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Composites Industry News

News for October 2004


Aston Martin Unleash their Fastest Production Yet: Vanquish S V12

4th October 2004 0 comments

The fastest production model ever to be built by Aston Martin made its world debut at the Paris Motor Show last week. With a maximum speed in excess of 200mph (321 km/h) and a 6.0 litre V12 engine developing 520 horsepower, the composite bodied Vanquish S has been designed to deliver even greater performance, complemented by subtle suspension and steering changes and a number of interior and external style revisions. “”The Vanquish is our flagship model and the standard 460bhp will continue to be built,”” said Aston Martin CEO, Dr Ulrich Bez. “”However, this derivative makes the car even more exceptional. The latest Vanquish S is not only the fastest Aston Martin ever, but it is the best handling too. It is the ultimate high-performance Aston Martin.”” Subtle differences on the Vanquish S not only improve the appearance but also enhance performance. All the exterior body panels are constructed from aluminium with each individual panel hand tailored to the central structure to ensure a perfect panel fit. Every carefully detailed feature provides graphic evidence of the painstaking craftsmanship and quality, which is invested in its construction at Aston Martin’s Newport Pagnell site in Buckinghamshire. The Sports Dynamics suspension, steering and braking package is now standard on the Vanquish S. This includes stiffer springs and dampers and shorter steering arms. Engine enhancements include new cylinder heads with fully machined inlet ports and combustion chambers to improve airflow, revised engine mapping and new fuel injectors. The overall interior design is a subtle blend of traditional, classic and modern materials with Bridge of Weir leather upholstery matched to contemporary metal interior fittings and finishes. A number of detailed improvements have been made to the interior of the Vanquish S to enhance the overall appeal. The body is an extruded aluminium and carbon fibre bonded monocoque with composite front and rear crash structures and aluminium skin panels. “”The Vanquish S V12 is a combination of state-of-the-art aerospace technology and hand craftsmanship,”” said Dr Bez. “”It is the flagship model of a confident and growing company that is proud to display its heritage but is also determined to make the most technologically modern and inspirational sports cars in the world.”” With the capacity to continue to turn heads, the design of the Vanquish is already established as a modern classic. Since its launch in 2001, the Vanquish has proved to be a huge success for Aston Martin with over 1500 cars built.

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Locking in Repeatable Accuracy with Light RTM Moulds

4th October 2004 0 comments

Plastech’s M24 clamp/dowels bring further technological advances to LRTM. The need for accurate location on the x and y axis of LRTM matched moulds is often overlooked when building production tooling. It can be argued quite correctly that no location device is necessary in circumstances where a mould with a deep draw cavity is sufficiently deep to provide accurate x, y location. This is due to the voluminous style of fibre employed, and when loaded between the two matched mould halves it creates an equal pressure that is exerted globally. This positions the mould faces in equilibrium providing a natural positional accuracy. This argument is not true however if the mould’s draft is not equal on all sides, or in another case where it has very little depth of draft. For example: A truck hood shape would have three sides of reasonable draft depth, but the fourth side would be ‘open’. Equally a flat door skin mould would have almost no depth of draft. In the truck hood example, when closing the mould there would always be the likelihood of the back half of the mould sliding out of true registration towards the ‘open’ edge, as there would be little or no fibre resistance to prevent it from doing so. With the flat door skin example, by the very fact that the mould has little or no draft, the mould could easily be closed out of line, thus creating the prospect of unpredictable peripheral resin fill characteristics. To overcome the possibility of these scenarios it is wise to design the mould with location pins more commonly known as mould-tool dowel locators to avoid such inaccuracies. We see a variety of such devices and designs for mould location – some are built into the mould flange in the form of moulded, shaped cones, whilst others prefer flange corner angle protrusions locating on the corresponding contra mould half. Plastech have for many years been manufacturing the more accurate, heavier duty, steel framed RTM moulds and many applications have demanded repeatable accuracy able to hold better than 0.1mm tool location. With this background it has been proven that some of this technology has now found a place in the manufacture of LRTM moulds. The use of Plastech’s proprietary M24 clamp/dowel station is found to be the most cost effective method to not only locate precisely the matched moulds, but also to provide a very effective and fast preinjection clamp fixing. Unlike RTM moulds that required the clamp/dowel locators positioned every 600mm around the mould edge, it has been found that one set every 3 – 4 metres of mould edge is sufficient. As larger LRTM mould designs are fitted with a light steel edge frame it is a simple task to fit the heavy duty clamp/dowel sets to this frame at the appropriate locations. As an example of this technique a mould with a peripheral flange length of 7 metres has proved that just two clamp dowels are sufficient to provide both a high x, y location accuracy, and the initial clamping force required before flange vacuum is applied, without the need to fit further latch clamps to the remaining flange edges. To further provide a service for LRTM mould builders, Plastech now offer the CNC machined M24 clamp/dowel sets at a reduced price, with this proven piece of equipment now costing no more than the simpler latch clamp, which although giving a means of clamping, does not provide any form of mould location. At these low purchase prices the M24 clamp/dowels are highly cost effective, bringing further technological advances to LRTM.

