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Composites Industry News

News for January 2006


Nanoparticle Networks Reduce the Flammability of Polymer Nanocomposites

6th January 2006 0 comments

Nanoparticle networks may greatly improve flammability resistance in polymers, according to research from the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the University of Pennsylvania. Results achieved with two types of carbon nanotubes (single- and multi-walled) and with carbon nanofibres could help to eliminate trial-and-error in designing and producing nanocomposite materials with flame-retarding and other desired properties optimized for applications in areas ranging from packaging and electronics to construction and aerospace. The work appeared in the December issue of Nature Materials. Nanoparticle fillers—especially clays—have been shown to reduce the flammability of plastics and other polymers. Previous work on these nanoclay flame retardants, says NIST fire researcher Takashi Kashiwagi, indicates that the additives are most effective when they migrate to form a continuous surface layer, creating a “heat shield” on top of the more flammable polymer matrix. The shield, he explains, suppresses the “vigorous bubbling” that can occur as the matrix breaks down. However, if the plate-like nanoclay particles cluster into islands, heat escapes through cracks between them, compromising their performance as flame retardants. To get around this problem, Kashiwagi and colleagues chose to investigate carbon nanotubes and nanofibres, which tend to be narrower and longer than nanoclays. These structures also have been shown to enhance strength, electrical conductivity and other material properties. The researchers reasoned that the extended, sinuous geometry of the tiny tubes and fibres might lend itself to forming a “continuous, network-structured protective layer” that is free of cracks. When the researchers heated polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) dispersed with carbon nanotubes or nanofibres, the material behaved like a gel. In a process dictated by their type, concentration and other factors, the nano additives dispersed throughout the PMMA matrix and eventually achieved a “mechanically stable network structure.” The researchers say the networks formed as the nanocomposites underwent a change in identity, a transition from liquid to solid. The shift occurred at an optimal composition. For single-walled carbon nanotubes, top fire retardant performance was achieved when the fillers made up only 0.5 percent of the total mass of the material. For multi-walled carbon nanotubes, the gel concentration was 1 percent. Both types of nanotubes have the potential to surpass nanoclays as effective fire retardants, says NIST materials scientist Jack Douglas. Results suggest that the gel concentration also may mark the point at which other nanotube-enabled improvements in material properties are maximized, Douglas adds. The image from NIST shows the char layer formed when PMMA was filled with multi-walled carbon nanotubes. Unmodified PMMA behaves like a liquid, bubbling vigorously and leaving almost no residue.

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NEI Corporation to Develop Polymer Nanocomposites

6th January 2006 0 comments

NEI Corporation has received two contracts, one from NASA and the other from the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) to develop next generation polymer nanocomposite materials. Both programs start this month and have initial funding totalling $170,000. The focus of the program from NASA is on developing advanced silicone nanocomposite coatings for airbags that can be used on Mars Exploration Rovers. It is anticipated that the addition of NEI’s proprietary nanomaterials to silicone polymers will help reduce the weight of airbags, while maintaining or increasing the seam strength. Other space applications such as inflatable space structures, parachutes, and space suits could benefit from the technology. The program will help NEI offer new nanomaterial additives to commercial customers in the transportation field, including airbags, inflatable boats, and related applications. The OSD program will utilize similar concepts as those employed for the NASA program, but will target the ballistic resistance market. Currently, ballistic protection in optically transparent surface shields and transparent armour is provided either by thick sections of polymers, or by laminated sheets of polymer and glass. In both cases, the weight of the shield is very high. Under the OSD contract, NEI will develop new nanocomposite structures that will deliver the desired ballistic resistance with significantly less weight than the current products. These programs build upon NEI’s prior experience, which has shown that the addition of certain types of functionalized nanoparticles to commonly used thermoplastics such as PTFE and PVC, and to thermosets such as Polyurethane and Epoxy, leads to substantial improvements in wear resistance, tear strength, and modulus. Physical property enhancements have been achieved in both coatings and bulk materials. According to Dr. Ganesh Skandan, NEI’s CEO, “These two programs will enable us to strengthen our existing core competency of creating functionalized nanomaterial additives for polymeric materials and will permit us to offer improved nanomaterial solutions to our commercial and government customers around the world”.

