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Composites Industry News

News for July 2001


C2 Delivers for Concorde Refurbishment

13th July 2001 0 comments

C2 completed on time delivery of the last batch of 800 carbon fibre magazine pockets for the refurbishment of BA’s Concorde fleet. These magazine pockets are a carbon fibre foam-sandwich construction made of fire resistant materials. They were bladder moulded using a single cavity metal mould tool. Using a fast cure cycle these parts could be made at a rate of 10 parts a day. This was part of the weight saving exercise undertaken during the extensive refurbishment of Concorde. So successful has been this technology that Britax Contour have placed four further contracts with C2 composites for other aircraft interior parts. C2 Composites is a specialist manufacturer of carbon fibre composite structures. They make precision items using compression moulding, bladder moulding, composite insert moulding, tape wrapping and winding technologies.

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European Alliance for SMC

13th July 2001 0 comments

The European Alliance for SMC has a new internet address to allow visitors to access their web site by using the real name of the alliance. For your convenience you can also use smcalliance.com or even the old address smc-forum.de

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3TEX Sponsored Speed Boat Wins Its Class in New York Race

13th July 2001 0 comments

The PAY 2 PLAY racing boat won the 80+ mph class at the recent New York State POKER RUN race. The 45 foot SONIC USA boat, which is sponsored by both 3TEX and SONIC USA, was built using 3TEX’s patented 3WEAVE preforms. PAY 2 PLAY also won the “”Best Looking Boat”” award at the race. The recently designed boat, known as PAY 2 PLAY, is owned by Byron Unger – a world class racer who resides in Apex, North Carolina. In a special promotional venture between 3TEX, SONIC USA and Mr. Unger, PAY 2 PLAY will compete in a dozen individual POKER RUN RACES this Summer from Canada to Southern Florida. “”We are thrilled with our relationship with SONIC USA and world-class racer Byron Unger and we look forward to the other upcoming races,”” said Brad Lienhart, CEO of 3TEX. “”SONIC USA is a leader in this industry and 3TEX is proud to be sponsoring one of their boats.”” Located in Hollywood, Florida, SONIC USA is recognized as a premier builder of individualized performance powerboats. Through a long-term strategic partnership, SONIC USA expects to annually produce more than 200 premier 26-45 foot class boats using 3TEX composite products. Through the use of 3WEAVE preforms and a vacuum infusion process, 3TEX believes boat hull weight can be reduced by up to 20-30%, while improving overall durability and impact resistance.

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‘Flying wing’ tested for satellite-like uses

