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Composites Industry News

News for 19 August 2005


ATK Provides Structures Housing High-Resolution Camera

19th August 2005 0 comments

Alliant Techsystems designed and produced the composite structure for the High- Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera, part of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) spacecraft launched recently aboard an Atlas V 400 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. As the largest- diameter telescopic camera ever sent to another planet, it will photograph hundreds of targeted areas in unprecedented detail, revealing secrets about the geology of Mars and candidate landing sites for future missions. The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment will photograph selected places on Mars with the most powerful telescopic camera ever built for use at a foreign planet. It will reveal features as small as a kitchen table in images covering swaths of Mars’ surface 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) wide. ATK provided strong, lightweight, precision composite camera structures for the HiRISE instrument, comprising the baffle tube, secondary mirror support structure and optical bench, designed to ensure the necessary dimensional stability required in the harsh environment of space. ATK composite technologies were also used to manufacture the 12-foot diameter heat shield assembly that surrounds the Atlas V 400 RD-180 main engine. The heat shield has been used successfully on all five Atlas V missions. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter lifted off at 7:43 AM EDT on 12 August from Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. The spacecraft will examine Martian features ranging from the top of the atmosphere to underground layering. Researchers will use it to study the history and distribution of Martian water. It will also support future Mars missions by characterizing landing sites and providing a high-data-rate communications relay. “”Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is the next step in our ambitious exploration of Mars,”” said Douglas McCuistion, director of the Mars Exploration Program in NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “”We expect to use this spacecraft’s eyes in the sky in coming years as our primary tools to identify and evaluate the best places for future missions to land.”” “”We will keep pursuing a follow-the-water strategy with Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter,”” said Dr. Michael Meyer, Mars exploration chief scientist at NASA Headquarters. “”Dramatic discoveries by Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Odyssey and the Mars Exploration Rovers about recent gullies, near-surface permafrost and ancient surface water have given us a new Mars in the past few years. Learning more about what has happened to the water will focus searches for possible Martian life, past or present.”” Dr. Richard Zurek of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., project scientist for the orbiter, said, “”Higher resolution is a major driver for this mission. Every time we look with increased resolution, Mars has said, ‘Here’s something you didn’t expect. You don’t understand me yet.’ We’re sure to find surprises.”” The orbiter will reach Mars in March 2006.

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Synthetic Gecko Foot-Hairs Lead to Reusable Adhesives

19th August 2005 0 comments

The interest of University of Akron polymer researchers in the fascinating ability of geckos to climb any surface and hang from just one toe soon could lead to advances in adhesives used in microelectronics and space applications. The UA researchers are part of a team developing synthetic hairs from carbon nanotubes that have adhesion forces 200 times higher than those observed with gecko foot-hairs. The team includes Dr. Ali Dhinojwala, UA associate professor of polymer science; UA polymer graduate student Betul Yurdumakan; and Nachiket Raravikar and professor Pulickel Ajayan from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York. The results of their work, titled “Synthetic gecko foot-hairs from multiwalled carbon nanotubes,” were recently published in the journal Chemical Communications. The research, funded by a four-year, $400,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, studies the powerful adhesion powers of geckos. The lizards’ five-toed feet are covered with microscopic elastic hairs called setae. The ends of the setae split into spatulas, which come into contact with a surface and hold the feet in place. “It is well known that insects such as beetles and reptiles such as geckos have evolved and developed this most effective adhesive system in order to survive,” Dhinojwala says. “The biological system in these creatures has perfected not only the mechanism to attach to steep vertical surfaces but also to detach at will. “We already have strong adhesives that can support large forces, and we have weak adhesives such as sticky notes that can be used many times but are not strong enough to support large forces,” he adds. “It will be a challenge to figure out how to design an adhesive that can provide a strong attachment to support a large force but at the same time have the capability of detaching itself from the surface with ease.” To achieve these objectives, the researchers are fabricating surface patterns to mimic the gecko’s setae and spatulas, Dhinojwala explains. The structure is based on multiwalled carbon nanotubes constructed on polymer surfaces. Dhinojwala says the research, which will continue with experiments with larger surface areas, could lead to improved, reusable dry adhesives that will have critical applications in microelectronics, information technology, robotics, space and other areas. Gecko photo courtesy of Steven Clark http://www.zacharoo.com

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First Production Tsunami Relief Fishing Boat in the Water: Video Presentation

