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Composites Industry News

News for March 2003


Renault F1 and 3D Systems Launch Advanced Digital Manufacturing Center

1st March 2003 0 comments

3D Systems has set ip a new Advanced Digital Manufacturing (ADM) Center with the Mild Seven Renault F1 Team. Under the new five-year agreement, 3D Systems and the Renault F1 Team have launched an Advanced Digital Manufacturing Centre at the team’s facility at Enstone, part of the UK motorsport valley in Oxfordshire. The ADM Centre specifically concentrates on Formula 1 design and low-run production parts for the Renault F1 Team car. From the early days of the partnership in 1998, the team had been gradually expanding the use of solid imaging technology from rapid prototyping to manufacturing of wind tunnel models. These steps have led to direct manufacturing of production parts for testing and racing and in 2001, the first SLA(R) system parts were fitted into a racecar. The facility launched on Friday 21 February, features four SLA 7000 Systems, an OptoForm(TM) direct composite manufacturing (DCM) system and a ThermoJet(R) printer. They provide advanced manufacturing tools to support the aerodynamic development of Renault F1 single-seat racecars. Future additions to the ADM Centre will include 3D Systems’ SLS(R) (selective laser sintering) systems. Mike Gascoyne, technical director of Renault F1 Team UK said, “”I am extremely pleased to see our partnership with 3D Systems flourish. I have been a strong believer in this technology since its first steps into Formula 1. It is now great to see a manufacturing structure of this capacity become exclusive to our facility. 3D Systems has been very responsive to the challenges posed by our environment. Together our engineers have worked for some time as a team to push the boundaries of this technology into real world applications.”” “”Digital manufacturing of actual components is exactly what we need for our aerodynamic program,”” Gascoyne added. “”We can rapidly make 50 of every single part you see on the car for wind tunnel testing. After wind tunnel testing we can chose the best design. This gives us the ability to test more parts for the same budget, which is a huge advantage for us. Not only can we build finished components a hundred times faster, but each part is infinitely more accurate. “”The changeover from last year’s bodywork to a new aerodynamic package developed using ADM technology results in the Renault F1 Team racecar expected to go 1.5 seconds a lap quicker on the racetrack than earlier in the season. What’s that worth in motor racing terms? You can’t put a price on it.”” Flavio Briatore, managing director of Renault F1 Team said, “”Formula 1 is an intensely competitive environment in which the Renault F1 Team has historically excelled at developing crucial technological advantages over its rivals. To succeed again, we must collaborate with the strongest partners. I am delighted that 3D Systems has chosen the Renault F1 Team to showcase its innovative technology.””

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Live Floor Demonstrations Added to SAMPE 2003

1st March 2003 0 comments

Several Live Floor Demonstrations in the Exhibition area will be featured at SAMPE at the Long Beach Convention Center in California. The initial lineup for floor demonstrations currently includes the National Composites Center (NCC) and Why Not Composites. Several others are being considered because of the strong interest in live demonstrations on the Exhibition floor during the normal exhibit hours. National Composites Center (NCC) has been very active in the civil engineering and infrastructure areas. They are particularly well known for their work with respect to composite bridge deck structures. With Federal studies indicating that 30-40 percent of US roadway bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, there is a growing need for efficient bridge replacement, repair, retrofit, or total redesign. Composite FRP bridge deck and bridge structures have been developed by NCC. NCC will demonstrate the assembly of their latest FRB bridge deck sections and girder systems on the SAMPE 2003 Exhibition floor. The composite FRP bridge decks will be demonstrated and the assembly process repeated several times during SAMPE 2003. Video presentations of field installation and various bridge site installations will also add to the demonstrations. Why Not Composites, known for the development of closed molding resin infusion processes, will demonstrate their Channel-Assisted Resin Transfer Molding (CARTM™) process. Because resin infusion process interest permeates SAMPE 2003 (tutorials, preforms sessions, resin infusion process sessions, etc.), the CARTM™ demonstrations will appeal to the show attendees. The process demonstrations will be per-formed repeatedly during the Exhibition to demonstrate the simplicity of the technology. The process is capable of infusing large structures and is suitable for repetitive part production runs. Other SAMPE 2003 live floor demonstrations are also being pursued and their status will be updated at a later time.

