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Composites Industry News

News for July 2006


Aging of Composite Aircraft Structures

2nd July 2006 0 comments

Most of the aging aircraft studies have focused on metallic structures, but with the increasing use of composites in primary aircraft structures, it is crucial to address aging concerns for composite components.

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JEC Launches Calls for Candidates

2nd July 2006 0 comments

Any company involved in the use of composite materials can participate as a speaker at one of the six User Forums or by competing in the JEC Innovation Awards programme during the next JEC Composites Show.

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Bilsing Improves Performance using CompoTech’s Carbon Fibre Tubes

2nd July 2006 0 comments

Bilsing Automation, a German-headquartered manufacturer of robots for automated plants, is using CompoTech carbon fibre structural tubes in their robots, and all future Bilsing projects will feature them as standard. Until recently, aluminium or steel robotic components have been standard in the automation industry. In 2005, Bilsing started working with CompoTech to utilise the benefits composites could bring to their products, to improve their own processes and those of their end customers. CompoTech has developed a unique process which enables them to manufacture structural tubes in custom shapes and sizes out of ultra high modulus pitch carbon fibre. Due to this higher elastic modulus, the vibration experienced with the aluminium booms and grippers can be reduced significantly, if not removed completely. “Our clients typically experience a 10-20% increase in productivity when using robots with carbon fibre booms,” says Alfred Bilsing, CEO of Bilsing Automation and veteran of the automation industry. “Our approach is to look at every aspect of the solution we provide to our clients – from design and engineering to materials to customer support – and see where we can add value to their process. A figure of 10-20% improved productivity is considerable by anyone’s standards and confirms that we made the right choice by working with CompoTech.” Indeed, Bilsing is now researching how more CompoTech carbon fibre tubes can be used in their automation solutions, particularly for their automotive clients.

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SEER-DFM Receives Award for Technical Merit

2nd July 2006 0 comments

At the CAI Final Technical Review, held in April, U.S. Air Force CAI Program Manager John Russell acknowledged Galorath Incorporated’s SEER-DFM(TM) with the composites plug-in as one of the three most significant technology transitions that occurred as a result of the program since its inception in 1996. The Composites Affordability Initiative (CAI) is a complex initiative focused on achieving the revolutionary vision of establishing the confidence to fly affordable integrated/bonded primary structures by advancing technologies across a wide spectrum of aerospace disciplines. Additionally, the program had a goal to dramatically reduce the cost of composites used in airframe structures. “”We are quite honoured at the recognition that was given to the composites plug-in for SEER-DFM. More importantly, we are honoured by its adoption by our customers and the accolades that they bestow upon the software in its everyday application to their projects,”” said Joe Falque, product director for Galorath Incorporated. “”We have continued to enhance the product, adding significant new capabilities to provide reliable estimates for manufacturing costs as well as design and producibility guidance to achieve the most efficient and affordable designs possible.”” The CAI Cost Analysis Team and Galorath Incorporated partnered to develop a composites modelling plug-in to the SEER-DFM design-for-manufacturability tool after examining other design tools and determining that they were not accurate enough for their purposes or required extensive inputs. CAI team engineers decided that the SEER-DFM process-based approach was the most practical because it offered the best mix of accuracy, detail, speed, security and configuration control. The resulting plug-in provides designers with a method for quickly and accurately evaluating the cost of alternate composite materials and manufacturing processes. SEER-DFM with the composites plug-in is now in extensive use throughout the aerospace industry around the world. At the time the plug-in was developed, the CAI team consisted of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, the Air Force Air Vehicles Directorate, The Navy’s Office of Naval Research, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and General Electric Aircraft Engines. The composites plug-in for SEER-DFM provides a direct cost model, which includes over 25 existing and emerging composite fabrication and assembly processes, as well as state-of-the-art metal processes such as high speed machining and super plastic forming-w-diffusion bonding. As a result, engineers can perform an increased number of trade studies in a shorter period of time. This reduces costs and helps speed identification of the most affordable composite structural concepts with greater dependability than was previously possible. CAI team engineers and other customers have offered enthusiastic reviews; some team members have reported a significant impact in reducing costs of composite structures.