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Sensor Products Issue New Sensor Film Technology

8th October 2004 0 comments

New Pressurex measures intrerfacial stress on composite structures At Booth 1886, Sensor Products were providing samples of Pressurex, a thin sensor film that carefully maps and measures the amount of interfacial stress exerted on honeycomb cores, composite layups and bonded surfaces within composite structures. Pressurex allows the engineer to see how surface stresses are distributed, highlighting inconsistencies and misregistration in composite parts. Other applications for Pressurex include determination of press planarity in lamination processes, monitoring of vacuum bagging pressures, confirmation of pressure uniformity on wound filaments parts and calibration of tools and equipment. Pressurex comes in the form of a large thin clear Mylar sheet, physically similar in appearance to a sheet of paper. When placed between impacting or mating surfaces, the film instantaneously and permanently changes colour. This colour change is a direct result of the specific amount of pressure applied. Comparison of colour variations to a colour correlation chart (conceptually similar to interpreting Litmus paper) can help determine precise pressure magnitude (in PSI or kg/cm2).

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AGY Launches Wind Energy Initiative and Expands Glass Manufacturing Capacity

8th October 2004 0 comments

AGY is to launch a significant product and market development project to provide value for the growing application of composites in wind energy. The company says the project is specifically targeting high-performance reinforcements for large blades wth AGY Market Development Manager Xavier Gambert being named to lead the project. “With steady growth in blade installation and a focus on larger and more efficient blade designs, the market is actively seeking new reinforcement materials that exceed the capabilities of today’s fibres,” says Douglas J. Mattscheck, AGY president and chief executive officer. “Large blades require higher performance materials than the market has readily available today,” says Gambert. “We believe our unique glass and size chemistries will provide the performance needed, and we are actively partnering with current and potential customers to bring these products to the global market.”

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Saint Gobain Issue New Glass Reinforcements and Outline Expansion Plans

8th October 2004 0 comments

Saint-Gobain are promoting a number of new rovings and reinforcements at Booth 1019 along with announcing details of a new joint glass reinforcement facility by their Vetrotex division and Owens Corning in Mexico. Saint-Gobain Technical Fabrics are offering a full line of reinforcements for closed mould processes, including a 100% glass fibre reinforcement and a combination mat with a polypropylene core. The new Multimat reinforcement combines outer layers of chopped glass fibres that are stitched to a drapable knitted glass fibre core. Multicore reinforcement is a chopped strand mat stitched to both sides of a polypropylene core offering improved performance for closed mould processes. Saint-Gobain Vetrotex has introduced a high-strength thermoset chopped strand reinforcement designed for improving performance in bulk moulding compound (BMC) processes. Vetrotex claim that the 979 chopped strand offers higher physical properties, excellent pigmentation, low static and fuzz, bright white coloration, and excellent dry flow characteristics to accommodate continuous mixing processes. The sizing is specifically formulated for maximum compatibility with polyester and vinyl ester resin systems and can be used in a wide variety of applications. Saint-Gobain Vetrotex also introduced new weight packaging for RO99 single-end direct rovings, increasing the packages from 37 to 33lbs, with the changes designed to reduce end-user material handling and waste disposal costs. Saint Gobain Vetrotex outlined details of a the construction of a joint glass reinforcement facility with Owens Corning in Tlaxcala, Mexico. Saint Gobain said that the construction is still on schedule, with the first product expected to be available in early 2005. The new facility will be called Violet Reinforcements, the colour violet being the result of mixing blue (the colour of Saint-Gobain) with red, (the colour of Owens Corning). “We’re anxiously awaiting the start-up,” says Tom Martin, Vetrotex Director of Marketing. “In order to meet strong North American reinforcement demand we’ve been supplementing Wichita Falls production with imports from other Vetrotex facilities around the world,” he adds. The additional capacity of the Violet plant will help to meet growth in demand in the North American market. “This growth has outstripped the available capacity in the United States. Violet will reduce the need for imports, and will offset demand with product that can be produced and delivered in a more economical fashion,” says Martin. Saint-Gobain Group reported strong growth in the first half of 2004. The Reinforcements Division saw an upturn in the second quarter as it countered the effects of price contraction in 2003. Consolidated sales for the Saint-Gobain Group came to €15,696 million in the first half of 2004, representing an increase of 7.1% after a negative currency effect of 2.4%. Saint-Gobain Group consolidated net income for the first half of 2004 amounted to €487 million, an increase of 3.6% on the same period of 2003. Apart from the Pipe Division, all of the Group’s divisions reported sales growth in first-half 2004, with the majority picking up pace in the second quarter.

