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Composites Industry News

News for April 2004


JEC AWARDS 2004: THE WINNERS AND THEIR PARTNERS

15th April 2004 0 comments

At the JEC Awards 2004 ceremony, that took place on Tuesday, March 30 as part of the JEC Composites Show 2004, five partnerships were rewarded in the following categories:

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Goals of the Newly Reformed EuCIA

15th April 2004 0 comments

The Groupement européen des Plastiques Renforcés / Matériaux Composites (GPRMC) created in 1960, has transformed its name into the international non profit association EuCIA, acronym for European Composites Industry Association. The primary goal of EuCIA is to unite the composites industry at European level into one single European association. It invites all existing non member associations with roots in Europe – whether national associations or European branch associations – to join EuCIA as a member. Secondly it composites composite manufacturers to create a representative national association in countries were none exists and to cooperate via their association with EuCIA. In this way EuCIA hopes to continue and broaden the work of its predecessor GPRMC. The EuCIA also aims to defend its interests at European and international level and to follow-up new legislation and standards especially at EU and EEA level whenever the composites industry is directly or indirectly concerned.

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Oxeon AB Introduces Innovative Carbon Fibre Textrem Reinforcement

15th April 2004 0 comments

Oxeon AB introduced Oxeon TeXtreme at JEC – a carbon reinforcement produced by interlacing stabilized unidirectional 20-50 mm wide tapes, rather than yarns. The achieved fibre architecture is claimed to combine the structural performance of unidirectional fibres, with the handling benefits of a woven textile, giving improved mechanical properties, potentially lower production cost and improved surface smoothness. Oxeon TeXtreme has therefore attracted immense attention and is currently being evaluated for a number of applications in the automotive, aerospace, sports & leisure and marine industries. At present Oxeon TeXtreme is available only in 0, 90 orientation, but in the future the ± 45 orientation version will also be available.

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Celstran Long Fibre Reinforced Thermoplastic (LFRT) in Polaris All Terrain Vehicle Racks

15th April 2004 0 comments

The front and rear racks on the Polaris Industries Sportsman 700 Twin all terrain vehicle (ATV) are made of Celstran long fibre reinforced thermoplastic (LFRT) to gain a moulded part having high impact and flexural strength at low temperatures. The racks on the Sportsman 700 Twin hold strapped-on cargo or serve as a mounting point for cargo boxes and accessories like sprayers and seeders. The front rack, which measures 20 x 40 inches (51 x 102 cm), is rated for up to 100 lbs (220 kg). The rear one is rated at up to 200 lbs (440 kg) and has dimensions of 25 x 43 inches (63.5 x 109 cm). Both rack systems are ribbed to reduce weight and build strength. They also have tie-down areas and are supported by painted steel members bolted to the main frame of the ATV. The injection-moulded racks are made of Celstran PP GF40 02 LFRT, which contains 40 percent long glass fibres in a polypropylene matrix. “We looked at traditional short-fibre-reinforced plastics, some much more expensive than the long-fibre polypropylene we chose, but none had the low-temperature impact strength, toughness and the other properties we needed,” says Scott Ostroski, program leader for the Po-laris Sportsman ATV product line. “The Celstran LFRT racks passed our demanding durability tests, so we are sure they will withstand the rigors of sustained use in off-road vehicles.” “This means, for instance, that they have the fatigue resistance to flex when carrying sandbags and other substantial loads as the ATV traverses rough terrain. The racks weigh less than if they were made of steel, and moulding them was far faster than forming them from steel. The plastic racks need no secondary steps after processing.” Polaris also uses Celstran LFRT instead of steel in the bumpers, racks, cargo boxes and footwells of its Sportsman 400, 500 and 600 and Magnum ATV lines. The grades used in these applications contain 10 to 40 percent long-glass fibre in polypropylene. The Sportsman 700 Twin was named “ATV of the Year” in 2002 by ATV Magazine for its innovation, industry influence and consumer interest. It is powered by a liquid-cooled, four-stroke, twin engine and has a new frame and transmission and an upgraded independent rear suspension.

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Weaving Gets a New Dimension

15th April 2004 0 comments

Biteam AB, a small Swedish R&D company, is pioneering the development of Dual-Directional Weaving processes for manufacturing high-performance materials. Two methods have been developed that interlace a multiple layer warp with two mutually perpendicular sets of multiple wefts to directly produce countless varieties of profiled cross-sectional materials. These path-breaking methods, whereby interlacing is achieved in both vertical and horizontal directions of warp, are enabled by two novel dual-directional shedding methods that alternately create multiple sheds in the two directions. These developments, called Dual-Directional Weaving, are a whole new concept and cannot be performed using existing weaving equipment and practice. Their practicability have been demonstrated in laboratory.

