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Composites Industry News

News for November 2003


New Eagle dual purpose Router/Cutter System

5th November 2003 0 comments

Eastman Machine Company introduced their new dual purpose Router/Cutter Automated System, named the Eagle, at the recent CFA Show. The Eastman “Eagle” gives the option of utilizing a two spindle tool heads in addition to the router. With the composites manufacturer in mind, their new design is 2-1/3Hp and 120V with the capability to route various materials commonly used in the marine and composites industry, such as balsa, cured composites, honeycomb, PVC and PVC composites. The “Eagle” has the ability to route dense materials with cuttable material thickness up to 1-3/8”. This new system is designed for high-volume production, prototyping and sample making.

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Fortune Brands to buy Therma-Tru

6th November 2003 0 comments

Consumer-goods company Fortune Brands has agreed to acquire Therma-Tru Corp., which makes fiberglass doors, for about $925 million. Therma-Tru is based in Maumee, Ohio, and has annual sales exceeding $400 million, Fortune Brands said. Under the agreement, Therma-Tru will join Fortune Brands’s Home & Hardware business, which also includes the Moen faucet and Master Lock padlock brands. The transaction is expected to close within the next two weeks.

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Kodiak's New Safety Boots

6th November 2003 0 comments

A Canadian company has launched its new reinforced-toed safety boots. Kodiak Group Inc. says its new “”rockfibre”” boots are tough enough to withstand extreme cold and pressure without triggering the growing number of metal detectors found everywhere from nuclear sites to airports. Demand for the product, made from a combination of polymers and rock fibres, is expected to be huge in the United States, a new market for Kodiak. “”We just finished assembling a U.S. sales force,”” said Kevin Huckle, president of the Mississauga-based firm. In Canada, where the company is the leader in steel-toed footwear, the new line is being offered initially to the professional trades mainly through industrial specialty stores, such as Mr. Safety and Mark’s Work Wearhouse. But Huckle said he could foresee demand expanding into the casual market served by department stores. “”There’s a major expansion coming,”” he said. Suggested retail prices range from $99 to $199, about 15 per cent higher than comparable Kodiak steel-toed footwear, the company said. Besides being security compliant, the boots have the added advantage of being about 30 per cent lighter in weight as well as warmer, the company said. “”We were trying to develop a product that didn’t conduct the cold as well as steel,”” Huckle explained.Most composite materials (man-made materials that combine two or more materials) fall apart under the harsh criteria imposed by the Canadian Standards Association, he said. Kodiak solved the problem by combining a type of polymer with rock fibres, he said. “”It’s a little like Colonel Sanders’ secret formula,”” he said, declining to go into further detail. All the components, including the eyelets, comfort systems and supportive shanks, are also metal free. To meet Canada’s safety standards, Kodiak had to demonstrate the footwear could survive the impact of a 23-kilogram object dropped from less than 61 centimetres. It also had to prove that a 122.5 kilogram (270-pound) person wearing the boot could step on a nail without puncturing the sole. The boots were designed in Canada but will be manufactured in Asia.

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Private Spaceship Control Problems Prompt Fixes

6th November 2003 0 comments

Builders of a private spaceship are ironing out control problems with their craft uncovered during drop testing at a Mojave, California desert test site. Engineers at Scaled Composites have been wrestling with issues of airflow over tail control surfaces of their SpaceShipOne suborbital vehicle. A fourth high-altitude drop test of the craft on October 17 has assessed several modifications to the tail section. Aerodynamic troubles with the tail cropped up in a previous drop test in September. SpaceShipOne encountered an unwanted nose rise, but was safely maneuvered to runway touchdown by the craft’s pilot, Mike Melvill. SpaceShipOne is the first piloted winged aircraft with outboard horizontal tails. Fully understanding the craft’s handling properties through the atmosphere is crucial. During a glide to Earth after flying to the edge of space, the vehicle’s tail section flips up to a “”feathered”” position — moved to a 65-degree angle to the main body. This critical positioning of the hinged tail section slows the craft to allow a safe and sound glide down to the airstrip. The craft is being readied for winging its way to the edge of space, a competitive shot at winning the $10 million X Prize. Numbers of rocket teams around the world are vying for the X Prize purse by designing and building various types of suborbital, passenger-carrying spaceships. Noted aircraft builder, Burt Rutan, is leader of the SpaceShipOne venture, along with a cadre of specialists at Scaled Composites, based at Mojave, California. A step-by-step ground and air test program has been scripted. That test series now includes four SpaceShipOne high-altitude drops currently listed by Scaled Composites: August 7, August 27, September 23, and October 17, 2003. Still to come are in-the-air ignitions of SpaceShipOne’s hybrid rocket motor. SpaceDev of Poway, California was picked by Scaled Composites in mid-September as the vendor of choice to supply key hardware for the propulsion system.