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Composite Advantage Uses New Moulding Techniques to Offer New Product Application

6th January 2006 0 comments

Composite Advantage LLC is putting closed moulding at the fingertips of customers that do not traditionally consider composites, for large structural panels. Produced with an advanced method of vacuum infusion that incorporates a flow assistance method, these composite panels are said to be suited for manufacturers facing weight constraints for installation projects where use of traditional materials like steel or concrete is not appropriate. Because the composite panels are corrosion resistant and lighter yet stronger, the product also offers an alternative for containers, walls, floors, walkways, storage sheds, equipment pads and trench covers. In addition, the new panels can be tailored to fit customers’ individual requirements. “”Part of the new service we provide is to evaluate a customer’s problem area and develop a customized composite solution to solve that problem,”” said Scott Reeve, President of Composite Advantage. The panels feature solid laminates or sandwich construction with fibreglass skins surrounding a foam core. Composite Advantage also provides manufacturers with a new approach for Resin Transfer Moulding (RTM), RTM Light and prepreg vacuum bag processes.

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European Industrial Hemp Association Officially Registered

6th January 2006 0 comments

After 5 years of acting as an informal association, the European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA) has now been officially registered. At the general meeting on 27 November in Hürth, the board of directors and the executive committee of the association were elected unanimously. John Hobson, Hemcore Ltd. (Great Britain), became chairperson (president) of the association, Cesare Tofani, Fibranova (Italy), first deputy, and Bernd Frank, Badische Naturfaseraufbereitung GmbH (Germany) second deputy. The nova-Institut GmbH, Hürth, with its managing director Michael Karus, was assigned with the management of the EIHA, initially for one year. When it was founded, the European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA) had seven members from the EU countries Great Britain, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy, all of them primary processors of hemp (so-called fibre separation companies). There are currently another 20 membership applications on hand, and interested parties can find the application form on the EIHA web site. The statute makes a difference between “regular” and “associate” members. While any person or institution can become an associate member, “regular membership is restricted to those legal entities or companies which perform the processing of hemp straw to fibres and hurds/shives or hemp raw materials…” For the next year, the EIHA has planned a range of activities, particularly the setup of a content management system that will supply studies and background information on the cultivation, processing and utilisation of hemp via the internet. Furthermore an overview study is planned of the ecobalances for hemp products that have been conducted so far, as well as preparation of the next EIHA conference at the end of 2006. On 28 and 29 November 2005, the third International EIHA Conference took place in Cologne. This year 70 experts from 15 countries met one other in order to inform themselves about the latest developments concerning hemp and other natural fibres and to intensively participate with one another in an open and free ranging discussion. The spectrum of participants ranged from cultivation consulting, primary and further processing, trade, mechanical engineering and investors to numerous small and medium-sized enterprises and to globally operating automotive enterprises and suppliers. They all had in common that they were interested in the utilisation of hemp fibres and shives. Due to the increasing petroleum prices and the globally narrow production capacities for plastics, materials based on natural fibres are becoming increasingly interesting for industry. Particularly the representatives of the automotive and building material industry, who already have comprehensive experiences with the use of renewable resources, presented themselves as very open-minded towards increasingly banking on materials that are largely independent from petroleum price. The future processing subsidy for hemp fibres by the EU was vividly discussed. Christian Renault, managing director of AND-International (Paris) and main author of the Ernst & Young study ‘Evaluation of the Common Market Organisation for flax and hemp’ for the EU Commission, presented the most important results of the study. The experts present largely agreed to his analysis of markets, values added and prices, and supplemented the analysis with their own experiences. Hemp short fibres that are produced for technical applications such as insulation or composites have difficulties in competing with the prices of Asian import fibres such as jute and kenaf, in spite of the increasing demand. Technical hemp short fibres are produced by small regional companies that have invested a lot into processing, product development and marketing and generated a large number of jobs – at this point, the Ernst & Young study showed that the processing of flax and hemp generates four to five times more jobs than the cultivation and processing of wheat (in relation to the same area under cultivation). In addition, the regionally produced hemp materials and products have substantial ecological advantages compared to petroleum-based products. An overhasty end of the processing subsidy would endanger structures that do have considerable growth potentials in the next 5 to 10 years and are important for the preservation and creation of regional jobs, an environmentally friendly agriculture as well as the supply of ecological materials. Therefore the hemp experts supported the proposal of the study not to abolish the processing subsidy for flax and hemp short fibres in the next year, but to introduce a uniform processing subsidy (single aid) for long and short fibres. The EU Commission is expected to submit a proposal for this in the near future.