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Johns Manville’s new generation of densified chopped strands

15th April 2004 0 comments

Johns Manville introduced their ThermoFlow densified chopped strands for thermoplastic compounds a new product at JEC 2004 in Paris. ThermoFlow is claimed to have superior processing properties for extrusion applications combined with improved mechanical and matrix bonding properties. It will be available in 4mm fibre lengths for a wide range of thermoplastics such as PA, PP, PBT and other compounds. Applications include automotive, electrical and consumer goods. “Over the past year, our ThermoFlow products have been successfully introduced in North America, helping our customer reach a new level of performance. Our next step is to incorporate the technology at our Trnava, Slovakia facility by October 2004”. Said Karin Demez, Global Products Manager and Account Manager for Thermoplastics.

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JEC Market Report presented at JEC 2004

15th April 2004 0 comments

JEC recently conducted a market survey called “Structure and Dynamics of the Composites Industry”, focusing on the main trends and future prospects of the composites industry. “This market survey was conducted on an international level, as JEC’s scope now stretches across the world,”” said Frédérique Mutel, JEC General Manager. Our media sources – website, magazine, forums and show – have become international platforms enabling composite industrialists to showcase their products and innovations. The survey therefore had to be global and cover the main trends, while illustrating the market dynamics of each continent”. The composites industry, employing 400,000 to 450,000 people worldwide and representing 41.5 billion euros in volume, is characterised by its great heterogeneity. Five main segments have been identified: end users (57%), raw material producers (21%), processors (9%), equipment manufacturers (8%) and distributors (5%). Four industrial application groups represent 70% of the total market value: automotive (23%), building and public works (21%), aeronautics (17%) and sports (11%). The composites industry is now considered a mature market: the industry’s growth – linked to GDP growth – has been estimated at 4% to 5% per year in volume for the 2003-2008 period and at 2% to 3% per year in terms of value. Wind energy (+20% per year), aerospace (+9% per year), automotive (+7% per year), and shipbuilding (+7% per year) are currently the most dynamic sectors in terms of volume. Several market segments in the value chain such as thermoplastic resin production, wood fibres, carbon fibres and automatic injection processes should experience stronger worldwide growth than the industry’s average growth in the medium term (6% to 15% per year in value). The fall in prices – due to the construction of new production sites in cost-competitive countries, as well as overall improvements in productivity – puts great pressure on profit margins and leads to the consolidation of the value chain at various different stages: upstream, where raw material manufacturers (resins and fibres) are already consolidated on an international level, and downstream, where the consolidation process is underway. North America represents 40% of the composites industry’s total market value, with 35% for Europe, 22% for the Asia-Pacific region and 3% for the rest of the world. Emerging countries: the increasing weight of emerging countries upon world production is due to 1) increasingly competitive factor costs and 2) downstream suppliers under the obligation to follow their customers expanding in fast-growing regions. Downstream in the value chain for example, the annual volume growth expected for the production of composite parts used in end-markets between 2003 and 2008 is higher in China (+9,5%) and India (+15%) than it is in Europe and North America (+4%). North America, Europe and Japan: these regions account for 58% of the industry’s market value and are characterised by a high degree of technicality and/or geographical barriers (product transportation from one continent to another hindered by exorbitant costs or safety restrictions). These countries are rarely affected by price drops or relocation of production in emerging countries. Consequently, many European, North American and Japanese players such as raw material producers, intermediate product manufacturers and final processors (integrated or not) experience strong growth and profitability. Their annual average cumulated growth rate over the past 5 or 7 years was estimated at 10% to 30%, generating an average return on capital employed of 10% to 40% over the same period. Even though environmental regulations restrict the expansion of composites in Europe and North America, this at least gives Western composite players the opportunity to improve their manufacturing processes, which can then be used as a sales argument. Key factors behind the success of competitive companies Innovation (high quality pitch- or PAN-based carbon fibres for example): innovation-based strategies are generally backed by North American and European public organisations and involve constantly renewing product ranges, which generates hefty R&D budgets. Close proximity to customers: this can encourage a complex process of daily co-operation. R&D centres shared between customers and suppliers create entry barriers. Leading global position (high market share) in a market subject to strong scale effects: leading fibre producers greatly reduce unit production costs and generate solid profitability. World-renowned brands: particularly valuable for finished product manufacturers who have integrated composite processing into their business activities. On market segments where a brand is particularly reputed and when the company’s location is not the only key factor of success, certain Western players have created strong entry barriers by heavily investing in communication strategies. As Frédérique Mutel pointed out, “this market survey underlines the fact that – irrespective of geographical region and product segment – the future prospects of the composites industry on the whole are looking positive in the short and long term thanks to the industry’s great potential and various new applications for composite materials”.