13th July 2001 0 comments

To reach the doorstep of space, engineers designed planes like the X-15, a rocket-powered aircraft that during the 1960s carried a hardy breed of test pilots to the atmosphere’s edge and back at up to seven times the speed of sound. This month, another crew hopes to reach similar heights. But it plans to do it at a stately 25 miles an hour with a craft that might make X-15 jockeys shake their heads in wonder. Called the Helios Prototype, the craft is a flying wing whose tip-to-tip reach of more than 240 feet outspans the wings of an Air Force C-5 cargo jet. Built with carbon-fiber composites, Styrofoam, mountain-bike tires, plastic sheeting, and topped with solar cells to convert sunlight into electricity, the wing tips the scales at about 1,600 pounds. It is powered by 14 electric motors, each packing all the punch of a hand-held hair drier. The remotely piloted Helios is scheduled for a shakedown flight tomorrow from a US Navy test range in Hawaii. Later this month, if all goes well, the crew will attempt to take the craft to 100,000 feet, shattering altitude records for propeller-driven planes and setting the stage for developing a fleet of aircraft that can fly for months at altitudes of 80,000 feet or higher. “”We call it the eternal airplane,”” quips Pete Jacobs, a spokesman for the project. Helios is a Goliath among unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which range in size from Helios’s 247-foot span to experimental craft with wingspans of six inches. The field has grown during the past two decades, largely driven in the US by demands from the Pentagon for safer ways to conduct battlefield reconnaissance, says Robert Michelson, an adjunct professor of aerospace engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, and past president of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. Yet while hundreds of companies build UAVs, most “”build only one or two of a kind and never sell them,”” he notes. Helios’s designers say they hope to change that picture. The $15 million craft represents a joint effort by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and AeroVironment, Inc., a Monrovia, Calif., company that has been developing solar-powered aircraft since the 1970s. Both foresee craft like Helios emerging as cheap alternatives to satellites for a range of applications. NASA’s interest lies in the potential for such aircraft to be platforms for a range of earth- and atmospheric-science experiments, notes John Hicks, a NASA project manager for environmental-research craft. “”Its big value is that it can do remote sensing and imaging in a continuous fashion, versus a satellite, which might make one pass every 90 minutes,”” he says. Moreover, the craft can monitor and sample atmospheric chemicals, such as stratospheric ozone, without leaving a trail of pollutants in its wake. Such samples now must be taken by jets like NASA’s human-piloted ER-2, a converted U-2 spy plane. He also notes that at 100,000 feet, the Earth’s atmosphere has a density close to that of Mars, making that altitude region a perfect place to gather data on flight characteristics that could lead to tiny remotely piloted aircraft being added to future Mars missions. For its part, AeroVironment hopes to see Helios emerge as a key telecommunications link, as well as a remote-sensing tool to help monitor everything from crop-ripeness to forest-fire hot spots. “”The first application we’re pursuing is high-speed Internet access,”” says Tim Conver, AeroVironment’s president and CEO. He explains that while the Internet’s fiber-optic links “”hold massive amounts of bandwidth potential,”” most users can’t take advantage of that because they connect to the Web using copper wire, which can’t carry as much data. He envisions a fleet of Helios-type aircraft acting as “”11-mile high towers,”” linking users to the Web in a manner similar to satellite TV. The key to the craft’s endurance is a system – still under development – of fuel cells that convert hydrogen and oxygen into electricity and water. Mr. Hicks explains that during the day, the solar cells produce more than enough electricity to run the craft’s motors. The excess is used to break down about seven gallons of water into oxygen and hydrogen. At night, the process reverses. The fuel cells use the oxygen and hydrogen to generate electricity and water. The Helios team hopes to add the fuel-cell system after this set of flights and set a high-altitude endurance record in 2003.

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Porvair Fuel Cell Technology Wins $6.1 Million for Fuel Cell Research

13th July 2001 0 comments

Porvair Fuel Cell Technology, a subsidiary of U.K.-based advanced materials group Porvair plc, will receive $6.1 million for fuel cell research. The multi-million dollar, cost-shared contract will be used over a three year period to improve bipolar plate technology that will help to make fuel cell commercialization a reality. Specifically, Porvair was selected by the US Department of Energy (DOE) to develop carbon/carbon composite bipolar plates for PEM fuel cells. The company will also address the development of high-volume production methods for the composite bipolar plates. Jim Stike, president of PFCT, said the new funding would be available later in the year and would allow PFCT to hire more resources, build necessary facilities and buy equipment that will allow the company to manufacture components for the fuel cell industry. Porvair Fuel Cell Technology is a progressive corporation pioneering the manufacturing of advanced materials and components used in fuel cell technology.

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Taiwan IC approves glass fibre venture

13th July 2001 0 comments

The Investment Commission said it has approved 29 outbound and inbound investment applications, including 21 China-bound ventures for a combined 187.35 mln usd. It approved Taiwan Glass Industry Corp’s application to remit 35 mln usd for setting up a glass fibre venture on the mainland and use 5.88 mln usd in its overseas deposits for a further capital injection to its Qingdao unit, the commission said in a statement.

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British Airways tests Concorde at Heathrow Airport

13th July 2001 0 comments

British Airways conducted ground tests of a Concorde aircraft at Heathrow Airport, London on 4 July. The hour-long trial tested systems such as steering, braking and navigational computers as well as tyres as the aircraft made a full circuit of Heathrow. The aircraft used in the trial was the first of British Airways’ seven Concorde jets to be fitted with new fuel tank liners made of rubber and Kevlar. All Concorde aircraft have been grounded since the 25 July 2000 crash of an Air France Concorde near Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris. British Airways hopes to resume Concorde flights by late summer.

