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Composites Industry News

News for June 2004


Carbon Nanofibre Bridge ‘Lights Up’ SAMPE Conference

4th June 2004 0 comments

University of Dayton’s (UD) engineering students recently fabricated and tested their “HOT-SPAN” model bridge containing an electrically conductive road surface. The Hot Span bridge was tested at the SAMPE Super Light-Weight Composite Bridge Building Contest, which is currently in its seventh year. A 110-volt, alternating current was applied to the ends of the bridge to demonstrate the ability to light up a 75-watt light bulb and heat the road surface for winter time de-icing. The bridge was comprised entirely of glass fibre composite materials, with the exception of carbon nanofibres that were incorporated into the fibre glass road surface, termed “NANO-Sphalt”. The demonstration was performed while the bridge was tested to initial stages of mechanical failure in a three-point bending test. The light bulb remained illuminated throughout the test, thus illustrating the mechanical robustness of carbon nanofibre technology for imparting electrical conductivity to materials that are inherently nonconductive. The goal of the project was to demonstrate the potential of currently available, affordable nanomaterials and process technologies for fabricating multifunctional composite structures. The project was conducted by University of Dayton electrical engineering student Jon Engelsman and recent chemical engineering graduate Nick Gagliardi. UD-SAMPE Student Chapter Advisor Dr. Don Klosterman served as project advisor. The bridge was constructed at the University of Dayton Research Institute (UDRI). A key to the success of the project was the ability to uniformly disperse highly conductive carbon nanofibres in the polymer resin used in the composite road surface. Affordable carbon nanofibres, obtained from Applied Science of Cedarville, Ohio, were dispersed in epoxy resin using a nanoparticle dispersion process developed by UDRI and Air Force Research Laboratory researchers at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (U.S. Patent Application 2003/0039816). This dispersion process is currently being scaled up by UDRI to 10 to 50 pound batch sizes. The process and resulting nanomaterials are currently commercially available from Nanosperse LLC of Akron, Ohio, the exclusive licensee of the dispersion technology. The SAMPE Super Light-Weight Composite Bridge Building Contest is organized by Dr. Howard Kliger (H.S. Kliger & Associates Inc, Somerset, N.J.), and is a regular annual SAMPE event, growing in popularity and participation since its inception. The goal is to build a lightweight “bridge” that maximizes the ratio of bending strength to bridge weight. The bridges are 24 inches long and have a 4-inch-wide “road surface.” There are different categories based on the types of composite materials used. The HOT-SPAN bridge demonstration was the first of its kind in the SAMPE bridge contest history. This builds on last year’s project by UD students, “World’s First Carbon Nanofibre Bridge”, which targeted structural property improvements.

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New Subaru WRX Carbon Fibre Gear Knob

4th June 2004 0 comments

Carbon Concept has released a carbon fibre gear knob for the Subaru WRX, the first in a series of new carbon fibre products. Carbon Concept regard themselves as being one of the leading designers and manufacturers of high quality carbon fibre automotive parts and appearance accessories for the sports compact market. The Carbon Concept gear knob is ergonomically designed and has a deep lustrous clear coat with a red imprinted stylized STI insignia on the top. The shape of the knob is claimed to provide a comfortable grip for the fingers and a rest for the palm. “The shift knob is one of the easiest appearance upgrades a WRX owner can make,” said Bruce G. Carlton, president of Saratoga Concept and a partner in Carbon Concept. “Not only is installation simple but the placement of the gear knob in the centre of the interior makes the shift knob an attention getting appearance item. In addition, our new carbon fibre shift knob provides a more comfortable, substantial feel in the palm of your hand.” “Many of the knobs being sold today as carbon fibre shift knobs are not solid carbon fibre,” stated Carlton. “We’ve seen many knobs that are mostly aluminium with carbon fibre inserts or pieces that are assembled out of multiple parts. We know enthusiasts appreciate and understand the benefits of a single moulded piece.” Carbon Concept designs and manufactures a number of carbon fibre parts and accessories for sports compact vehicles such as carbon fibre hoods, cool air intake covers, interior vent rings, among many others.

