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Composites Industry News

News for November 2004


UCLA Chemists Discover Nano-Fibre Welding in Response to Camera Flash

5th November 2004 0 comments

Chemists from UCLA have discovered that an ordinary camera flash instantaneously welds together nanofibres made of the synthetic fibre, polyanilin, made in either a conducting or an insulating form. The nano-scale discovery entitled “flash-welding” could have potential large scale applications, especially in areas such as chemical sensors, separation membranes, and nano devices. “”We used an ordinary 35-millimetre camera, but you could also use a laser, or any other high-intensity light source,”” said Richard B. Kaner, UCLA professor of inorganic chemistry and materials science and engineering, and a member of the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA. “”I was very surprised,”” Kaner said. “”My graduate student, Jiaxing Huang, decided to take some pictures of his polyaniline nanofibres one evening when he heard a distinct popping sound and smelled burning plastic. Jiaxing recalled a paper that we had discussed during a group meeting reporting that carbon nanotubes burned up in response to a camera flash. By adjusting the distance of the camera flash to his material he was able to produce smooth films with no burning, making this new discovery potentially useful.”” The camera flash induces a chemical reaction; it starts a chain reaction in which the tiny nanofibres interact and cross-link, producing heat, which leads to more spontaneous cross-linking across the entire surface of the nanofibres, welding them together, Kaner said. Unlike carbon nanotubes, which burn up, this material is thermally absorbent and can dissipate the heat well enough so that it does not burn. “”We can envision welding other materials together as well,”” Kaner added. “”One way to do this is to take two blocks of a conventional polymer and insert polyaniline nanofibres between them, then induce the cross-linking reaction to produce enough heat to weld the polymer blocks together. We can weld polyaniline to itself or to another polymer or potentially use it to join conventional polymers together.”” Because only the part exposed to light welds together, chemists can create patterns by covering sections that they do not want welded; they can control what parts weld together. Kaner’s research team searched for whether any conventional techniques have this same welding property. They found a recent commercial process called laser welding, now used in the electronics industry, in which a laser beam is used to weld together conventional polymers. “”The trouble with laser welding,”” Kaner said, “”is that lasers generally have a small cross-section and consume a lot of power. Our research has the potential of revolutionizing this process.”” Nanofibres have high surface areas and important properties, from sensing to flash welding. “”This shows why nano is important,”” Kaner said. “”Here’s a good example of where nano materials possess a property that conventional materials do not have.”” Kaner and Huang were the first chemists to produce large quantities of pure polyaniline nanofibres, which can also be used for sensors – findings they published last year in collaboration with Dr. Bruce Weiller and Shabnam Virji at Aerospace Corp. The nanofibres have a much greater response in a shorter time than sensors made with conventional polyaniline. Jiaxing Huang has started a UC Berkeley postdoctoral fellowship. The research is funded by the Microelectronics Advanced Research Corp. Optical microscope images show that flash welding through a copper grid reproduces the grid pattern on a polyaniline nanofibre film.

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UV Composites Group Formed by RadTech

5th November 2004 0 comments

RadTech, the only North American trade association dedicated to the advancement of UV (ultraviolet) curing technology, recently expanded its organization by adding a Composites Focus Group. The group is dedicated to aiding in the safe adoption of UV technology in the composites industry through education, information, assistance and the promotion of UV to a wide range of industries including automotive, marine, aerospace, military, recreational vehicles, sporting goods and household products. UV curing is a proven alternative to other traditional means of preparing composite resins and gel coats. UV offers manufacturers faster curing, material savings, less scrap and the significant reduction of hazardous emissions linked to traditional curing processes. The composites focus group is headed by Paul Mills, President of UVPowerhouse, who notes that “this is an extremely exciting development for UV since it’s role is not only in aiding in the development of new coatings like gel coats, but in the actual composite manufacturing process by replacing the traditional peroxide cure mechanism with UV. The results to date indicate that UV is an effective alternative to help manufacturers become environmentally compliant, and do so with greater speed and efficiency.” RadTech is cooperating with other trade groups in this effort, including the American Composite Manufacturers Association (ACMA), the largest composites organization in the country with over 1200 members. RadTech is sponsoring a UV cure session at ACMA’s annual Composites show, Composites 2004, October 6 through 9, 2004 in Tampa, Florida. Future plans include joint cooperation in the RadTech UV/EB West educational conference to be held in February 2005 in Los Angeles. “California is a particularly important place to deliver the UV message” explains Mickey Fortune, the RadTech’s Senior Marketing Director, “since the state is usually the first to adopt tighter regulations which prompt industry to look towards UV as a potential solution.”