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Carbon in the spotlight for the America's Cup

6th November 2003 0 comments

Just as Marseilles is short-listed among the possible hosting venues for the Americas Cup, four young local engineers are actively setting up a workshop-exhibit dubbed “”The Magic Black Yarn: from carbon to the Americas Cup””. Its goal is to highlight the vital role of carbon in the world of sailing in the eyes of the general public. This original initiative, through an educational and interactive workshop will stage the different phases in the building of racing yachts, and will trigger vocations among the young. Carbon is to be given pride of place in a 250 sqm showroom, right at the heart of Marseilles, for several months in 2006: a most timely opportunity – as this will be the year of both the Vendée Globe Challenge and the America’s Cup qualifying series – to promote this outstanding material, an absolute must today in the world of construction (for sailboats, helicopters, wind turbines, etc). The workshop-exhibit will also reveal sailboat building technology to the widest possible audience, more particularly to the younger generation, who will then be drawn towards promising careers in this field. This project witnesses to the rallying of the whole city around an event of such importance as the hosting of the America’s Cup – 180.000 people have already signed up to support Marseilles. It also reveals the magic of sailing races which, beyond the sole sporting challenge, mobilizes all the energies, stirs up passionate interest and boosts up technological advances. Marseilles and its region can boast technological expertise: local manufacturers such as Composite Works – with its large facilities – are already involved in “”The magic black yarn”” project, also backed up by an entire profession, led by the project’s young organizing team. They (Nassira Boulebbad, Audrey Sery, Guillaume Pagnard, Nicolas Rolland and their professor, Jean Paul Charles) are all sailing enthusiasts, specialists in composites, and members of Think Composites (Palo-Alto, USA), an association whose goal is to transmit knowledge and know-how related to carbon composites. Prestigious patronage also comes in to support the project, such as that of Steve Tsai (Professor at Stanford University), and Franck Cammas (one of the world’s top skippers), both members of the workshop-exhibit’s technical and scientific committee.

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Reichhold Price Increase for Composites Products

6th November 2003 0 comments

Reichhold announced a price increase today of 150 Euro per metric ton on all of its products sold to the composites industry in the EMEA region (Europe / Middle East / Africa) This price increase was said to be necessary due to the continuous pressure from key cost components such as raw materials and energy, and will be effective for orders shipped on or after December 1, 2003. “Business profitability must be restored at acceptable levels so that Reichhold can continue its investment in the business in order to improve service levels and technical support to our customers,” said Alberto Piccinotti, director of sales Europe & Middle East. “Reichhold is committed to drive productivity in its operations and all other functions to minimize the need for these types of pricing actions, but cannot continue to absorb all of the increasing costs we are facing,” Piccinotti continued.

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CTG Grand Opening

6th November 2003 0 comments

CTG International (North America) Inc has opened its head office in North America, with a warehouse facility located in prestigious commercial Park100. CTG is a joint venture of Taishan Fiberglass Inc., the no.1 leading supplier of fiberglass in China and FiberLink Inc., a Canadian company with a well established sales channel. The joint venture is positioned to expand the North American market share that the two companies already enjoy. The president of Taishan Fiberglass Inc Mr. Zhifa Zhang and the mayor of Taian and a group of government officials from China attended the grand opening to celebrate this event. At the opening, Mr. Zhifa Zhang, the president of Taishan Fiberglass and CTG gave some short remarks stating “Our main focus is to continue to supply the highest quality fiberglass to our customers at the best price with the best service. The opening of this joint venture is a re-assurance of our commitment to better serve our customers and to build stronger ties and CTG International branding here in North America.” After the president’s remarks, CTG was officially opened for operation. With warehouse space of close to 30,000 sq ft, it can house more than 2 million pounds of fiberglass materials. Mr. Simon Leung from FiberLink is appointed CEO of CTG and FiberLink Inc will act on behalf of CTG sales office for its United States business. Taishan Fiberglass Inc. with over 1860 employees currently has annual production capacity of 80,000 MT, of E-Glass single and multi-end roving, chopped strand mat, woven roving and chopped strands. FiberLink Inc is one of North America’s largest representatives of offshore FRP materials.