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Dow Corning Emerges from Chapter 11

4th June 2004 0 comments

Dow Corning has emerged from Chapter 11 this week following nearly a decade of bankruptcy protection against some 19,000 lawsuits. “”Dow Corning’s emergence from Chapter 11 will allow us to focus squarely on what we do best – providing products, services and business solutions to help our customers succeed,”” said Gary E. Anderson, chairman of Dow Corning. “”We continue to explore high potential applications for silicon materials and services in a wide variety of industries. We are actively developing innovations in photonics, solar solutions, silicon biotechnology and other environment-friendly technologies.”” In April this year, a U.S. District Court Judge Denise Page Hood approved a motion that allows for the payment of undisputed commercial claims, removing one of the remaining obstacles to emergence. As a result, Dow Corning’s Joint Plan of Reorganization, which received the support of nearly 95 percent of the claimants who voted for it, becomes “”effective”” from 1st June. Anderson noted that in anticipation of emergence, the company took steps early on to establish a Settlement Facility to expedite payment to women with breast implants who wish to settle their claims. The Settlement Facility, located in Houston, was established under the Joint Plan of Reorganization, and is under the supervision of the court. It will begin this month to process and pay claims of those who elect to settle. “”We’re pleased with this resolution,”” said Anderson. “”Although breast implants never represented more than 1 percent of our business, our company is often identified with them. We are confident that the science shows a clear picture today, through more than 30 independent studies, government and court- appointed panels and numerous court decisions, that breast implants are not associated with disease. Nevertheless, we are pleased to be able to put this issue behind us.”” The company entered into Chapter 11 in 1995 when it was faced with 19,000 lawsuits. In April, a federal judge gave the green light for the company’s emergence from bankruptcy after a group of Nevada women dropped their opposition to a settlement plan. With the emergence, people who claim silicone implants have caused them health problems will begin receiving payments from a $2.35 billion fund that Dow Corning has set aside.

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Carbon Nanofibre Bridge "Lights Up" SAMPE Conference

4th June 2004 0 comments

University of Dayton’s (UD) engineering students recently fabricated and tested their “”HOT-SPAN”” model bridge containing an electrically conductive road surface.

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DuPont Expand Production of Kevlar

4th June 2004 0 comments

DuPont have disclosed plans to expand production of its high-performance DuPont Kevlar para-aramid. DuPont plans to invest over $70 million for the project and is beginning the equipment procurement process. The expansion will increase global Kevlar capacity by more than 10 percent. The project is scheduled to come online in phases between late 2005 and the first half of 2006. The specific expansion locations will be finalized as required to meet the projected start-up dates. This is the fourth expansion DuPont has made in Kevlar para-aramid capacity since 2000 due to the growing customer demand for this high-strength fibre that supports global safety and performance applications. In addition to the expansions, DuPont continues to increase capacity by optimizing the productivity of existing assets through the use of Six Sigma processes. “”Global demand for DuPont Kevlar has soared with the need for safety and security worldwide,”” said William J. Harvey, vice president and general manager – DuPont Advanced Fibre Systems. “”In addition, new applications are being developed that harness the lightweight strength of Kevlar fibre to enhance protection and performance. This capacity expansion is a critical step in growing the Kevlar business, maintaining DuPont leadership in the performance fibres market, and delivering the innovation customers expect from DuPont.”” Between 2000 and 2003, DuPont completed three Kevlar high-performance fibre expansion projects at its Richmond, Vancouver and Maydown, Northern Ireland, facilities. The 2003 expansion and this announced expansion both incorporate proprietary New Fiber Technology (NFT) developed and patented by DuPont. DuPont claim their Kevlar product to “combine high strength with lightweight and comfort with protection”.

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Ford StreetKa Glass Fibre Hardtop

4th June 2004 0 comments

Ford have issued a winter edition of their popular ford StreetKa complete with a removable glass fibre roof. The original StreetKa model was issued over a year ago without a hardtop, but Ford have now brought out a limited-production winter edition version of its Ka model, which could be converted from an open-top roadster to a coupe by the addition of a solid glass fibre roof. This hardtop has now become available as a colour-coded accessory for all other StreetKas. It can be fitted to existing models as well as ordered with new ones. Unlike most cabriolet cars with retractable roofs, operated by pressing a button, the roof of the StreetKa has to be removed with a host of tools which are supplied with the Ka, and the wires also need disconnecting to the heated rear window. The glass fibre roof then has to be physically removed from the car. As there is no possible way that the car can carry its own roof unless it’s in position, the roof has to be left behind in the garage. The hardtop will fit any StreetKa and costs 1,072 (GBP) on top of the basic price.

