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Composites Industry News

News for August 2003


ITW Plexus Intrioduces 1:1 Marine Structures Bonding Technology

1st August 2003 0 comments

ITW Plexus has introduced 1:1 ratio methacrylate adhesives for structural bonding of large composite structures fabricated in the marine industry. Two products have been released: MA560 and MA590 with more formulations scheduled for future release. MA560 has a working time of 60 minutes while MA590 has a working time of 90 minutes. Both can be dispensed in large masses and bonds gaps of up to 25mm and 37mm. “We’re very excited about this technological breakthrough. The long open times, anti-sag properties, the ability to cure in large gaps without boil, small gaps without worry of inconsistent cure, all while being packaged in a 1:1 formulation,” said Pat Shannon, National Marine Accounts Manager of ITW Plexus. Another advantage associated with the 1:1 products is the high dispensing rates; up to 7.5 litres per minute. “Dispensing rates are especially critical when bonding stringers larger than 8.5m in length. The increased dispensing rates along with the extended open times allow a manufacturer plenty of time to dispense and fixture large stringer assemblies”, Shannon notes. MA560 and MA590 were initially designed for the installation of composite stringers. However, because of their ability to consistently cure in small gaps, these products are also suited in applications such as deck and hull joints or radar arch assemblies where bond gaps are typically very thin. The 1:1 technology uses a non-geroter metering system that simplifies maintenance. It also allows for easy hand mixing for field repair or for smaller users who are not ready for the purchase of metering equipment.

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SP Completes Acquisition of ATC Chemicals

1st August 2003 0 comments

The SP Group has completed the acquisition of the assets of the former ATC Chemicals Inc. The acquisition consists of the manufacturing operations for Core-Bond, Poly-Bond and Poly-Fair polyester adhesives, based in Drummondville, Quebec, the two manufacturing facilities for Core-Cell structural foam, in Drummondville and Magog, Quebec, as well as various other assets. SP will integrate these former ATC operations into the SP network of manufacturing facilities which includes plants in the UK and in Spain. “Our acquisition of these assets allows us to ensure the continued supply of what have become key structural materials in the composites industry”, remarked David Cripps, SP’s Head of Planning and Communications at the UK headquarters. “ATC has developed unique foam and adhesive products that complement our current composite materials range. The products are well known amongst our existing customers for their exceptional characteristics. We are pleased to have been able to secure their future manufacturing and development.”

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Ducommun Awarded $30 Million Contract for Apache Rotor Blades

1st August 2003 0 comments

Ducommun AeroStructures (DAS) has been awarded a follow-on contract valued at $30 million for AH-64 Apache helicopter main-rotor blades for use as both original equipment and replacement blades. The Main-Rotor blade contract from The Boeing Company in Mesa, Ariz., is additive to current production and extends deliveries into 2004. Boeing produces the next-generation AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopter in Mesa for the U.S. Army and a growing number of international defense forces. The Apache rotor blades are designed to withstand direct small arms fire and maintain airworthiness, and are constructed of advanced composites, metals and polymers to exacting standards and tight tolerances. The manufacture of the blades will be at the Composite Structures unit of DAS which has built every Apache rotor blade since the inception of the program. Joseph C. Berenato, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Ducommun, stated, “”We are very pleased at the award of this follow-on contract which reaffirms our long-term commitment to major military programs as well as our up the food chain strategy of taking on more subassembly and assembly work to increase our proportion of value added work. It is especially gratifying to be part of the Boeing Team supporting the Apache helicopter.””

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ATK Composite Structures Supports Launch of Atlas V Rocket

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ATK (Alliant Techsystems) composite structures technology supported the July 17th launch of a Lockheed Martin Atlas V 521 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The launch successfully placed into orbit the Rainbow 1 direct broadcasting spacecraft for Cablevision’s RLDBS project, which will fly using two ATK reflectors and one subreflector. Lockheed Martin Space Systems built the Atlas V and Rainbow 1 satellite at its facilities in Denver, Colo., and Newtown, Pa., respectively. ATK Composites, Clearfield, Utah, produced a number of significant structures for the Atlas V core vehicle using both automated fiber placement and advanced hand layup manufacturing techniques. These structures include the 11-foot diameter heat shield assembly surrounding the RD-180 main engine, the 12.5-foot diameter Centaur Interstage Adapter (CISA), and the 17.5-foot diameter conical Boattail joining the core vehicle and the payload fairing. The parts are fabricated at the company’s Utah Composites Center in Clearfield and Southern Composites Center in Iuka, Miss. The Rainbow 1 satellite will perform its mission equipped with solar panels and three of its reflectors built by ATK’s Composite Optics Inc. in San Diego. The reflectors, some of the largest of their type ever built by ATK, are fabricated from carbon-fiber composites and range in size up to 132″” x 144″”. “”The successful launch and the content onboard the Rainbow 1 satellite dramatically demonstrate ATK’s rigorous disciplines in quality and process control and are a tribute to the viability of automated manufacturing technologies developed by ATK for high-performance applications,”” said Jeff Foote, group vice president, Aerospace. “”We are pleased with our record on the Atlas V program and are dedicated to continued success with launch vehicles and space platforms.”” The launch was the third mission for the Atlas V rocket, the largest and most powerful member of the Atlas family of launch vehicles. Lockheed Martin developed the Atlas V to meet the needs of the U.S. Air Force’s Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program and the growing needs of the company’s joint venture, International Launch Services (ILS), for its commercial and government satellite customers throughout the world.