19th August 2005 0 comments

The production injection moulds are complete the first sea trials of the resin injected composite boat have been undertaken for Plastech’s consortium tsunami aid and relief project for the North East area of Sri Lanka. The North East area in Sri Lanka identified the relief offer from Plastech’s consortium as an ideal project to bring new technology and practical relief to the Trincomalee district, Kinniya region in Sri Lanka. Now the production injection moulds are complete and proven with the first launch of the composite boat undertaken late last week. Mr Noor Nizam of the McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, an expatriate of this Sri Lankan region is eager to arrange shipment of the production machinery, tools and technology very shortly. Alan Harper, Plastech’s chief said “We are delighted that at least one world government and community supported relief agency has realised the benefit of the consortiums active pledges and Canada are supporting the McMaster University’s Relief Aid International with their own and their peoples charitable aid. After all the publicity given to our project in the UK it is strange that a country the other side of the Atlantic has taken up the vision this sustainable charitable programme offers”. This project will contribute to the return to livelihood of nearly 7,500 fisher families and revitalize the rural fishing industry of Kinniya and the Trincomalee district which has been severely devastated by the December 26th Tsunami disaster. Special Video Report Courtesy ITV West Country News The McMaster University group under their own charitable banner of Relief Aid International have sent their own aid workers to plan the building of a boat factory in the Kinniya region which will be equipped with the Cornish company’s production equipment supported by the start up material by their consortium members. For the present, a large building facility to accommodate all the Plastech equipments, productions moulds and raw-materials have been leased out in Kinniya from the 12 August 2005, by Relief Aid International and their local Community Based Organization (CBO), in Kinniya. On the 23 August, 27 students and 4 personnel from the McMaster University will fly to Sri Lanka on a 3 weeks field trip and will work with the local affected victims to rebuild their homes and set-up the pilot boat building facility with the help extended by Plastech TT Ltd. Plastech are responding also to helping the McMaster University group to design and build another production cell to produce the more familiar local Oru fishing boat craft using the same advanced glass fibre technology. A 3 acre block of land in Kinniya with water frontage has been allocated to the project at Crown cost by the government authorities of Sri Lanka to construct the larger production facility. It is a fact that even though 8 months have passed since the Tsunami decimation of the Sri Lankan East coast fishing communities less than 5% of boats destroyed have been recovered or replaced. Plastech are also urgently seeking air transport so that production in the new Sri Lankan boat yard may begin as soon as possible. “Maybe our government or one of our aid charities might find this now a good cause to spend a few thousand from the reported £452 million to pay for this urgent transport need” suggested Alan Harper. The members at Saltash Wesley Church are actively working to provide further funds to assist the many additional costs for local labour used in this project for which Plastech are extremely grateful. Plastech would also like to thank Boating World, Landrake, Cornwall for their continuous support, marine advice and resources.

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I See What You Mean

19th August 2005 0 comments

Lawrence Argent’s 40-foot-tall blue bear that looks as if it is peering in a window at the Colorado Convention Center, designed to evoke the idea of curiosity at what’s going on inside. From a 3-D model of a small blue bear, artist Lawrence Argent worked with Boulder-based Pixel Kitchen to create thousands of triangulations within the bear’s image to expand into a 40-foot-tall bear. Bill Kreysler of Kreysler and Associates of American Canyon, California was responsible for the full-size manufacture of the bear. “”From the 3-D computer file sent from the artist we machined segments of the surface. These segments, machined from blocks of disposable, recyclable foam, created molds into which fiberglass could be placed”, he said. “”When the fiberglass cured it was removed from the disposable mold, which was then re-machined to create the next mold, and so on until we had made as many molds from a particular block of foam as possible. I believe that we ended up making nearly 70 individual fiberglass segments to create the entire exterior shell of the sculpture.”” The segments then were assembled “”much like a 3-D jigsaw puzzle.”” Kreysler says a steel skeleton, or armature, rises inside about one third of its height, with bulkheads installed at strategic spots.

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SAMPE UK & Ireland Chapter’s Sixth Annual Technical Conference

19th August 2005 0 comments

Reflecting the continued progress in the use of lightweight materials in ever challenging applications and end uses, the key theme of the SAMPE UK and Ireland Chapter’s next Annual Technical Conference is ‘Advanced Lightweight Structures’. The Conference, which will take place at the Kings Norton Library, Cranfield University, UK on Thursday 23 February 2006, is being organised jointly by SAMPE and the Nottingham University Composites Club. According to Conference organiser Andrew Mills, the programme will provide an important opportunity to review recent advances in materials and processing in lightweight structures. “The programme will include specific sessions on Automotive, Aerospace, Deepsea and UCAV’s,” reports Mills, “and we envisage a very full day’s programme with ten to twelve invited specialist speakers, all experts in their respective fields. We have had an excellent response so far and we plan to announce a preliminary programme at the end of September, when people will have chance to register interest to attend.” Chapter Chairman Andrew Long is equally enthusiastic about the event: “The SAMPE UK & Ireland Chapter, together with Nottingham University Composites Club, has an excellent record of organising successful technical conferences and the two organisations work extremely well together in keeping members and other M&P industry professionals aware of technical advances. This, our sixth annual conference, will build on the outstanding event ‘Out-of-Autoclave Moulding’ held at East Midlands Airport in February 2005, which attracted more than 100 attendees from all over the UK and Europe.” For further information about the SAMPE UK & Ireland Chapter/Nottingham University Composites Club Conference – ‘Advanced Lightweight Structures’ contact Professor Andrew Mills at Cranfield University.

