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Composites Industry News

News for October 2001


Supercomputer Simulations Reveal Strongest Carbon Nanotubes

1st October 2001 0 comments

A team of researchers lead by Vincent Crespi, the Downsborough Associate Professor of Physics at Penn State University, has used computer simulations to discover carbon fibers with mechanical strength comparable to that of diamond. In a paper published in Physical Review Letters, Crespi, graduate student Dragan Stojkovic, and recent Ph.D. graduate Peihong Zhang report that they discovered incredibly strong and stiff carbon tubes about 0.4 nanometers in diameter. The so-called nanotubes could theoretically be made from simple starting materials. “”This new fiber hasn’t been synthesized yet,”” said Crespi, “”but several physicists and chemists are interested in making them, and they may prove very useful in nanotechnology applications.”” Using supercomputers at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC), the University of Michigan, and the University of Texas, Crespi’s team simulated the electronic states and total energies of various carbon molecules. This computationally intensive approach to chemistry research at colleges and universities has been made possible with supercomputers provided by the National Science Foundation under its National Partnership for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (NPACI). SDSC, which is on the campus of the University of California, San Diego, is the leading-edge site for NPACI. The nanotube discovery by Crespi’s team was made serendipitously while its members were studying unrelated features of carbon compounds. “”This is one of those sideways inspirations that comes when you’re looking at one thing and you suddenly realize it has a different application,”” said Crespi. He immediately adjusted the focus of his simulations. “”Actually, I was motivated to make this strong nanotube the moment I realized it could be done.”” Carbon nanotubes are 10,000 times thinner than commercial carbon fiber. Researchers make them using chemical vapor deposition, a standardized industrial technology in which simple ingredients self assemble. Crespi said vapor deposition also would most likely be used to make the much stronger version of nanotube that his group discovered. Not all nanotubes have the same properties. The smallest diameter nanotubes created to date have a circumference of about 10 carbon atoms. These tubes are not stable and must be grown within larger-diameter carbon tubes or in tiny cylindrical holes in special crystals known as zeolites. The Penn State team recently made a key discovery that a particular type of tetrahedral carbon atom — one with three weakly bonded groups and a relatively tightly bonded group — had special properties. When connected to one another, these molecules have carbon-carbon bonding angles of about 109.5 degrees, which also is the ideal bonding angle of carbon atoms with tetrahedral symmetry. In addition, the stiff, small-diameter, and chemically stable carbon nanotube discovered by the researchers has a circumference of only six carbon atoms, or about 0.4 nanometers — the smallest diameter theoretically possible. “”Based on our calculations, these new nanotubes are about 40 percent stronger than the other nanotubes formed using the same number of atoms,”” said Crespi. “”In fact, the nanotubes we simulated may well be the stiffest one-dimensional systems possible.””

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EMS Technologies Completes Deliveries of Space Station Antennas

1st October 2001 0 comments

space-to-ground antenna, capable of data rates of up to 75 Mbps, is used for all high data-rate transmissions and receptions to the International Space Station (ISS). Using sophisticated materials (titanium, carbon fiber and kevlar), the gimbaled Ku-band antenna automatically tracks NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System. Its functionality complements the gimbaled S-band antennas, a criticality-1 system used for low data-rate telecommunications, telemetry & command (TT&C). Two S-band antennas and one Ku-band antenna have already been launched, delivered and installed on board the International Space Station, ensuring complete bi-directional space-to-ground-to-space communications coverage. This delivery is the final shipment of communications antennas for the ISS. A total of three S-band (two on-orbit and one ground spare) and three Ku- band antennas (one on-orbit and two ground spares) have now been delivered from EMS Technologies’ Space & Technology Group in Montreal.

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Aurora West Virginia Awarded Global Hawk Contract