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New Epoxy Prepreg Compatible Gelcoat

1st March 2003 0 comments

Advanced Composites Group and Scott Bader have launched ACG Crystic GC260, to be compatible with ACG VTM260 series epoxy prepreg systems and associated ZPREG materials. Crystic GC260 is a pre-accelerated gelcoat specifically formulated by Scott Bader for use with all VTM260 series prepregs and associated ZPREG formats. Currently formulated for brush application, Crystic GC260 will bond to VTM260 series prepregs without the use of a tiecoat. Tests have shown that the Crystic GC260 gelcoat gives a robust and reliable bond with VTM260 epoxy prepregs across a wide range of cure cycles between 65°C to 120°C (140°F to 248°F). Application is simple; Crystic GC260 gelcoat is applied to the mould in the same way as any other gelcoat system, to a controlled thickness of 0.4mm-0.5mm (0.015-0.020 inch) wet film thickness. Then a minimum period of two hours is required before laminating can begin using the VTM260 prepreg or ZPREG formats. To those moulders wishing to adopt prepreg lamination, but not wishing to replace an existing polyester gelcoat system, ACG/Scott Bader have offered Crystic TC260, a tiecoat formulated to give a robust and reliable interlayer between VTM260 series prepregs (and ZPREG) and a range of standard gelcoats.

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Zeon Chemicals Expands Line of Toughened Tackifiers

1st March 2003 0 comments

Zeon Chemicals is expanding its line of toughened tackifier resins with the commercialization of DuoMod ZT-2, designed for low temperature cure VARTM composites This new tackifier is useful for curing at ambient temperatures up to 250°F (120°C). The DuoMod ZT-2 toughener follows DuoMod ZT-1, designed for RTM and VARTM composites cured at 250°F and above. Like its predecessor, DuoMod ZT-2 increases the fracture toughness and damage tolerance of VARTM composites, without the loss of laminate flexural and laminate properties common with conventional tougheners. Mark Shioleno, Zeon Sr. Marketing Specialist said, “DuoMod ZT-2 addresses the need for improved damage tolerance in low-temperature cure VARTM systems. Its enhanced tack provides better preform integrity and facilitates debulking. This new product further demonstrates Zeon’s commitment to providing a complete range of toughening solutions to the composites industry.” Ideal applications for the DuoMod ZT-2 include epoxy VARTM composites for sporting goods, automotive, marine, construction, and consumer applications. The DuoMod ZT-2 tackifier is supplied in an acetone solution for easy spraying onto a variety of fabrics and fibers. It can be used with any low-temperature cure epoxy matrix resin and since DuoMod ZT-2 is applied only to the fiber preform, it does not affect resin processing. Duomod ZT-2 has been evaluated in commercially available low-temperature cure epoxy VARTM systems from Applied Poleramic, Gougeon Brothers and Resolution Performance Products. Compared to the unmodified control laminates, Mode I fracture toughness (GIC) was improved by up to 147%, while Mode II toughness (GIIC) increased by up to 106%.

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Resin Systems appoints Consultant for Power and Utility Sectors

1st March 2003 0 comments

Resin Systems has appointed Erich P. Gnandt to provide key engineering and marketing services to the Company as it moves to commercialization of a composite material pole for the power and utility sectors. Commenting on obtaining Mr. Gnandt’s services, Company President and CEO Greg Pendura stated, “”Erich is extremely well known and respected within the power industry. We believe he will be a key contributor not only in the area of technical assistance but also with our marketing program. His knowledge and the fact he is well known will be of immense benefit to Resin Systems. This is another important step in our efforts to create the right team to expeditiously exploit opportunities for what we believe will be revolutionary composite poles and crossarms for the power and utility sectors””. Mr. Gnandt’s views on the industry and Resin Systems are as follows. “”In my opinion, the utilization of composite materials is finally realizing an exponential growth rate as a replacement or alternative material for a multitude of products already on the market and soon as the main structural component for an endless list of new products. Regarding its use by utilities, many composite based products such as composite insulators have been introduced to utilities over 20 years ago with their preference over porcelain acknowledged today by utilities world-wide. As with any product, price and performance are critical to the acceptance and regular usage of composites in the utility industry with the price being the main issue holding back many utilities when first introduced to composite poles. With the expected recommendation and approval for acceptance of composite poles by the National Electric Safety Code (NESC) in USA, this should remove the technical and legal concerns of utilities for buying composite poles. Because of the superior technical characteristics of RSI’s resin “”Version””, which is used in the manufacture of their composite poles, RSI should be able to manufacture a mechanically stronger, lighter weight and less expensive composite pole compared to their present competitors. This should overcome and resolve most if not all issues so that utilities can confidently purchase composite poles for both pole replacement and new construction applications””.