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Enduro Composites Opens New Manufacturing Facility

19th August 2005 0 comments

Enduro Composites has opened a new 120,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility in Houston, and is designed specifically for the manufacture of Enduro’s line of engineered composite products such as cable tray, structural baffle walls and specialty OEM parts. In addition to 90,000 sq. ft. specifically dedicated to pultrusion operations and fabrication, the facility features a 2,000 sq. ft. QC lab and a 2,500 sq. ft. air conditioned lounge and training room solely for the use of the plant employees. Compression molding, RTM and the Mix and Maintenance departments will each have separate and enclosed work areas. Enduro’s Tuff Span roofing and building panels will continue to be manufactured in Ft. Worth with the Vesca product line remaining in Freeport.

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Vosschemie Polyester De Moor and Cytec Sign Distribution Agreement

19th August 2005 0 comments

Cytec Surface Specialties has signed a distribution agreement with Vosschemie Polyester De Moor, one of the leading distributors of cold curing plastics in the Benelux region.

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Composite Technology Settles Litigation

19th August 2005 0 comments

Composite Technology Corporation has agreed to a 30 day continuance of its Chapter 11 plan confirmation hearing to finalize the terms of its settlement with one litigation claimant and to further settlement negotiations with others. CTC reached a settlement in principal with Ascendiant, resolving all issues among the parties. Leonard M. Shulman of Shulman Hodges & Bastian LLP, CTC’s bankruptcy counsel, stated: “We are extremely pleased that this matter has been resolved by settlement in lieu of continued litigation. The terms of the settlement must now be documented and submitted to the bankruptcy court for its approval. Creditors will receive notice of this settlement prior to the settlement hearing which we anticipate will occur in the next 30 days.” CTC filed its voluntary petition for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code bankruptcy on May 5, 2005. On the same day as its bankruptcy filing, CTC filed its proposed plan of reorganization which, if confirmed by the Bankruptcy Court, would pay its creditors in full. The bankruptcy court originally scheduled the plan confirmation hearing for September 8, 2005 and CTC has now agreed to continue this hearing for 30 days. Shulman further stated: “With the addition of the Ascendiant parties, we are very pleased that CTC will have additional support for its plan of reorganization. We believe a brief continuance of the plan confirmation hearing will prove to be very beneficial to provide the time needed to finalize the Ascendiant settlement and to continue our settlement discussions with other litigants, including Acquvest. CTC will continue working with its creditors, shareholders and all interested parties throughout this process. The proposed plan addresses all litigation claims and provides for payment in full (100%) to its creditors.” CTC’s Chairman and CEO Benton Wilcoxon added: “We are pleased to have reached a settlement with Ascendiant and look forward to further discussions with the remaining claimants. CTC remains on track to emerge from bankruptcy to continue with its business of developing, producing and marketing innovative and cost effective products including marketing its composite core electrical conductor cable for the utility industry.”

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Astris Energi To Exhibit Fuel Cell Vehicle

19th August 2005 0 comments

Astris Energi will be exhibiting a fuel cell vehicle with a carbon fibre hydrogen tank at the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) during the opening weekend festivities. The display will be part of the Hydrogen Village pavilion that will showcase leading edge fuel cell and hydrogen related technologies. On display will be Astris’ Freedom Golf Car, the world’s first alkaline fuel cell powered golf car fuelled by hydrogen. It is currently powered by Astris’ 1.0 kW Power Generator, giving the vehicle a top cruising speed of 31 kph with better acceleration, hill climbing and extended range compared with a conventional battery-powered model. The car is fuelled by a 33-litre, refillable, carbon fibre hydrogen tank that can last up to 3 days under typical usage. The hydrogen tank can be re-filled within minutes.

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Lotus Circuit Car Launch

19th August 2005 0 comments

In the build up to the Shelsley Walsh Centenary Celebration, excitement mounts as Lotus prepares the world launch of its greatly anticipated new “”Circuit Car””. The Circuit Car, which is based on the Lotus Elise Aluminium chassis with glass-fibre bodywork, has been designed and engineered exclusively for Track Day and Club Racing. Reaching 100 mph in an amazing 9.0 seconds, the lightweight, open-topped circuit car will be revealed at the oldest racing track in the world – the Shelsley Walsh Hill Climb. Coinciding with Shelsley’s Centenary, the launch of the Circuit Car will take place on day two of the celebrations, Saturday 20th August. Making its racing debut on Sunday 21st August, Tony Shute, head of product at Lotus Cars, will take to the driving seat and put the Lotus through its paces on the track. Tony commented, “The Shelsley Walsh Hill Climb Centenary Festival Meeting provides an excellent platform on which to give our exciting new car its first outing. I look forward to driving on a track which carries such rich motor-sport history and to participate in an event which brings together examples of some of the world’s finest racing vehicles.” Paul Matthews, managing director at Footman James and Shelsley Walsh sponsor, said, “As a key supporter of Club Lotus and insurance broker to many classic Lotus owners, we’re really looking forward to the unveiling of the new “Circuit Car” at Shelsley.” James Brearley, managing director of Pendragon Premier Ltd who are also sponsors of the event added, “Not only are we proud to be associated with this centenary event but we are thrilled to see a new Lotus launched, especially as we own five Lotus dealerships under our Stratstone brand.”

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