1st October 2001 0 comments

Aurora West Virginia, based at Harrison County’s Benedum Airport, has been selected by Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems to supply parts for the military’s Global Hawk unmanned air vehicle (UAV). “”This is another success story for Aurora West Virginia and for the high- technology manufacturing industry in North Central West Virginia. The work of the region’s aerospace sector continues to be recognized with contracts important to the development of cutting-edge vehicles and technologies for the U.S. Armed Forces,”” Byrd said. The RQ-4A Global Hawk UAV is a next-generation airborne reconnaissance system being developed by Northrop Grumman for the U.S. Air Force. Aurora is a high-technology company involved in UAV design and development, manufacturing, and flight controls. It operates facilities in Manassas, Va., and in Harrison County. “”West Virginia high-tech workers continue to help the American military maintain its strategic and technological dominance. Their efforts for the Global Hawk aircraft and for other military vehicles are vitally important to our national security,”” the Senator explained. The contract from Northrop Grumman calls for Aurora to build the composite parts for the vehicle’s 44-foot-long fuselage. Aurora has previously supplied the vertical tail surfaces for all seven Global Hawks built to date. “”This was a competitive procurement with intense competition,”” said Dr. John S. Langford, Aurora’s President and CEO. “”We are delighted that Aurora was selected to provide five out of five work packages put out for bid. Global Hawk is an important national defense program with a solid long-term future. Participation in this program is one of Aurora’s strategic priorities.”” To prepare for the Global Hawk UAV contract, Aurora has made several improvements to its Harrison County facility, where the work will be done. “”This program will expand our composites work considerably,”” said Langford. “”We are counting on the training programs provided by the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing (RCBI) to train the new staff that will be hired to support this contract.”” RCBI, located in Huntington, Charleston, Rocket Center, and Bridgeport, provides workforce development and training programs that are designed and customized to meet the needs and demands of manufacturers. Aurora anticipates that a dozen new employees will be hired to perform work on the Global Hawk UAV contract.

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Next-Generation Boat

1st October 2001 0 comments

3TEX, Inc has partnered with the Savannah College of Art and Design to create a futuristic 21-foot family sport boat. The SCAD boat will be on display this Fall at the Composites Fabricators Association (CFA) show and will also be entered in the Awards for Composites Excellence (ACE) Competition. The CFA show, which is being held October 3-6, 2001 in Tampa, FL, is one of the largest all-composites exhibitions in North America. The ACE Competition recognizes company achievements that are bringing the composites industry to the forefront. The team is comprised of undergraduate and graduate students taking SCAD’s Marine Design and Boat Design/Prototyping classes. Using 3TEX’s patented 3WEAVE(TM), the SCAD team designed a next-generation boat for a family of four that enjoys a variety of boating activities, from fishing, to water-skiing to entertaining. The team, under the direction of product design professor Tom Gattis, used 3TEX’s innovative materials to move beyond current design trends in boating and create an aesthetically pleasing product. The SCAD team constructed their designed boat with the help of 3TEX and other project partners, such as Intermarine Savannah, Stingray Powerboats and Raymarine On Board. 3TEX’s patented 3WEAVE(TM) makes the boat have a lighter, stiffer, and stronger structure, which enables the boat to move safer at faster speeds. The SCAD team used composites to construct the boat to prevent rusting and rotting from occurring, therefore, keeping the boat at a low maintenance level. “”The Savannah College of Art and Design is one of the leading design institutions in the country,”” said Brad Lienhart, CEO of 3TEX. “”The team’s creative expertise in design is evident with their innovative boat. We look forward to working with the school’s faculty in the future and seeing this exciting boat at the CFA show in Tampa.””

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SME Honors Composites Industry Leader as 2001 Fellow

1st October 2001 0 comments

The Society of Manufacturing Engineers announced the installation of seven members as SME Fellows, including one for outstanding contributions to composites manufacturing. Hsu-Pin (Ben) Wang, Ph.D., holds a Simon Ostrach Professorship and is chairman of the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering at Florida A&M-Florida State (FAMU-FSU) College of Engineering in Tallahassee, Fla. His research on affordable composites is already changing products worldwide. In his efforts to substitute metal structures with lower-cost, higher-performance composite materials, he utilizes an integrated product- process design approach. As a university professor and department head, Wang has developed a new doctoral program in industrial engineering, a Master of Science degree in industrial engineering and two non-thesis masters programs in engineering management and global manufacturing leadership. He also has developed and directed the Integrated Manufacturing Systems Laboratory at the Florida Advanced Center for Composite Technologies. Wang holds four U.S. patents and has co-authored three books. “”He has contributed not only to the science and theory of manufacturing, but he has also contributed to manufacturing practice, professional development, management and leadership of the profession,”” said Richard A. Wysk, Ph. D., Leonhard Chair in Engineering, Penn State University, and SME Fellow. “”He has accomplished more than several dozen very productive people normally accomplish in an entire lifetime.”” Since joining SME in 1983, Wang founded SUNY-Buffalo SME Student Chapter S194 and became its first faculty advisor. He has also served on the Executive Committee of the SME Buffalo-Niagara Frontier Chapter No. 10 and the SME Chapter 10 Student Fellowship Review Committee. In 1990, Wang received the Society’s Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer award.

