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Composites Industry News

News for May 2004


Toray Set to Expand Base Fibre in U.S.

4th May 2004 0 comments

Textile maker Toray Industries Inc., are to expand the production capacity of its PAN-based carbon fiber and prepreg U.S facilities, in response to growing demand, company officials said Monday. Carbon fibre is supplied as a composite material in sheet form after the base fibre is processed and mixed with resin. Toray now ships the base fibre from Japan and processes it in the U.S. to supply clients there, including aircraft maker Boeing Co. Toray, the world’s largest supplier of carbon fibre, with an annual output capacity of 7,300 tons, plans to add a base fibre production facility with an output capacity of 1,800 tons at its processing plant in Alabama. The processing facility will also be upgraded to double the annual output capacity to around 3,600 tons. The company will also double the output capacity of its composite materials plant in the state of Washington to 11.2 million sq. meters a year. Those facilities are scheduled to come on line in early 2006 and the total investment is expected to be about 16 billion yen. Toray has an exclusive agreement with Boeing to supply carbon fibre used in the wings and fuselage of the Boeing 777 aircraft. The material is expected to account for about half of the weight of Boeing’s next model, the 7E7, expected to be launched in 2008. The aircraft maker has indicated its intention to procure from Toray. Toray expects its group’s worldwide production capacity of carbon fibre to reach 9,100 tons in 2004 and 10,900 tons in 2006. It expects global demand for carbon fibre, about 20,000 tons a year at present, to grow by 7 percent to 8 percent every year over the next decade.

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Sailrocket World Speed Sailing Challenger to be Launched In Southampton

4th May 2004 0 comments

After 20 months of research and testing, Sailrocket, one of the most bizzare looking marine crafts ever to be built, has been launched in Southampton. The carbon fibre craft has been designed for the sole purpose of becoming the first sailboat to break the 50 knot barrier. The spidery design of Sailrocket is based around a unique concept, that unlike all conventional yachts, the forces at work are aligned in such a way that it has no tendency to tip over. This is achieved by setting the rig off to one side and angling it so the force of the sail pulls directly on the opposing force of the underwater foil, not above it. The result is simply more speed and means that it can be pointed and held in a straight line at the optimum angle to the optimum wind, leaving the other elements to the limits of the aerodynamics and the efficiency of the underwater foil. Pilot and team leader, Paul Larsen is passionate about the project, “We have reached a very exciting stage in our efforts to build the fastest boat on Earth. I must admit to being a bit nervous as to what lies ahead and to attempt to break the marine sailing equivalent of the sound barrier is both daunting and exciting. Like an F1 car, Sailrocket is both super strong and yet super fragile”. Sailrocket was launched from, and built at, NEG Micon, which normally produces huge composite turbine blades for wind generators. The connection is Malcolm Barnsley, NEG Micon’s senior test engineer for wind power, who designed the ingenious Sailrocket and, along with Paul Larsen, proved the concept three years ago using a scale model. “”This is exactly a scaled up version of the model in terms of the sail, the weight distribution and everything so it should do exactly what the model did. The model showed that it should do over 50 knots in this configuration, without a wingsail. But now we’ll have ventilation and cavitation issues, so we’ll have to go through the same process as Yellow Pages and all the other [speed record holders].”” Larsen adds that Sailrocket has come out at exactly the weight expected. “”Within a kilogram,”” he says. “”The target weight was 170kg and I think it is probably a kilo or so under.”” The first tests of Sailrocket will happen in Weymouth within the next couple of weeks. “”We’ll put it up on the beach on a windy day and get used to getting the rig up and down,”” says Paul Larsen. “”There are a whole lot of systems here which are designed to make the testing period easier, from getting the rig up and down to getting as many runs as you possibly can up and down the course, but when you’ve worked out the configuration of the boat and you’re going for the money run, then you can get rid of a lot of these and start going down to a little bit more volatile technology, like PBO rigging. SP Systems is the materials sponsor.

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Sony to Add Carbon Fibre Headphones to ‘Qualia’ Series

7th May 2004 0 comments

Sony is adding to its six existing innovative Qualia products, released in 2003 to include a carbon fibre pair of headphones. The Qualia 010 headphones feature a wide frequency range of 5Hz to 120kHz available for playback. Distributors of the Qualia range also provide a fitting service for customers to match their head size, but because it requires a highly complex process to produce, the monthly output will be just 15 units. The new headphones will be sold by Sony Marketing and orders will be accepted from July 1, priced at $2600. “As consumers become more discriminating in their purchasing decisions, Sony is in a unique position to set itself apart with products that will touch the user like never before,” said Mike Fasulo, senior vice president of Sony Electronics eSolutions Company, which oversees the QUALIA U.S. initiative. “The QUALIA initiative enables us to offer an uncompromised approach to product engineering, design and customer experience.” The 010 headphones are super-light with earpads made of natural sheepskin, and produced using a carbon fibre frame. Sony says it’s the company’s only pair that allows you to truly appreciate high quality super audio CD’s. A company press release describes the project as “an initiative aimed at touching an emotional cord among consumers through products unique in technology, design and functionality.”