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Baltek Completes Sale of Shrimp Operations

1st March 2003 0 comments

Baltek Corporation has completed the previously announced sale of its shrimp businesses Marines C.A. and Recorcholis S.A.. Jacques Kohn, President of Baltek said, “”This sale completes our divestiture of our seafood operations as previously planned. We can now better focus our resources on developing our continuing business which is the sale of core materials.”” Baltek is a manufacturer and distributor of balsa wood products and other structural core materials, including PVC Foam and non-woven mat products.

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Kentucky Plant Explosion Death Toll at 3

1st March 2003 0 comments

The death toll from last week’s blast and fire at a southeastern Kentucky insulation plant has risen to three. David Hamilton, 37, died late Tuesday and Arnold Peters, 57, died early Wednesday, both at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn. Jimmy Lemmings, 42, died at the hospital Sunday. Altogether, 44 people were taken to hospitals after the explosion and fire Thursday at CTA Acoustics. More than a dozen of the injured were transferred to other hospitals for treatment of severe burns. Federal and state fire investigators finished their initial examination at the company, which makes acoustic and thermal insulation for the automotive industry. They concluded it started around a production line where mats of fiberglass and backing material are bonded by passing them through ovens powered by natural gas.

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Team New Zealand mast breaks

2nd March 2003 0 comments

Team New Zealand’s 110-foot carbon-fiber mast snapped in two during a squall and tumbled into the Hauraki Gulf on Friday, the second — and most spectacular — breakdown in four races for the two-time defending champion. Team New Zealand’s 110-foot carbon-fiber mast snapped in two during a squall and tumbled into the Hauraki Gulf on Friday, the second — and most spectacular — breakdown in four races for the two-time defending champion. Alinghi sailed alone around the rest of the six-leg, 18.5-nautical mile course to take a 4-0 lead in the best-of-nine series. “We’re running out of things to break,” skipper Dean Barker quipped. “We just have to take this on the chin again and move on.” The Kiwis won the last two America’s Cup matches — both by 5-0 sweeps — with design breakthroughs, but they have been crippled in this cup because of breakdowns. A boat that was thought to be fast this time because of a radical hull appendage called a “hula” has instead fallen apart twice in front of a shocked nation. Sailing the upwind third leg in heavy seas left over from two days of gale-force wind, the 80-foot carbon-fiber NZL-82 buried its bow into two successive waves less than halfway through the race. America’s Cup sloops are under tremendous loads, and as NZL-82 came out of the second wave, the $500,000 mast broke about 30 feet above the deck and dragged the rigging over the left side of the boat. Syndicate head Tom Schnackenberg said a fitting broke in the rigging about 40 feet above the deck, basically stripping away support for the one-ton spar. “When I saw the boat hit those two waves, I thought, ‘Oh my God, something’s got to give,’ and something did,” Schnackenberg said. The crippled yacht was towed back into port with the top of the mast still sticking into the water at an odd angle. A saw was brought on board and a crewman began cutting into the tangle of wires. In Race 1 on Feb. 15, the black boat began taking on water in choppy seas, and the stress on the boat led to gear failure that forced the Kiwis out of the race just 25 minutes after the start. Team New Zealand snapped two masts during training last year. “We are sorry for the sailors onboard NZL-82 today,” said Jochen Schuemann, Alinghi’s German-born strategist. “A dismasting is certainly one of the worst things that can happen in a race. Team New Zealand has bet a lot on their technology and either they pushed this card too far, or they didn’t have enough time to test their findings.” Alinghi went on to make history on Saturday, when they won race 5 to take the America’s Cup back to Europe for the first time in 152 years, and to a landlocked country at that.

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ICO Polymers Releases New Bonding Powders for the Textile Industry

11th March 2003 0 comments

ICO Polymers has released a line of adhesive and bonding powders for a variety of textile applications, including wovens, non-wovens, carpet backing, and both short- and long-fiber wood composites. Helga Dekempeneer, ICOTEX Market Manager in Europe, explains, “”We have successfully sold powders for textiles throughout Europe. We are pleased to spread our knowledge and expertise in this industry around the globe, particularly in North America.”” “”The expansion of our North American product line to include bonding powders for textiles is a natural one,”” continues Charlie Busceme, Senior Vice President of Sales, ICO Polymers North America, “”and this is just the next step in our global commitment to set the standard for quality and service for all powdered polymer needs.””

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Alcan Grows Composite Products Business Through Acquisition of Baltek

11th March 2003 0 comments

Alcan has entered into agreements to acquire Baltek Corporation, the supplier of balsa-based structural core materials, for approximately US$35 million.

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