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Dow to Close Epoxy/Derakane Resins Unit in Canada

4th June 2004 0 comments

Dow Chemical (Canada) are to close its global epoxy production facility in Sarnia, Canada, on August 1, 2004. “This decision was made after a very thorough review process,” says Patrick Ho, business vice president for Epoxy Products & Intermediates (EP&I) at Dow. “After seeing the need for some consolidation of our production facilities worldwide, we looked at all of our epoxy plants. We took into account our global supply chain, production levels for each plant, access to raw materials and a variety of other factors. Based on that review, we came to the difficult decision that we needed to close the Sarnia epoxy facility.” The Sarnia facility produces solid epoxy resins and Derakane epoxy vinyl ester resins which is mainly supplied to customers in North America and Asia Pacific. According to Patrick Ho, the changing global market dynamics have rendered the facility under utilized, currently producing approximately 3500 MT/year (7.7 MM lbs) of DER solid epoxy resins and 2,000 MT/year (4.4 MM lbs) of Derakane resins. “We are committed to ensuring the reliability of supply for our customers and to making this transition as seamless as possible,” said Ho. Dow will consolidate production and supply North American customers from the company’s epoxy plants in Freeport, Texas (D.E.R. solid epoxy resin) and Joliet, Illinois (Derakane resins). To meet the growing demand in Asia Pacific, Dow announced the start-up in May, 2003 of a new 41,000 MT/year (88MM lbs) converted epoxy resins (CER) production unit at Dow’s site in Zhangjiagang, The People’s Republic of China. D.E.R. solid epoxy resins are primarily used in powder coatings and internal coatings of containers such as cans. Derakane resins are used in FRP applications that require high corrosion resistance and/or structural strength.

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Johns Manville Release StarRov TMLFT Plus

4th June 2004 0 comments

Johns Manville have released a premium direct roving product, StarRovLFTplus, for Long Fibre Thermoplastics (LFT) technology. Johns Manville (JM) claim that LFT is a fast-growing application based on cost-efficient technology primarily focused on structural and semi-structural automotive parts. LFT utilises longer fibres than the conventional chopped strands commonly used in injection moulding compounds. Longer fibres translate to better mechanical performance in structural components such as front-ends, bumper beams, instrument panels or spare wheel pans, according to Johns Manville Johns Manville state that the StarRov LFTplus roving features improved impregnation characteristics and excellent processability, along with LFT parts which have good dimensional stability and a coefficient of linear thermal expansion almost equal to steel. Coupled with its superior impact resistance and chemical stability (salt, oil, fuel), Johns Manville regard LFT as the ideal material for new cost effective applications in the global automotive markets. The chemical sizings of StarRov LFTplus products have been developed to be compatible with PP, PA, PBT and other thermoplastics polymers. StarRov LFTplus has two key manufacturing concepts: Direct-LFT and the offline moulding process using LFT pellets.

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Smart Cable Stayed GFRP Bridge Project Examines Bridge Vibrations

4th June 2004 0 comments

The Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research (EMPA) has developed a cable stayed footbridge with a GFRP girder in order to examine the dynamics of light weighted structures.

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Moll Industries Purchases Assets of Creative Plastic Moulders

4th June 2004 0 comments

Moll Industries, a custom plastics injection moulder and manufacturer is to purchase the assets of Creative Plastic Moulders, North Carolina. Moll’s strategy for the purchase is to dedicate the company’s Seagrove, North Carolina facility solely to medical production and assemblies. By moving production functions for appliance and consumer products to the nearby locale, Moll hopes to achieve enhanced operations for all its core market segments. Moll anticipates a continuation of “business-as-usual” for existing CPM customers and suppliers, but notes the company is under no obligations and cannot be held liable for any prior CPM commitments. Bill Collins, Operations Manager for both Moll North Carolina operations stated, “we are committed to a seamless transition of business for the Lexington facility.” He also confirmed Moll’s plans to hire many ex-CPM staff, and to aggressively pursue continued growth within all market segments. The Lexington facility, built in 1980, is comprised of about 110,000 square feet of production space, and complements an already robust array of plastics manufacturing capabilities and service offerings. Moll now commands more than 220 injection moulding machines ranging from 33 to 1650 tons, and controls sister operations in Ft. Smith, AR, New Braunfels, TX and La Vergne, TN and Brazil. Moll Industries, Inc. offer structural foam, multi-component moulding and in-mould fabric lamination and claims to be the largest full-service contract manufacturer of custom injection moulded components and assemblies to the appliance industry in North America.

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