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Ashland Introduce New Resins and Support the Buckeye Bullet Towards New Speed Record

8th October 2004 0 comments

Ashland Composite Polymers, a division of Ashland Inc. demonstrated a number of new resins at booth 718, and support the first electric car towards a new land speed record.

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National Composite Centre Showcases Long Fibre Reinforced Thermoplastics

8th October 2004 0 comments

The National Composite Center (NCC) showcased its key technologies including its proprietary Litecast along with developments in Long Fibre Thermoplastics (LFT) at Booth 2016 at Composites 2004. In addition to displaying LFT and Litecast parts, visitors were able to see first hand examples of NCC’s Rapid Fibre Preforming and closed moulding expertise. In a special demonstration, the Center will use a high speed infusion process and reusable vacuum bag for closed moulding of a truck bumper. NCC is a comprehensive resource for closed moulding technology including Vacuum Infusion and Resin Transfer Moulding (RTM) processes. As part of its development and prototype work, the Centre has created bagging techniques that eliminate tedious handwork yet deliver consistency and repeatability. In addition to its Rapid Fibre Preforming and closed moulding technology, the Center will highlight its patented Litecast technology, a patented process that gives manufacturers the ability to use integral metal attachments on composite structures. Litecast is an alternative to mechanical fastening and adhesive systems which add extra labour costs and reduce the strength of composite products. The Center is leading a collaborative team to develop manufacturing technology for near-term commercialization of LFT products for transportation, military and industrial applications. These projects will accelerate the development of next generation LFT structures. NCC has implemented equipment to incorporate new LFT materials and develop new processes. The Center’s LFT equipment line-up can also be rented for customer demonstration projects. NCC has also teamed with 2Phase Technologies, Inc. to offer companies custom manufacturing at the cost of mass production. NCC has purchased a Rapid Tooling System (RTS) 2500 from 2Phase to promote the technology and demonstrate its capabilities. A small moulding unit will be available for visitors to see at NCC’s booth.

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M.C. Gill Presented with Lifetime Achievement Award at Composites 2004

8th October 2004 0 comments

The Winners for the 12th Annual Awards for Composites Excellence Product Showcase and Competition have just been announced at the ACMA Composites 2004 Show earlier today. Technical Innovation for Corrosion Application Award: Strongwell – Bristol Division for their entry FRP Wale System for Sheet Piling. The Technical Innovation for Corrosion Application Award is sponsored by Ashland Chemicals. Tim Pepper of Ashland presented the award. Colour Innovation Award: Sabrex Water Filter Housing moulded by Continental Structural Plastics, compounded by Moulding Products. The Colour Innovation Award is sponsored by Plasticolors and was presented by Plasticolors’ President, and ACMA board member Steve Walling.

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Vipel Helps Put a Squeeze on Composites Technology

8th October 2004 0 comments

Vipel F737 isophthalic polyester from AOC helped Plasticos Industriales of Tampico, S.A. (PITSA) put an extraordinary squeeze play on a 350,000-gallon (1.3 million-litre) composite tank.

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Successful Partnership for Twintex Mountain Rescue Stretcher

8th October 2004 0 comments

New Twintex mountain rescue stretcher made out of Twintex has been developed in an all-French collaborative project.

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