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Low Cost Styrene Abatement System Arrives In UK

7th May 2004 0 comments

Terminodour Styrene Abatement System meets new legislation to oxidize styrene. The likelihood of increased European legislation and stricter working practices associated with styrene have led to concern from the UK Composite processing industry regarding the cost of implementing and adhering to impending legislation. The Terminodour Styrene Abatement System was developed in the late nineties in Scandinavia to meet the latest legislation restricting styrene occupational exposure levels and emissions to less than 20ppm. The system uses ionisation technology to oxidise styrene at source with the principal benefits being the systems low cost when compared with other technologies and Terminodour’s ability to improve the working environment for staff. The ionisation modules can be built into existing ventilation system to reduce cost and are ideal for retrofitting. Numerous projects are operational within Scandinavia and are operating at levels below the 20ppm limit that is now a legal requirement there. A detailed case study of a small sports boat manufacturing plant is available from CSO Technik complete with an independent consultants test report on the systems efficiency. According to Colin Froud, Managing Director of CSO Technik the system is ideally suited to both small and large composite manufactures alike. “For smaller businesses the capital and running costs are affordable. For large manufacturers the system costs are far lower than other technologies with considerably less power requirements but in both cases emission levels are minimised and at the same time the working environment is improved”. Current UK legislation regarding occupational exposure of styrene is relatively lax when compared with other countries such as Sweden and France. However future legislation is likely to bring UK legislation in line with tougher levels experienced elsewhere. Current methods of styrene abatement do not treat the air flow air within the working environment and any internal improvement to air quality will depend on a high air change rate and the efficiency of the extraction system. Styrene vapours are classed by the HSE as an irritant to the nose throat and lungs with neurological impacts resulting in drowsiness, headaches and nausea. Although the HSE do not specify a safe level of exposure the current (April 2003) MEL averaged over an 8-hour day for Styrene is 100 parts per million (ppm). The Short Term Exposure Limit (STEL) is 250ppm averaged over a 15 minute exposure period. However there is a legal requirement for users to minimise exposure “as low as reasonably practicable” below the level of the MEL. The general unwritten view is that this should be around 50% of the MEL. These figures far exceed those of Scandinavia where the MEL’s have long been reduced to 20ppm. In the USA the 50ppm MEL was introduced in July 1997 however the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) subsequently adopted a recommended 20ppm MEL. The Terminodour system is claimed to be technically proficient in reducing the maximum exposure limit for styrene too less than 20ppm, providing a healthier working environment for operators.

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Sony to Add Carbon Fibre Headphones to 'Qualia' Series

7th May 2004 0 comments

Sony is adding to its six existing innovative Qualia products, released in 2003 to include a carbon fibre pair of headphones. The Qualia 010 headphones feature a wide frequency range of 5Hz to 120kHz available for playback. Distributors of the Qualia range also provide a fitting service for customers to match their head size, but because it requires a highly complex process to produce, the monthly output will be just 15 units. The new headphones will be sold by Sony Marketing and orders will be accepted from July 1, priced at $2600. “As consumers become more discriminating in their purchasing decisions, Sony is in a unique position to set itself apart with products that will touch the user like never before,”” said Mike Fasulo, senior vice president of Sony Electronics eSolutions Company, which oversees the QUALIA U.S. initiative. “”The QUALIA initiative enables us to offer an uncompromised approach to product engineering, design and customer experience.”” The 010 headphones are super-light with earpads made of natural sheepskin, and produced using a carbon fibre frame. Sony says it’s the company’s only pair that allows you to truly appreciate high quality super audio CD’s. A company press release describes the project as “”an initiative aimed at touching an emotional cord among consumers through products unique in technology, design and functionality.””

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Ex-Sas Man in Atlantic Rowing Record Bid

7th May 2004 0 comments

An ex-SAS diver from Wales is among a four-man British team that plans to smash the 100 year old world speed record for rowing unsupported west to east across the Atlantic in a carbon fibre vessel. The four amateur rowers will attempt the 2,100 mile slog from Newfoundland, Canada to Falmouth, Cornwall, in the high tech 10-metre boat Pink Lady. They must complete the crossing in less than 55 days to break the record set in 1896 by two Norwegian fishermen and equalled 17 years ago by Briton Tom McClean. Firefighter Mark Stubbs, 40, from Poole, Dorset; Times journalist Jonathan Gornall, 48, from London; digital mapping specialist John Wills, 33, from Guildford in Surrey; and ex-SAS diver Pete Bray, 44, from South Wales will set off in July. They will carry all provisions for the trip on board the aerodynamic carbon fibre vessel named after their sponsors Pink Lady apples. The 35-day record for the east-west crossing, from the Canary Islands to Martinique in the West Indies, was set by 11 Frenchmen in 1992. Ex-SAS diver Mr. Peter Bray, 47, from South Wales, described the attempt as “”an amazing challenge””. “”The boat is capable and we are capable of doing it. We will row for 24 hours a day – two men on, two men off, rowing for two hours on, two hours off,”” said Mr Bray. After the Atlantic attempt, he is also planning to canoe across the Pacific.