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Polymeric Composites Invest in New Site

15th April 2004 0 comments

Aerospace and defence supplier, Polymeric Composites, has invested £2.1 million in a new facility in their hometown of Clevedon, North Somerset. Polymeric Composites, part of the Ipeco Holdings Group, are involved in the design and manufacture of components and bonded structures using fibre reinforced composite and metallic materials. The new premises will increase production space by more than 50 per cent with the building work due for completion during August 2004. The move of plant and equipment will be finalised at the end of this year. Martin Want, Director and General Manager said “We have had a very good last five years and have seen growth not only in activity with our current customers but with the development of a new customer base. This site was the only one in the area that could accommodate our expansion plans and the investment by our parent company has demonstrated a huge level of confidence, not only in our skilled workforce but in the composite industry as a whole.”

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Dow Spins Off Fulcrum Technology

15th April 2004 0 comments

Dow has spun off its Fulcrum thermoplastic composite business to a newly formed company, Fulcrum Composites Inc. The initial Fulcrum technology was developed at The Dow Chemical Company and is a revolutionary pultrusion process using resins manufactured by Dow. The new company acquired all physical and intellectual assets of the Fulcrum technology including the manufacturing facilities at the National Composite Centre in Dayton, OH; a broad portfolio of patents, trademarks and commercial agreements. Chris Edwards, formerly the Dow Business Manager for Fulcrum technology resigned from Dow to become the new CEO of Fulcrum Composites Inc. Edwards stated, “This is a great opportunity for the Fulcrum business. The development of Fulcrum technology was based both in chemistry and polymer science. This made Dow, with its world class material science expertise, the ideal place for the development. The challenge of the new company is to adjust to the scale and speed of the industries we serve. Fulcrum Composites Inc will continue the evolution of the process and technology and bring additional focus on design and structural analysis to accelerate development of new applications.” “Fulcrum Composites Inc now has an opening to maximize the value of this technology, and we benefit from increased demand for our resins,” said Greg Jozwiak, Dow Business Director for Elastomers & Specialty Products. “Fulcrum technology has the potential to combine the flexibility and design freedom of thermoplastic extrusion with the structural attributes of high performance composites. We are pleased to see the creation of this new company with potential to have a significant, positive impact on the future of the plastics industry.” Dow has acquired a minority equity position in Fulcrum Composites Inc.

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Brookhouse Expertise helps British Airways make Cost-Effective D-Duct Repair

15th April 2004 0 comments

By reverse engineering a full bond and support tool for a GE-90 D-duct, Brookhouse Patterns has helped British Airways’ Aircraft Component Services Group to achieve an in-house, cost-effective repair of a damaged Boeing 777 engine at its London Heathrow workshops. Aircraft Component Services (ACS) is the main support workshop at Heathrow and undertakes complex approved repair of many aircraft components, thereby avoiding sending parts back to original manufacturers for repair which incur higher costs and longer repair lead times. The facilities of ACS were recently challenged, when they were faced with repairing a GE-90 thrust reverser translating cowl, which had been severely damaged by a collision with another company’s fuel truck in Boston. Although minor repairs to these cowls, or D-ducts as they were known, had been carried out by the workshops previously, a repair of this magnitude had never been attempted. Essentially, the cowl consists of an acoustic panel of sandwich structure construction, which is attached to an outer panel. The collision had cause significant damage to the acoustic panel and, faced with a bill of some $250,000, for a complete replacement panel, ACS decided to investigate the repair possibilities. One of the chief problems facing the repair team was the fact that, to meet Boeing specifications, the panel would have to be cured at a temperature of 350°F at the original autoclave curing pressure. To achieve this, it was realised that a full bond tool would be necessary, to maintain the panel profile and prevent any distortion during the repair cycle. Having worked previously with Brookhouse, notably in rebuilding damaged Boeing 747 radomes, ACS decided to entrust the building of the support and bonding tool to the Darwen company. In the absence of any design documentation, Brookhouse agreed to manufacture the new tool by reverse engineering. Consequently, the damaged acoustic panel was despatched to Brookhouse to fix a temporary repair of the damaged area to restore the panel to its original surface geometry. The panel was then used as the original pattern for the support saddle of the tool and was located in a specially manufactured, holding fixture while it was laid up with carbon fibre. The saddle was then cured on the component in an autoclave. Having established the correct tool geometry, the carbon fibre, support and backing structure was then attached to the saddle and the complete, rigid assembly was located on a steel handling trolley. This was used both to hold the tool during transport back to Heathrow and also to wheel the tool around the workshops. Final repair of the damaged panel, incorporating the use of a specially manufactured honeycomb core, was effected at ACS and the complete assembly was successfully cured on the support and bond tool at elevated temperature and pressure, with no distortion or damage to any part of the structure. Moreover, ACS now possesses a tool to carry out similar repair jobs, which would normally cost in excess of £1million if sent back to the manufacturer. Brookhouse Patterns Ltd is a company within Brookhouse Holdings Ltd, which recently became one of the first companies in the UK to be approved to the new Aerospace series quality management system AS/EN9100:2000, which recognises the Group’s total commitment to quality and aerospace excellence.

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