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Teijin’s Fibre Business Profit Doubles

5th November 2004 0 comments

Operating income from the Synthetic Fibres business of Japan’s Teijin Ltd. soared to 5.82 billion Yen (55 million USD) in the first six months of this financial year, almost double the figure for the first half a year ago. Sales from the business increased by 11% to 133.2bn Yen. in the six months ended Sept. 30, 2004, while operating income climbed 99.4% from 2.92bn. to 5.82bn Yen. led by the industrial fibres segment. Teijin comments that sales of textile fibres were hampered by dwindling consumption in its home market and soaring raw material and energy costs. Industrial fibre sales, on the other hand, were firm, led principally by Twaron para-aramid fibres and carbon fibres. The company said that it had increased selling prices of textile fibres and implemented “”innovative”” cost cutting measures to ameliorate rising raw material prices and that these efforts had yielded steady results. Sales of higher-value added products such as Ecopet, Teijin’s polyester fibre made from recycled polyethylene terepthalate (PET), increased. Brisk demand for ballistic applications and expanding use in in friction materials kept Twaron para-aramid manufacturing at full capacity, said Teijin, whilst a sharp increase in European demand saw a strong recovery in carbon fibre sales. Profitability of the industrial polyester business was hit by rising raw materials costs despite strong demand from the automotive sector. Teijin’s strategy for its fibres businesses is to expand its industrial fibre operations whilst at the same looking to time cut costs and increase manufacturing efficiencies in its textile fibres sector. The company says that it is considering “”drastic actions in certain persistently unprofitable businesses”” in the textile fibres sector.

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Mitsui Chemicals to Boost Automotive PP Compounds Capacity in Thailand

5th November 2004 0 comments

Japan’s Mitsui Chemicals is to increase the production capacity of polypropylene compounds for automotive applications at its Grand Siam Composites Co. (GSC) to meet the expanding demand in Southeast Asia. GSC is a joint venture company established in February 1996, with MCI and Thailand’s Cementhai Chemicals Co., Ltd. (CCC) being the major shareholders, with MCI and CCC holding a 48% and 46% interest, respectively. MCI positions automotive PP compounds business as one of the core business in its Petrochemicals sector. In the latest move, GSC is scheduled to ramp up its automotive PP compounds capacity by 8,000 tons, to 48,000 ton/yr. Construction work for the expansion is to start in February 2005, for completion in June the same year. It is MCI’s expectation that the demand for the PP material in Thailand will continue to increase significantly in the future. As Japanese automotive manufacturers are accelerating their globalization, Thailand is on its way to playing an extremely significant role in Southeast Asia. Because Thailand is not only enlarging its domestic automobile supply but also serving as the exporting base for the ASEAN countries, automotive production in the country is projected to continue growing, to exceed 1 million units in 2005, and hit 1.8 million units by 2010. It is with such a backdrop that MCI’s plans to upgrade the production setup and boost capacity at GSC this time.

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Ashland Purchase Derakane Epoxy Resin Business from Dow

5th November 2004 0 comments

Ashland Composite Polymers has expanded its technology assets by signing an agreement to purchase the Derakane epoxy vinyl ester resin business from The Dow Chemical Company in a transaction valued at approximately $92 million (USD).

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Kadant Composites Issue Series of Lightweight, Durable Composite Roofing Products