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Avtec Fire Retardant Coatings Listed With ICC Evaluation Service

7th May 2004 0 comments

Avtec Industries of Massachusetts have disclosed that two of its high performance fire retardant coatings, Thermashield and Eco-flex C/G have been accepted and listed with the ICC Evaluation Service, Inc. According to Avtec, both products had test results that demonstrated Class 1 interior finish classification (flamespread less than 25) and a smoke-developed index of less than 450. Complete details of this evaluation report #22-27 are accessible from the www.ics-es.org website. Thermashield and eco-flex c/g are being used in transportation projects to protect composite structures from fire damage on a composite bus and light rail applications. Testing for several other composite applications is underway. “This listing confirms the excellent performance of Avtec fire retardant technology when tested in accordance with ASTM E-84 procedures,” said Ken Foret, Vice President and COO of Avtec Industries. “There are many composite applications that can benefit from the fire protection provided by THERMASHIELD and ECO-FLEX C/G and other innovative fire safety solutions supplied by Avtec.

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Comeld Advances Composite-to-Metal Joining

7th May 2004 0 comments

TWI has released Comeld, a new innovative method of metal-composite joining, based upon a metal pre-surface treatment. The research is still in the early stages, but Comeld claims to represent a step forward in its ability to join a variety of metals with composite parts. The heart of Comeld’s success lies in a metal surface pre-treatment, invented and patented by TWI, and dubbed Surfi-Scult. The paper presented by Dr Faye Smith, Senior Project Leader at TWI, at the recent Composites Processing Association event in Birmingham focussed on a specific set of materials (GFRP joined to stainless steel for example) that were deemed to be appropriate to the marine industry. Demonstrations were also made of joins between other materials (CFRP joined to titanium for example) which proved that this technology can be applied to many joints between many different metal and composite combinations. The metals that TWI have used to date in Comeld joints are titanium, aluminium and stainless steel, although the TWI said that many other metals and alloys are suitable for this process and will be used in the future “The composites that we have used to date are carbon fibre reinforced epoxy and glass fibre reinforced polyester. As with the metals, many other composite materials are suitable and will be investigated as part of on-going research”, said Faye Smith. To make Comeld joints the pre-treatment (Surfi-Sculpt) that is applied to the metal uses, in the work done so far, an electron beam to move material around the surface of the metal. This produces protrusions (which TWI call ‘proggles’) and holes in the metal. The proggles and holes can be made to be any shape required and the area seen on joints in the image above took only 8 seconds to treat. Following the pre-treatment the composite is then laid up onto the metal, either with or without an additional adhesive layer, to form a Comeld joint between the two materials. Judging by the research findings available from the TWI, the Comeld joint fails at a much higher load and absorbs far more energy before failure, than a conventional joint of identical dimensions. According to Dr Smith, “The preliminary research results have been so encouraging that we are offering the technology to industry at this very early stage. The intention is that, alongside in-house development, a collaborative project (known as a Group Sponsored Project or GSP) is being set-up so that interested companies can collaborate and direct the way future research is performed. In the GSP, Comeld technology will be used in conjunction with joints and materials of interest to participating companies so that they have early access to data that is relevant to their applications” This project is expected to begin later this year. The potential applications for this technology cross all the industry sectors as composite materials and metals are used and joined in many industries. A composite component could be manufactured using the same processes as previously (e.g. RTM or vacuum infusion) but using Comeld technology a metallic edge could be applied all the way around the component during the manufacture. This metallic edge would then allow the component to be welded in place to a metallic structure.

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Composites Merit Badge for US Scouts

7th May 2004 0 comments

The M.C. Gill Corporation is to help fund development of a Composites Merit Badge for the Boy Scouts of America. Merwyn C. Gill, Chairman of the Board of M.C. Gill Corporation, said that “Working to create a Composites Merit Badge would show thousands of youths what composites are all about, introduce them to these materials and perhaps even interest them in a career in this growing field. There are Merit Badges for many other fields, so it only makes sense to work toward developing one that encourages them to learn about composites.” The San Gabriel Valley Council, Boy Scouts of America is working with M.C. Gill to create the requirements, pamphlet and related materials for the badge. The first phase in this process is meetings with a group of active Scout Leaders, Merit Badge counsellors and composites industry experts to outline a development plan. Once the requirements and materials have been refined they will be revised and retested in a variety of venues, including a demonstration at the 2005 National Jamboree. “Once we are certain that it’s completely ready to go, we will formally submit the Composites Merit Badge for consideration to the National Boy Scout organization for review. After they have had a chance to consider it, we hope that it can become a part of the national program. Learning about Composites will be a positive addition to the program and Scouting appreciates this involvement and support,” said Bob Booker, Scout Council Executive Director. Merit Badges have been part of the Boy Scout tradition since Baden-Powell first created the program nearly 100 years ago.

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AOC, Reichhold and Dow increase Resin Prices

7th May 2004 0 comments

Further to last weeks price rises, AOC, Reichhold and Dow have increased the prices of resins.

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