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Trek's Carbon Fiber Bike

1st August 2003 0 comments

Lance Armstrong gained a fifth consecutive win in the Tour de France, but beneath the battle of the cyclists is the battle of bike-frame technology. Armstrong rode a carbon-fiber bike designed and built by Waterloo-based Trek Bicycle Corp. Weight is the driving force behind bike design, which led to high-end carbon fiber and new aluminum alloys.””They’re all very similar frame weights,”” said Glenn Daehn, professor of materials science and engineering at Ohio State University, but each has its own unique response. “”In a bike frame you need something that’s pretty stiff,”” said Bruce Pletka, professor of materials science and engineering at Michigan Technological University in Houghton. But what really matters is toughness, strength and how many times a material can withstand small stresses before failing, he said. Aluminum has a reputation for being stiff, which can be hard on the rider over long distances because it doesn’t absorb shock very well, Daehn said. But too much springiness in a frame makes the bike less efficient for the rider. A carbon-fiber frame is stiffer than aluminum but can better absorb the vibrations of the road, said Steve Swenson, a technician at Trek. “”It transmits vibration less harshly than aluminum,”” which translates into a more comfortable ride. More riders are choosing to enter the Tour de France with carbon-fiber bikes than ever before, said Jim Colegrove, a manufacturing engineer of composites at Trek. Aluminum, though, still remains a popular favorite. For non-professional riders, evaluating a bike frame involves many factors. Some are technical, and some purely subjective, such as ride quality and feel. And some are purely financial. A carbon-fiber bike can cost almost 11/2 times as much as an aluminum bike with the same components, Swenson said.

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NZ Firm Arms Darth Vader

1st August 2003 0 comments

Rotorua’s Kilwell Fibretube Ltd, a division of Kilwell Sports, has made about 200 carbon-fibre tubes for the producers of Star Wars: Episode Three, the last instalment in the stars trilogy. The fibreglass tubes are being used in the movie as lightsabers – weapons used by Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith and his adversaries, the powerful Jedi knights. The movie’s producers requested the tubes after they started filming at Sydney’s Fox Studios last month. The aluminium rods actors had been using for lightsabers kept breaking, creating headaches for director George Lucas. Producers spotted Kilwell Sports’ carbon- fibre fishing rods in Australia and contacted one of the company’s Brisbane-based agents to supply them with a similar product. The fibreglass tubes, coated in texalium (a silver aluminium-based coating) were considered the perfect weight and strength to hold up to the challenge of physical battle scenes. Kilwell Fibretube’s manufacturing director Neil Goodwin was sent specifications for about 200 tubes of varying lengths and sizes. The tubes were quickly assembled and sent to Sydney for filming to resume. It is understood the lightsabers’ “”glow”” will be added to the tubes by digital editors in post-production. With worldwide interest in the movie building every week, Mr Goodwin said staff were looking forward to seeing their handiwork on the big screen, despite having to wait until 2005.

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Bill Would Block DuPont Foreign Rival