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AIMPLAS establishes Spanish Association of Composites Industries

6th January 2006 0 comments

To improve the position of the Spanish companies in the market, AIMPLAS has established AESICOM – the Agrupación Española de Industriales de Composites (Spanish Association of Composites Industries). AIMPLAS (Technological Institute for Plastics) have acted as a technological consultant and have been developing R&D&I projects (Research&Development&Innovation) for companies in the composites sector for more than a decade now. Currently they have at their disposal a pilot plant to be used exclusively for the R&D of composite materials and their transformation processes (pultrusion, RTM, infusion, filament winding, etc.) With the establishment of AESICOM, AIMPLAS also forms a part of EuCIA (European Composites Industries Association) to represent the Spanish reinforced plastics companies. The principal mission of EuCIA is to promote and represent the companies from the composites sector in Europe. To fulfil this objective EuCIA is formed by different national associations of the European member states. The principal objectives of the Spanish Association of Composites Manufacturers will be: – Promote and represent on the European level the Spanish composites and reinforced plastics companies – Defend their common interests – Promote and strengthen the contacts between its members on the national level – Exchange information, research and information of technical nature related to this activity through the creation of work groups and participation in national and international organizations and associations. – Strengthen the competitiveness of the companies by means of technological research and innovation. – Develop activities of interest for its associates, with the activities resulting in an improvement of the technological level of the companies from the sector and the attainment of a more favourable position. The first dissemination activity has been AIMPLAS’ attendance at the EQUIPLAST and EXPOQUIMIA fairs in order to make known the objectives of the Association.

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Toutenkamion Launches Composites Shelter

6th January 2006 0 comments

Toutenkamion, the French manufacturer of special purpose trucks, has launched its composites shelter for the armed forces, giving a work space of 76 square metres and designed for fast transport and set-up This shelter allows the setting of a Command post that responds to critical requirements of the French armed forced and OTAN forces. Featured with computer desks and as many telephones, up to 30 people are able to undertake high tech tasks in an exceptionally safe and comfortable environment even under the most extreme conditions anywhere on Earth. This Command post is interconnected two by two and can be connected to others to make a sophisticated extended facility that can still be rapidly moved to another site. Modern armies need this type of equipment to house the sensitive electronics used in electronics wars, pacification operations or in backing up humanitarian organisations. In 2005, Toutenkamion provided the last of 28 shelters to the French army. After setting up in the Belgian and German markets, Toutenkamion is also extending its distribution network into the UK through a partnership agreement with Angloco, which provides rescue and firefighting equipment to the British market. “4 Cinémobiles have already been delivered to British customers, including one to the Hi-Arts Council in Scotland and another to SSVC in 2002 for entertaining British troops in Kosovo. This success for our products has shown us the potential in developing the British market. An important advantage is the real synergy between Toutenkamion and Angloco; this complementarity in our products, convinced us of the benefits of joining forces”” explained Cyril Bonnaire, Toutenkamion marketing manager

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Another New International Trade Fair for Composites

6th January 2006 0 comments

Composites will be represented in its own trade fair parallel to Materialica, the 9th International Trade Fair for Material Applications, Surface Technology and Product Engineering, running from 10-12 October 2006. The show will be called Composites 2006, the same name given to the ACMA show the following week. “”As we have seen enormous growth in the composites segment, both in the numbers of exhibitors and visitors, we intend to establish this area of Materialica as an independent fair. With Composites [2006], we want to give producers of resins and additives and producers of machines and technologies the chance to join the large number of manufacturers of semifinished and components in having a professional presentation of their innovations and new products in the German-speaking area and the opening markets of Eastern Europe,”” explains Robert Metzger, Managing Director of MunichExpo GmbH. “”The aim of Composites 2006 is to provide the market with new impetus, thus promoting and intensifying the direct contact to existing and potential customers,”” Metzger continues. “”Around 90% of the visitors to this year’s MATERIALICA had decision-making competencies in the field of composites. Particularly well represented were the fields of automotive engineering, aerospace and mechanical engineering.”” The 2nd Materialica Congress “”Composites in Automotive & Aerospace”” will take place in parallel to the trade fair. After the first introduction of this event in 2005, this congress, with its industrial and applications orientation, will be repeated in 2006. The program will again be structured by the experienced team of the first composites congress. This team consists of Dr Rudolf Stauber, Head of Department for Operational Stability and Materials, BMW AG, Mr Marinus Schouten, Composites Manager, EADS, Prof Dr Klaus Drechsler, Head of the Institute of Aircraft Design at the University of Stuttgart and Prof Dr Alois Schlarb, Head of the Institut für Verbundwerkstoffe of Kaiserslautern Technical University. The one and a half day congress sets and checks trends, analyses markets and exchanges experience and knowledge. It is primarily aimed at development engineers, draftspeople and designers. Composites 2006 will take place in Hall C4 of the modern New Munich Trade Fair. The organiser expects around 150 exhibitors from Germany and overseas. At the heart of the three day, annual fair, are additives, fibres, textiles and resins, as well as innovative materials, components, machines and methods, used in many different sectors of industry. Companies such as Hexcel Composites, Becker Carbon, Cotesa, Crosslink Faserverbundtechnik, CarboTech Composites and Isovolta have already registered as exhibitors for 2006.