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Formica Corporation Enters into Discussions with Bank Syndicate

13th July 2001 0 comments

Formica Corporation has entered into discussions with its bank syndicate concerning an amendment for non-compliance with certain financial covenants for the quarter ended June 30, 2001 under its $345 million bank credit facility. The slowdown, which began in North America in the fourth quarter of 2000, has since spread to the Company’s international markets in Europe and Asia. In addition to lower sales volumes, earnings have been negatively impacted by higher energy and transportation costs, along with a stronger U.S. dollar. This has been partially offset by a stringent cost control program put in place, along with savings from the reorganization following last year’s acquisition of Perstorp Surface Materials AB. The Company has adequate liquidity based on cash on hand to finance operations and to fully complete its rationalization program and grow its revenue base. Formica Corporation, whose owners include Credit Suisse First Boston Private Equity, Citicorp Venture Capital, Ltd. and CVC Capital Partners Limited, was founded in 1913, and is a prominent worldwide manufacturer and marketer of decorative surfacing materials, including high pressure laminate, foils, printed papers, Surell(R) and Fountainhead(R) solid surfacing materials and laminate flooring.

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A&T Center Shares Lab Work at a Distance

13th July 2001 0 comments

The accurate portrayal of laboratory work is a challenge to educators using distance education technology. A new grant will help a laboratory at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University overcome that challenge. Using a $129,754 supplemental grant from the Office of Naval Research, the Center for Composite Materials Research at North Carolina A&T State University will expand a research project examining the performance of composite materials and the methods used to monitor the structural health of those materials.In the expansion, faculty will develop a digital processing laboratory which will enable students and others away from A&T’s campus to see manufacturing and research demonstrations via the Web and other media. “We’re committed to expanding learning opportunities to all students, regardless of their location,” said Dr. Kunigal Shivakumar, interim director of the A&T Center. “Furthermore, our relationships with private companies and community colleges necessitate that we find efficient means of sharing knowledge. This project will help us in that endeavor.”Recently, A&T has formed relationships with 3TEX, a Cary-based company that uses an A&T manufacturing technology, and Isothermal Community College, located in Spindale, to conduct training in composite materials. The Center for Composite Materials Research includes three laboratories with a combined area of 7,240 square feet. Eight faculty and nine students participate in its activities.For more information, please contact Dr. Kunigal Shivakumar, NC A&T State University, (336) 334-7411, ext. 2112.

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Phoenixx TPC Introduces New Low Cost Thermoplastic Composite Prepreg

19th July 2001 0 comments

Phoenixx TPC has introduced a new lower cost line of Polyetherimide (Ultem) composite prepreg tape based on a new proprietary and patented prepreg process. The new PEI/Ultem prepreg process yields a significantly lower cost of manufacture than previous solvenated type systems and ground Ultem powder type systems. Additionally, the new process does not use environmentally unfriendly solvents or plasticizers that can create problems and add costs in manufacturing the prepreg tape as well as cause problems with trapped VOC’s during molding or processing the thermoplastic prepreg. The new process is amenable to manufacturing prepreg using any number of reinforcing fibers and can be used with both Ultem 1000 and the newer Ultem 5000 resin systems. Phoenixx anticipates that it can now price Ultem prepreg less than $30.00/lb ($66.00/kg) using commercial grade carbon fibers. Ultem prepreg prices based on military/aerospace grade carbon fibers would be somewhat higher and prices based on glass fibers would be somewhat lower. Commenting on the new prepreg tape, David Park, President of Phoenixx TPC, stated, “”This is a very important breakthrough in the development of lower cost thermoplastic prepregs utilizing PEI (Ultem) resins. It will enable us to respond to the numerous requests we have received from the oil & gas, automotive, aerospace, and military/defense industries, among others, for lower cost Ultem based prepregs.”” Mr. Park further stated, “”This process is very robust and can use a wide variety of reinforcing fibers. It also has the potential to produce thermoplastic composite sheet molding compounds from precursors such as glass or carbon mat.”” The lower cost of the new prepreg tapes can help to greatly expand the use of Ultem resins in thermoplastic composite applications. Combining the excellent mechanical properties and superior high temperature capability of Ultem resin with the lower cost prepreg process should greatly expand the possible market applications for these materials. Ultem is a registered trademark of the General Electric Company

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