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Pentair Expands China Market Penetration through Manufacturing and Distribution Joint Venture

2nd July 2006 0 comments

Pentair has acquired 70 percent of the equity of Beijing Jieming Tiandi Environmental Equipment Co., Ltd., a leading Chinese manufacturer of fibreglass-reinforced plastic pressure tanks, disc filters, valve and systems used in water filtration, softening, and systems applications. “”Through this transaction, Pentair Water gains greater local market knowledge and engineering capabilities for commercial and industrial systems integration initiatives in China, and significantly expands its access to an effective distribution network of more than 150 engineering product companies,”” said Richard Cathcart, Pentair vice chairman. “”Further, we will secure new products including disk filtration systems and low-cost mechanical valves and tanks tailored to the systems integration segment and to China’s local market needs.”” The joint venture will include sales offices in Yixing, Shanghai, Jinan, Guangdong (Dongguan), and Xi’an in China.

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Yokohama Rubber Receives Certification for Prepreg for Fairings on A380

2nd July 2006 0 comments

Yokohama Rubber has earned a certification from Airbus for prepreg for A380 fairings, to become the first Japanese manufacturer to be eligible to supply prepreg for Airbus aircraft. Yokohama’s prepreg for the A380 is epoxy resin reinforced with carbon fibre, for the fairings installed under the wings where they meet the fuselage. The wing fairings on the A380 comprise honeycomb cores sandwiched between panels of fibre-reinforced epoxy. Reduced environmental impact and simplified moulding are said to heighten the appeal of the prepreg developed by Yokohama for the A380. Yokohama also supplies an extensive range of components and materials for aircraft, and is the sole supplier of drinking-water tanks and lavatory waste-water tanks for the A380. The company is also working to secure certifications for prepreg for A380 components besides fairings.

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Movies Show Nanotubes Bend

2nd July 2006 0 comments

In an exciting advance in nanotechnology imaging, Rice University scientists have discovered a way to use standard optical microscopes and video cameras to film individual carbon nanotubes. The movies show that nanotubes can be excited by individual molecules of water and made to bend. “”Nanotubes are fairly stiff, and when they are long enough, the bombardment by the surrounding water molecules makes them bend in harmonic shapes, just like the string of a guitar or a piano,”” said lead researcher Matteo Pasquali, associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and chemistry, and co-director of Rice’s Carbon Nanotechnology Laboratory. The results, which are due to appear in an upcoming issue of Physical Review Letters, were published online June 23. Pasquali said the analogy with stringed instruments doesn’t completely fit with the nanoscale world. Unlike the guitar string, for example, the carbon nanotube is plucked randomly in many places at the same time. Also, it cannot resonate like the guitar string because the nanotube has too little mass, and its vibrations die quickly because it’s surrounded by viscous liquid. Carbon nanotubes are hollow, hair-like strands of pure carbon that are 100 times stronger than steel but weigh only one sixth as much. Nanotubes are one nanometer, or one billionth of a meter, wide. Human hair, by comparison, is about 80,000 nanometers wide. Nanotubes tend to clump together. To isolate individual tubes, Pasquali and doctoral student Rajat Duggal, now a research engineer at General Electric Co., put clumps of tubes into a mixture of water and a soap-like surfactant called sodium dodecyl sulphate, or SDS. When the nanotube clumps were broken apart with ultrasonic sound waves, the SDS surrounded the individual nanotubes and held them apart, in the same way laundry detergent surrounds and separates dirt particles in the wash. In order to see individual nanotubes with a standard optical microscope, like those found in most biological laboratories, Pasquali and Duggal added a common red fluorescent dye that’s often used to stain cells. The dye, which attached itself to the SDS surrounding each nanotube, glows brightly enough to be seen with the naked eye under a microscope. “”I had been working on fluorescence visualization of DNA, and other students in the lab were working on nanotubes,”” Duggal recalled. “”A colleague was disposing of nanotube suspensions after an experiment, and I asked them to spare me a vial so I could try them with an optical microscope. I thought of decorating the nanotubes with a fluorescent dye that would prefer to be with the SDS rather than the water, and when I looked under the microscope – to my delight – I found bright dancing nanotubes.”” Duggal said scientists have used electron microscopes to observe the underdamped vibrations of nanotubes in vacuum, but his and Pasquali’s technique gives scientists the ability to see how nanotubes behave in liquids in real time. Pasquali and Duggal videotaped dozens of nanotubes at 30 frames per second. A frame-by-frame analysis of the tapes revealed harmonic bending in several nanotubes that were 3-5 microns long and showed that the measured amplitude of the bending motion is consistent with earlier predictions of Rice materials scientist Boris Yakobson, professor of mechanical engineering and materials science and of chemistry. Pasquali said the method works with other surfactants and it may be useful for life scientists who want to find out how nanotubes interact with cells, biomolecules and other biological entities. “”Our method doesn’t provide the sensitivity or precision you get with the infrared, single-nanotube imaging methods developed last year by Rice chemist Bruce Weisman and doctoral student Dmitri Tsyboulski, but the equipment we need is less expensive,”” Pasquali said. “”It’s akin to the difference between playing a Stadivarius and playing a common violin.””

