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Composites Industry News

News for 30 May 2006


Amiantit Wins Multi-Million Dollar Contracts in South America

30th May 2006 0 comments

Amiantit Group subsidiary manufacturing companies Amitech Argentina and Amitech Brazil are supplying pipe systems for multi-million dollar water infrastructure projects and irrigation networks in their respective countries. The Argentina order, valued at US$ 6 million, is for 53 kilometers of Flowtite glass reinforced polyester (GRP) pipes to transmit water from a treatment plant in the city of Trelew to Puerto Madryn on the Patagonian Coast. Once a small community founded by Welsh settlers, Puerto Madryn, is a sanctuary for maritime fauna, such as penguins, seals and whales, and has experienced a population explosion since has become a popular tourist destination for whale-watching. In addition, Amitech Argentina is currently supplying pipes to west Buenos Aires and to Neuquen Province. The company is well placed to supply pipes for water infrastructure projects in Santa Fe, La Pampa, Cordoba and Chaco regions and to export to neighboring countries. Total orders in hand at present add up to around US$ 13 million and this amount is expected to grow during the year. Amitech Brazil has secured two orders. The first is for 14 kilometers of Flowtite GRP pipes and fittings urgently required for two water pipelines in neighboring Columbia. In order to meet the short deadline, Amitech Brazil will manufacture the pipes and the lamination will be done on site by Amiantit’s Columbian Flowtite licensee, Flowtite Andercol. The contract calls for after sales support which will be shared by the two companies. The second order is for 1 kilometer of Flowtite GRP pipes required by International Paper, a leading paper and pulp manufacturer in Brazil, to transport very acidic and extreme alkaline liquids. To withstand these very aggressive effluents at temperatures of up to 70 degrees centigrade the pipes will have an isophtalic body resin and a vinylester lining. Amitech Brazil is currently supplying pipes to the state of Alagoas and to Indaiatuba municipality. The company is strategically positioned to supply pipes for projects in other regions of Brazil as well as to export to its neighbors. Orders currently on the books stand at approximately US$ 5.3 million and further orders are anticipated in the near future. These orders represent a substantial increase in market share for Amiantit pipe systems in South America and Mexico, where the upsurge in economic growth is enabling governments, municipalities and the private sector to proceed with infrastructure development projects necessitated by population growth and industrial expansion. The image shows Amiantit environment-friendly GRP pipes being laid to transport water to Puerto Madryn in Argentina.

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Antiquated Sewers Get Modern Makeover

30th May 2006 0 comments

Nineteenth Century sewers under the City of Des Moines have been updated with new thermoset composite liners installed by Visu-Sewer Clean & Seal.

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Wood Plastics Composites All Set to Win in Europe