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Pultronex Corporation Reorganizes of Management

1st October 2001 0 comments

Gary Loblick, president of Pultronex Corporation, has left the company to pursue other business opportunities. Kuldip (Kelly) Delhon will assume the dual role as president and CEO of Pultronex Corporation. Founded in 1998, Pultronex Corporation manufacturers and markets high-tech fiberglass products for decking, earth erosion, railing and scaffolding applications. Utilizing its’ aerospace manufacturing process, Pultronex produces products that are very high strength, lightweight and corrosion resistant. The products rival the strength of steel at only a fraction of the weight. The products are marketed to high-level consumers as well as commercial and light industrial customers. Pultronex is headquartered in Edmonton, Alberta Canada. Pultronex Distribution USA is the sole master US distributor for the company and they are located in Scottsdale, Ariz.

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Exel to acquire pultrusion operations of Menzolit-Fibron

1st October 2001 0 comments

The Finnish composite products manufacturer Exel Oyj is to acquire the pultrusion operations of Menzolit-Fibron GmbH, a German company. Menzolit-Fibron is reportedly part of the Dynamit Nobel AG Group and the transfer has been set for 1 October. The maximum purchase price has been estimated at EUR3.3m with goodwill accounting for about EUR1.7m.

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Composite Products Wins Daimler Chrysler Quality Award

1st October 2001 0 comments

Composite Products has received DaimlerChrysler’s 2000 Gold Quality Award for 100% conformance with visual, dimensional and strength specifications. CPI supplies door surrounds and other glass/ thermoplastic composite structural components for Jeep Wrangler soft-top vehicles manufactured at the DaimlerChrysler Toledo assembly plant. The parts are made using CPI’s patented in-line compounding process for the production of long fiber thermoplastic (LFT) composites. This is the second consecutive year that CPI has received the Gold Award. Melissa Wanger, CPI’s Head Quality Engineer, reports that during the 2000 calendar year the company shipped approximately 90,000 sets (surrounds for left and right doors) without any rejects. The parts are molded from 40% long fiber glass filled polypropylene and weigh about 4.5 lb. for each surround. “The LFT process can produce a broad range of thermoplastic compositions based on polypropylene, nylon, polyester and most other thermoplastic resins, with glass loadings ranging up to 50 percent,” said Dr. John Busch, CPI’s Director of Business Development. “The process completely encapsulates the fiber to produce a finished composite with outstanding toughness and minimal fiber damage.” LFT in-line compounding and molding technology produces molded parts in cycle times that range from 45 to 70 seconds. Existing systems are rated for throughput of up to 1100 kilograms/hr, with charge sizes ranging in weight from 1.0 to 15.0 kilograms. The process is scalable and a system could be easily designed with higher throughput to mold larger parts. “We see in-line compounding as a revolutionary step in the economics of thermoplastic composites,” said Dr. Busch.

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Jordan to Improve Formula One Success

1st October 2001 0 comments

The Jordan Grand Prix Race Team has apointed Celerant Consulting to Improve Team’s Formula One Success The purpose of the project is to maximize the team’s on- and off-track performance in its long-term pursuit of Formula One success. “”We are helping the Jordan Grand Prix team build on its fantastic foundation and vision to become a dominant Formula One team,”” said Ian Clarkson, Celerant Consulting’s CEO. “”Performance improvements resulting from our work will translate into vital championship points for the Jordan Team,”” he added. While in the early stages of the relationship, Celerant is helping the Jordan Team minimize fault recurrence, speed-up modifications between races, and significantly reduce fault-response times. The Jordan Grand Prix team is currently in fourth place in the Formula One circuit, and raced at The American Grand Prix in Indianapolis on September 30. The team’s goal is to become the number one Grand Prix team in the next three-to-five years. Commenting on the announcement, Jordan’s Chief Operating Officer, John Putt said, “”We are confident the changes and new ways of working, implemented with Celerant Consulting’s assistance, will filter through to better team and race-day performance in the new season and seasons to come. Thanks to their experience in the manufacturing and automotive industries, Celerant is the ideal partner to improve our all-around performance as a racing team.”” The Jordan Team is headquartered at Silverstone Race Track in the United Kingdom.

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Aerovac Publishes Comprehensive Products Guide

1st October 2001 0 comments

Aerovac Systems Ltd, specialists in the development and distribution of composite process materials for the advanced composite industry, has published its latest product’s catalogue. The catalogue combines easily accessible information in clear, itemised product profiles and customer-friendly format. The inclusion of ‘actual’ product samples within the catalogue makes it a far more valuable specification tool to customers who can now examine and identify product solutions that meet their exact needs. The Aerovac Catalogue specifies over 200 products. The ranges cover Vacuum Bagging Films, Sealant Tapes, Bleeder & Breather Fabrics, Release Films, Release Fabrics /Peel Piles, Flashtapes, Self-Adhesive Tool Release, Vacuum Fittings and Rubber Products. The Company is presently developing the catalogue in a range of multi-media formats to support the published version and make specification and ordering from Aerovac an even faster and more efficient process.

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