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The DuPont Co. would become the military’s only source of Kevlar fiber for bullet-resistant helmets and vests under US House legislation to boost U.S.-made products. A provision in the bill would repeal a 1999 law that allowed the Pentagon to buy from foreign competitors, such as Teijin Twaron BV, a Netherlands-based maker of aramid fiber. DuPont said the law is outdated. Teijin said the repeal would lead to higher prices for U.S. taxpayers. The one-sentence provision is in the “”Buy American”” section of a $400 billion House military bill. The Senate bill excluded the provision. The House and Senate are negotiating a compromise. Fibers by DuPont and Teijin are distributed to U.S. companies that make helmets and protective vests for U.S. troops. DuPont doesn’t disclose revenues for individual products, but Kevlar is a mainstay of the company’s safety and protection business, which last year accounted for $3.5 billion of DuPont’s $24 billion in net sales. Limiting purchases to U.S. companies is “”inconsistent”” with a policy to spur competition, the Pentagon told a Senate committee in opposing the repeal. “”These products save lives, and they should not be subject to more requirements that serve to delay their delivery to those in harm’s way only to benefit the interests of a sole source,”” the Pentagon said. DuPont said the 1999 law is now obsolete and unfair because Honeywell International Inc. makes Spectra Shield thermoplastic fibers that provide the backing for ceramic chest and back plates of the vests. “”We do have competitors to the DuPont Kevlar product in the marketplace,”” said Alexa Dembek, global business manager for DuPont’s life protection products and services business, based in Richmond, Va. Dembek said the provision also is unfair because the Defense Production Act essentially requires DuPont to produce Kevlar on demand. “”These provisions are not enforceable on foreign companies,”” she said. Sen. Zell Miller, a Democrat from Georgia, where Teijin Twaron has a distribution center, is campaigning to retain the McCain provision. “”This repeal seems unjustified,”” Miller wrote last month to Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner, R.-Va. “”Once the market was opened allowing several firms to offer competitively priced para-aramid fibers, the result was over a $6 per pound drop in the price.”” The Marine Corps has selected Twaron for the primary material in a new class of protective helmets because of its lighter weight and cost, said James Mackiewicz, manager of Marine Corps products for the Army Soldier Center. “”You don’t want to be a slave to DuPont,”” he said. “”We love working with DuPont, and both DuPont and Honeywell materials are great. But one product or two products shouldn’t dictate what’s available to U.S. forces. You need all three companies.””

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Surfers Unite For New Record

1st August 2003 0 comments

A 14-strong team has surfed into the world record books by riding a wave on a single giant surfboard in Cornwall. The record bid was held at St Ives, on a 37-feet board weighing 400lb. On their fourth attempt the team of 12 men and two women stood up and surfed into shore together, setting the first official world record for the most people riding a single board. The team included the cream of British surfers, as well as an Australian and three South Africans. Britain’s surf champion Alan Stokes, 22, said riding the two feet wave with his team was not easy. The fibreglass board – officially the longest in the world – set an unofficial record when it was first used by a team of 12 people at its launch in Cornwall in 1999. A New Zealand team went one better and managed to get 13 people riding a wave on one board. The giant longboard was created by team member Tim Mellors at Custard Point boards in Newquay. It will now go back on display at the town’s Longboard House shop.

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First Quarter 2003 Polyester Resin Sales Statistics

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First quarter resin statistics for the year 2003 indicate very little improvement in unsaturated polyester resin sales from the same period in 2002., according to the US Composites Fabricators Association. The sales thus far are up 1.8 per cent to over 424 million pounds. Sales of most resin types did not show much change from the previous year’s quarter with a couple of exceptions. General purpose thixotropic resins showed an 8.2 percent increase and panel resins saw a 17.5 per cent decrease in sales. There are two sets of data in this report, resin sales by resin type and resin sales by application. The two breakdowns give better insight into how the different market segments are performing. The resin type sales report shows a large gain for the thixotropic general purpose resins. One of the major applications for these resins is in the construction segment and more specifically in tub/shower manufacturing. The application report shows that sales into bathroom component and fixture manufacturing are up 9.9 per cent. The 17.5 percent decline in the panel resin sales is seen also in the applications report with a 21.7 percent decline in construction panel resin sales. Products included in this segment include reinforced panel for skylight, greenhouse and other applications, including transportation. The definitions for the various segments may be found on the CFA web site. These resin sales reports are made available through a program funded by the resin supplier members of the CFA: AOC, Ashland, CCP, Dow, Eastman, Interplastic and Reichhold.

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CTL Awarded Major Contract

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Composites Testing Laboratory (CTL Tastail Teo) has been selected by BAe Systems (Aerostructures) to carry out a 2-year programme of Aircraft Component Part Qualification for the civil aerospace industry. CTL Tástáil Teoranta carries out accredited testing for the European advanced composites industry, from its base in Galway, Ireland. The Part Qualification of civil aircraft components requires full mechanical, physico-chemical and fractographic analyses of structural and non-structural composite wing components for both existing and new civil aircraft projects. Mr. Paul O’Neill, Senior Materials & Processes Engineer at BAe Systems (Aerostructures), said that “CTL were selected from a list of established international companies for the contract and have been successful in meeting the demanding timescales and deliverables of this major programme of work since it began in November 2002”. CTL Managing Director, Dr. Conchúr Ó Brádaigh, said that “it is very important for CTL to have won such a prestigious testing contract from one of the leading aerospace companies in the world, especially since it was achieved in the face of strong international competition”. Dr. Ó Brádaigh was speaking at the company’s Open Day in Galway, where customers from Britain, Germany, Denmark and the United States had travelled to view CTL’s new testing facilities and to meet with staff. This the second major testing contract that CTL have won in the last three months, having been awarded a major testing contract from the European Space Agency in May of this year.

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