5th November 2004 0 comments

Kadant Composites will add roofing products to its growing line of composite building products, with the introduction of GeoTile, GeoSlate and GeoShake. Kadant Composites intends to unveil this new family of roofing products at the International Builders’ Show in January 2005, in time for the spring 2005 home-improvement season. Kadant Composites’ latest offering will complement their GeoDeck composite decking and railing system, known in the industry for its fade-resistant and aesthetically pleasing qualities. “The two biggest advantages to our composite roofing product line are their ease of installation, and fade resistance,” explains F. John Long, vice president of sales and marketing for Kadant Composites. “Standard tile and slate roofing is very heavy and brittle and breaks very easily in the process of transporting, installing, and maintaining it. In fact, it’s common for there to be an allowance of 10% breakage in shipment with standard tile and slate, which adds to the overall cost. GeoSlate, for instance, is only 245 pounds per square, much lighter than real slate, and looks terrific on the roof.” “The UV-protected polymer contained in GeoTile, GeoSlate, and GeoShake make them very tough and fade resistant, important qualities for products that must survive and look good over many years of constant exposure to the elements.” GeoTile, GeoSlate, and GeoShake are all very different looking roofing products matching the differing aesthetic preferences of homeowners across the country. All three products are long-lived, fade resistant, environmentally safe and recyclable, and exceed minimums for strength, water absorption, freeze-thaw, dimensions, installed weight, and fire resistance. GeoTile weighs just 315 pounds per square, 1/3 the weight of clay or concrete tile, while GeoSlate and GeoShake weighing 246 and 225 pounds respectively per square, less than 1/10 that of heavyweight slate. Recent news reports have affirmed that Kadant is jettisoning its composite-building products unit in Bedford, after the division dragged down third-quarter operating earnings by $5.7 million. The Chief executive, William Rainville confirmed this by stating: “”Most of the composites loss was due to $4.6 million of warranty expense primarily related to a new problem concerning excessive oxidation that affects the integrity of the plastic used in some of our decking products,”” said William Rainville, chief executive of Kadant, in a prepared statement. “”We have decided to sell the composites business, and are in the process of evaluating potential buyers.”” Despite third-quarter sales increasing 16 percent to $53.3 million, the company had a net loss of just under $500,000, down from a $2.7 million profit last year. The company first reported the oxidization problem last year and said it leads to GeoDeck materials contracting over time. Despite the problem, composites sales increased 33 percent in the third quarter to $6.8 million. In the fourth quarter, Kadant plans to list Kadant Composites as a discontinued operation, and said the accounting move will lower its revenue outlook to between $40 million and $42 million. The company said it plans to potentially make acquisitions or repurchase stock with its $77 million cash balance. Kadant said also it is reviewing the possibility of restructuring a European subsidiary. The company said the market is better in China, where it recently received a $4 million order and is waiting on letters of credit or deposits for $9 million more in orders. Kadant Composites Inc.’s GeoDeck products are used to create household decks. Made from recycled fibre, they include boards, railings, posts, balusters, trim and other items.

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Composites Industry Faces Additional Resin Price Increases

5th November 2004 0 comments

A number of resin price increases have been made this week from Resolution Speciality Materials, AOC Resins, Reichhold, Interplastic, Cook Composites and Polymers, Ashland and Ticona.

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Huntsman to Restructure European Performance Products Division

5th November 2004 0 comments

Huntsman is to restructure the European surfactants business of its Performance Products division. The company said the reorganization was part of an on-going effort to carefully examine all aspects of the surfactants business in order to keep it viable in an increasingly competitive environment.

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Superior Plug Assist Tooling Material to Be Available Early Next Year

5th November 2004 0 comments

Cyclics Corporation will supply its new CBT 200 resin to Emerson & Cuming Composite Materials, Inc. (ECCM) to create a superior plug-assist thermoforming material to be available in early 2005. The new product, known as Eccolite Ultra Syntactic Foam, has several advantages in both the production of thermoforming tools, part quality and manufacturing efficiency to moulders. The material will be available from ECCM in rods, blocks and sheets to be machined into thermoforming tools used in plastic vacuum forming operations. Eccolite Ultra is dust free during machining which eliminates airborne health hazards to toolmakers and does not get into machine tool bearings. The new product can also produce superior surface finishes enabling improved part quality, especially on clear plastics. Additionally, Eccolite Ultra can withstand higher temperatures than conventional syntactic foams allowing moulders to run tools hotter and faster than before. “Eccolite Ultra will run at higher temperatures than conventional syntactic foams, so processors can run their machines faster and cut cycle times,” said Jim Teague, VP of Sales & Marketing for ECCM. “Compared to the polyamide materials on the market today, the CBT resin-based plugs can be shined, making for excellent transparent packaging.”

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2005 Composite Catapult Competition Gets Go-Ahead

5th November 2004 0 comments

The Board of EPTA is pleased to announce the 2nd Composite Catapult Competition to be held between the 6th and 8th of July 2005 in the Netherlands. This event is sponsored by several EPTA Members, with the primary sponsors being PPG Industries, Johns Manville and Fibreforce Composites.

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