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DSM Hosts Marine Days Focusing on Improving Cosmetics

2nd July 2006 0 comments

In order to help boat builders find the best solutions in terms of products and processes, DSM Composite Resins is organizing a series of Marine Days. The first of these was recently held at the Marine Customer Competence Centre in Zwolle, the Netherlands, to an invited group of boat builders, mostly from northern and eastern Europe. The theme of this two day event was ‘Improved Cosmetics’, which combined theory with practical work and highlighted best practice advice on how to achieve optimal results in both mould making and moulding. There were practical vacuum infusion demonstrations to illustrate key factors for achieving the best cosmetic results with specific products, and factors covered in detail during the session included resin and reinforcement selection and improvements in the application process. “Judging by the positive reactions from customers, it was a great success”, says Marine Business Manager Ronny Ledent. “We are now planning further Marine Days in September and November.” Anyone wishing to attend a future Marine Day should contact the address below.

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Aeromexico to Become First Latin American Airline to Operate 787s

2nd July 2006 0 comments

Aeromexico, Mexico’s largest airline, will operate three 787 Dreamliner aircraft, making it the first Latin American airline to incorporate the mostly composite airplane into its fleet. Aeromexico will lease the three 787-8s from ILFC with deliveries scheduled to begin in early 2010. ILFC has 20 787 Dreamliners on order. “”By ordering three 787s, the airline has given fresh impetus to its fleet modernization program, which aims to improve the airline’s operational efficiency and consolidate its leadership in Mexico and Latin America, in both the quality of its aircraft and the service it provides its customers,”” said Andres Conesa, Aeromexico Chief Executive Officer. “”The 787 will provide Aeromexico with breakthrough passenger comfort and operating efficiencies on their long-range routes,”” said Steven F. Udvar-Hazy, chairman and chief executive officer of ILFC. ILFC ordered 20 Dreamliners in November and has ordered 698 Boeing jets since 1977. To date, Boeing has received a total of 403 orders and commitments for the 787. Aeromexico joins a growing team of 787 customers who have recognized the 787’s exceptional value and superior operating performance.

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Major Assembly of First Boeing 787 Dreamliner Starts

2nd July 2006 0 comments

Boeing and its partner Fuji Heavy Industries have started major assembly for the first 787 Dreamliner. FHI began to assemble the centre wing section at its new factory in Handa, Japan, near Nagoya. “”When I look at this piece of structure coming together I know that we are seeing the future of our industry,”” said Mike Bair, vice president and general manager of the 787 program for Boeing. “”We have introduced new materials, new processes, new tools and a new way of working together that is ushering in a new era in commercial aviation.”” When it is completed, it will be flown from Japan to Charleston, S.C., where Global Aeronautica will integrate it with other 787 structures before sending it on to Everett, Wash. Norihisa Matsuo, corporate executive vice president and president of FHI’s Aerospace Company, said, “”FHI has received extraordinary support from Boeing and other global partners. The start of major assembly is really the result of the effort of the entire team. We are very proud of achieving major assembly start of 787 programs as a milestone as scheduled today.”” Scott Strode, vice president of Airplane Development and Production on the 787 program, said, “”We at Boeing are so proud to share this day with FHI — a longtime, valuable partner. You understand our vision and share our commitment to excellence.””

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