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Boeing's 7E7 to be 50% Composite

6th November 2003 0 comments

Boeing has confirmed that it will use lightweight, non-metallic materials to build half of its proposed new 7E7 jetliner, slashing the use of aluminium to cut fuel burn and maintenance costs. Composites will account for 50 percent of the weight of the proposed 200- to 300-seat jet — about four times the amount on Boeing’s last new jet, the 777 — while aluminium would fall to 15 or 20 percent from 70 percent. “”They (composites) have very little susceptibility to fatigue; they don’t corrode like aluminium corrodes,”” said Mike Bair, Boeing’s senior vice president of the 7E7 program As a result, the 7E7 would take less time and money to maintain than current jets, while the lighter weight would help Boeing cut the aircraft’s fuel burn per passenger by some 20 percent over similar-sized current model jets. Composite use has increased in recent years. But even the Airbus 555-seat A380 mega-jet, due to enter service in 2006, will have only 20 percent composite parts. Larger amounts are planned for future Airbus aircraft. Boeing also boosted the flight range of the basic 200-seat 7E7 model to 7,800 nautical miles from 6,600 nautical miles, closer to its original plan, citing airline preferences. Pending management approval late this year or in early 2004, the 7E7 would take wing in 2008, with a second, short-range model with a flight range of about 3,500 nautical miles entering service at about the same time. Both 7E7 models would hold 200 passengers in three-class seating (first class, business and economy), or 300 passengers in single-class layouts like those favored by low-cost carriers such as Southwest Airlines. Boeing also is sticking by previously announced plans to build a third, longer “”stretch”” 7E7 with 250 seats in a three-class configuration and a maximum range of 8,300 nautical miles. That plane will not be ready until at least 2010. Despite the differing components, all three 7E7 variants would be built on the same assembly line.

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New MG Supercar Ready for Blast Off

6th November 2003 0 comments

The XPower SV is to be launched by MG Sport & Racing this weekend, intended to take the company into competition with the best of the world’s performance vehicle manufacturers. Even the entry level model is powered by a 320bhp 4.6 litre all aluminium quad cam V8 engine which propels the MG XPower SV to 60mph in a fleeting 5.3 seconds and on to a top speed of 165 mph. Automatic and higher powered SV-R versions will be available next year, while customers can also order the engine from the 225mph MG ZT-T Bonneville rated at 765bhp. Needless to say, the XPower’s interior is distinctive-In keeping with its sporting-heritage both front seats come with full inertia four belt harnesses, which are lockable for serious driving by the flick of a switch. Each cabin is trimmed with a choice of six leather finishes and competition seats and fascias are in a combination of leather and Alcantara. Designed by a team led by Peter Stevens – the man behind the McLaren F1 – the MG XPower SV benefits from state of the art technology. Central to the car’s DNA is a finely tuned chassis designed along race car principles bonded to a lightweight carbon fibre body with an integral rollover cage. The chassis and carbon body are both constructed in the heartland of the Italian supercar industry, while final assembly takes place at MG Sport & Racing’s newly established HQ at Longbridge, Birmingham. Former F1 driver Mark Blundell said: “The MG XPower SV is aggressive and raw, and at the same time stylish and refined. I have driven many of the world’s top sports cars and this car is in the same league. From the unique sound of the exhaust to the precision steering the MG XPower SV has all the qualities I look for in a sports car.” The line-up starts from £75,000.

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Kon-Tiki Adventure in Space Age Style

6th November 2003 0 comments

Frenchwoman Raphaela le Gouvello has completed a remarkable odyssey – a single-handed windsurfer crossing of the Pacific Ocean. Assisted by ESA technology, Raphaëla le Gouvello used a custom-built windsurfer driven by the wind and generating electricity from the Sun to run its navigation systems, radio and mobile phone. An innovative airbag with space technology from the European launcher Ariane guaranteed Raphaëla’s safety in the event of a capsize. And solar cells derived from technology originally developed for European spacecraft provided electricity during the crossing. Raphaëla started out on her near 8000 km journey from Peru to Tahiti on 5 August 2003, and after 89 days 7 hours and exactly 4455 nautical miles, she arrived on Sunday 2 November at Tahiti. Forty-three years old, Raphaëla is a veteran solo navigator. She is the only woman in the world to have crossed both the Atlantic (in 2000) and the Mediterranean (in 2002) alone on a sailboard. “The Atlantic Ocean has shown me how painful it could be for a person to be alone on the ocean, stuck with no wind,” Raphaëla explained before the start of her latest trip. “The Mediterranean Sea was a provoker of strong emotions with its beauty, along with its changing mind and its sometimes vicious waves. Each time you take off to sea, you have to be prepared for new difficulties.” “On the Pacific Ocean one must deal with its huge dimensions. Everything is multiplied by the scale of this ocean.” For instance, the shark density is three times higher than that of the Atlantic, and therefore she decided not to fish for food on the trip: “Even if they don’t attack except in very determined circumstances, a dead fish could be a lure for sharks and create a situation I couldn’t control.” Six sails – their areas ranging from 4.2 to 7.4 m2 – a carbon fibre mast and an aluminium wishbone were the only ‘engines’, along with Raphaëla herself and her 17 years of windsurfing experience. The board itself is a custom-built windsurfer, 7.80 m long and weighing 550 kg, including a watertight sleeping compartment. But righting such a hefty board in difficult conditions could be very hard to do. Her 2000 crossing of the Mediterranean Sea was almost interrupted when her board capsized, but with great difficulty she managed to right it.

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