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Kemlite becomes Crane Composites

6th January 2006 0 comments

From the 1 January 2006, Kemlite Company Inc, the manufacturer of fibreglass reinforced plastic panels, will change its name to Crane Composites, Inc. Crane Composites will produce Kemlite Thermoset FRP Products and Zenicon Thermocomposites. In addition, Kemlite, Filon, Sequentia, Lasco, and Lampro products will continue to be promoted within the Kemlite thermoset product line. A new visual identity will be incorporated throughout the company and in promotional materials. Current brand recognition is strong and Crane Composites, Inc. intends to keep, promote and support these recognized brand product lines.

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DSM further expands US production capacity for Dyneema

6th January 2006 0 comments

DSM has made another investment in a new production line for Dyneema fibre in Greenville, North Carolina (USA). It is the third announcement in the last 12 months of new Dyneema fibre production lines at DSM’s Greenville site, following earlier decisions to build two additional fibre lines and one Dyneema UD (UniDirectional bullet resistant sheet) line. The investment will amount to several tens of millions of US dollars, and will bring the total number of fibre lines for the company to nine, with four production lines being located at the Greenville facility. DSM says that expansion of Dyneema fibre capacity follows the continued strong demand in all application areas, such as heavy marine mooring ropes, sports applications, and cut resistant garments. Due to the continuing strong demand for personal security and protection against terrorism, production in Greenville until now has had a strong focus on supplying the US army and law enforcement agencies. By adding extra multi-functional capacity to its highly integrated Greenville site, DSM says that it remains capable of meeting growing demand from all segments in which the company is active. The new line is expected to come on stream in mid 2007, with construction planned to start this month. “Investing in further growth of Dyneema in the US contributes to the targets set in our new strategy Vision 2010 – Building on Strengths”, said Jan Zuidam, deputy chairman of the DSM Managing Board. “This additional investment fully supports our growth and innovation strategy, while contributing to improving the balance between our sales by origin and by destination.” The markets for Dyneema continue to show growing demand. BP Shipping, for example − a long-time satisfied user of mooring ropes with Dyneema − have been using Dyneema-based ropes on North Sea shuttle tankers since 1997. BP Shipping also recently also selected Dyneema-based mooring ropes on their newly built LNG carriers.

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DuPont Increases Kevlar Production Capacity

6th January 2006 0 comments

In response to growing market demand, DuPont is increasing its Kevlar supply capacity with an expansion project at the Maydown, Northern Ireland site, which is scheduled to come on stream in 2006 “Global demand for DuPont Kevlar has soared with the need for safety and security worldwide. This increased capacity expansion is a critical step in growing the Kevlar business, maintaining our leadership in the performance fibres market and delivering the innovation customers expect from us. This increase is another one in a series of expansions that demonstrate how much value customers around the world have for DuPont Kevlar. Increasing production capacity will help us continue to meet the growing needs of our customers in all regions and across the entire Kevlar product line,” said Jeroen B. Jacobs, who recently became business manager for the Kevlar Life Protection business in Europe, Middle East and Africa. Kevlar is also marking its 40th anniversary this year. One innovation in DuPont Life Protection portfolio is shown by the development of M5, an ultra-high-strength performance fibre. As a next generation material in protective applications, M5 is said to contain unique attributes of strength, stiffness, and resistance to high temperatures. While still under development, the material is said to have a range of potential uses to enhance protection of military, law enforcement, fire fighters and industrial workers, and also to address high-performance industrial applications.

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