Center were aimed at developing reliable methods of testing ultra-light structures. The month-long series of vibration tests is being followed with more tests of the structure at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. Marshall and Langley engineers are jointly funded by NASA’s Cross Enterprise Technology Development Program to collaboratively advance this technology. This is the sixth inflatable structure tested by Marshall in an effort to test, model, analyze and develop applications for thin film structures.

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NASA Plans To Finish X-33

4th October 2000 0 comments

NASA and contractor Lockheed Martin have announced a plan to complete the controversial X-33 spacecraft, an experimental vehicle intended to demonstrate technologies that might be used in a replacement for the space shuttle. Already over budget and behind schedule, the X-33 ran into serious trouble in late 1999 when one of its liquid hydrogen fuel tanks failed during a test. The new plan calls for replacing the original hydrogen tanks, which were made of a lightweight layered composite material, with more conventional aluminum tanks. “The aluminum tank design still permits us to realize our near-term vision of demonstrating the technologies for a reusable, single-stage next-generation launch vehicle,” X-33 program manager Gene Austin said. The redesigned spacecraft is scheduled to fly in 2003, but that will happen only if Lockheed Martin wins additional NASA funding beyond the $912 million that the space agency has already committed to the project. Lockheed Martin has spent $300 million on the project and is committed to spending $56 million more through March. Critics complain that NASA is investing too much in a high-technology “space plane” when a simpler design would be cheaper and more reliable. “They’re sticking with a dumb design,” said Charles Lurio, an aerospace consultant based in Brookline, Mass. “It’s a road to nowhere.”

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US NSF recommends funding for partnerships

4th October 2000 0 comments

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has recommended awards for 24 projects in communities around the country to help translate knowledge gained from basic research into new products, businesses and services, as well as to provide workforce education and training opportunities focused on innovation. The recommended Partnerships For Innovation (PFI) awards cover projects in 20 states and Puerto Rico, total more than $14 million, each averaging about $600,000 over two or three years. The PFI program, new this year, helps build creative interactions in local communities between colleges and universities, government agencies, foundations and private corporations. Each partnership is tailored to help a specific community better position itself to accommodate research and development at the local and regional level, with the goal of advancing local economic and educational opportunities. One project in particular focusses on innovation in advanced composite materials for highways.

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