30th May 2006 0 comments

Hackwell Group suggests that annual production growth rates to 2009 will fall just short of ten per cent, rising from its 2005 total of 99,288 tonnes to nearly 145,000 tonnes per year, worth about €290M. The extraordinary growth in sales of products made from mixtures of wood flour and plastics in North America has been the envy of European producers for ten years. The materials contain a good deal of wood filler (typically 40 to 80%) and yet their outdoor durability is more like that of plastics than wood. As a result the relatively high purchase price of WPC articles is offset by low outdoor maintenance costs. Products can be extruded like plastics, without expensive wood working operations, and can be co-extruded or veneered. At last there are signs that the European market is taking off. In their second report on the European market, which comes in both a full standard edition and a much shorter one*, the UK based Hackwell Group highlights the considerable variety of wood plastics composites (WPC) products already available on this side of the Atlantic. Hackwell suggests that annual production growth rates to 2009 will fall just short of ten per cent. By then, European production will have risen from its 2005 total of 99,288 tonnes to nearly 145,000 t/y. This will make the total output worth about €290M. Faster growth is likely to occur if larger companies with more resources enter the market. The automotive industry is easily the biggest user of WPC in Europe at the moment, with well over half the total consumption. The situation is very different elsewhere and vehicles account for as little as 7% of consumption worldwide WPC sales. In future, Hackwell expects a few European automotive supplier companies to be diverted to natural fibres such as flax and hemp. On the other hand there is great scope for growth in WPC sales in construction and furniture. Construction is already the second largest sector after automotive. Although few furniture products are available yet, the number of companies developing furniture components made of WPC is much greater than when Hackwell last reported in 2003, and IPT in Germany has demonstrated the rotational moulding of a WPC chair. Sales are also expected in infrastructure applications (such as highway sound barriers and waterfront fixtures) areas normally made of wood. Injection mouldings of WPC will offer the advantages of a popular natural material and a much reduced dependence on oil-based resin for a wide variety of products. (The most popular resin for WPC in Europe is virgin polypropylene, whereas the global preference is for polyethylene, often recycled. PVC is used by four or five manufacturers in Europe). Leading European WPC manufacturers include Tech-Wood, PPT, Polyplank, Kosche and Deceuninck, among others. There is a growing concentration of producers in German speaking countries. Several European companies offer WPC in pellet form at under €1 per kg. Decking has been far the biggest engine of growth for WPC in the USA and the absence of a strong European decking market has held the WPC industry back. Nevertheless a number of European countries are now showing interest in decking, which had already become the leading WPC product in Europe outside the automotive industry by 2004, as the figure shows. (The Hackwell Report contains data for 2005, and was completed early in 2006). Hackwell finds that the volume of imports of WPC from the US, China, Malaysia and elsewhere is not yet large, and Europe has a small export trade so overall consumption figures for Europe do not differ very much from those for production. It is not yet clear which of many other applications will become firmly established but siding or cladding, fencing and interior construction items are contenders. The WPC window market in the US is being developed but its European equivalent is dominated by PVC and already largely saturated. Improvements in the strength of WPC can be expected over the next two or three years to help its market penetration in a number of areas. Technical standards are being developed for WPC. *The European Wood Plastics Composites Market 2006, Hackwell Group

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Composite & Plastic Lumber Demand to Reach $3.5 Billion in 2009

30th May 2006 0 comments

Demand for wood-plastic composite and plastic lumber in the US is forecast to expand eleven percent per annum through 2009 to $3.5 billion. Advances will result from increasing market penetration of these alternative building materials, particularly in decking applications, which are expected to account for almost 40 percent of value demand in 2009. Gains for these materials in decking will be attributable to performance characteristics, such as high durability and low maintenance requirements. Advances for composite decking will also be driven by increasing consumer and contractor familiarity, a widening distribution network, and product improvements that enhance appearance. These and other trends including market share, market leaders and company profiles are presented in “”Composite & Plastic Lumber,”” a new study from The Freedonia Group, Inc., the Cleveland-based industry market research firm. Plastic lumber will benefit from growing use in fencing installations, while wood-plastic composites will achieve rising penetration in newer applications, such as fencing, window and door components, and railroad ties. Demand for both composite and plastic lumber will be aided by consumer efforts to reduce maintenance associated with construction materials. Moulding and trim was the largest end use for composite and plastic lumber in 2004, at 46 percent of the total. Through 2009, demand for composite and plastic lumber in moulding and trim applications is forecast to rise more than six percent per year to $1.3 billion, almost all of which will be plastic lumber. Gains will be slower than for most composite and plastic lumber applications, a result of the relative maturity of the overall moulding and trim market, but will be significantly faster than those for wood moulding and trim materials. Among the major product categories, window and door applications, although rising from a small base, are anticipated to post the fastest gains through 2009, with demand expected to exceed $200 million. As with other applications, composite window and door components are making inroads against wood, metal and plastic materials because of their lower maintenance requirements and similarities to wood. Other applications, such as playground equipment, site and leisure furniture, hot tub cladding, porches and railroad ties, will see above-average gains through 2009 as well, albeit from small bases.

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Price Increases from DSM, AOC and Reichhold

30th May 2006 0 comments

DSM will be increasing the prices of all its unsaturated polyester resin and gelcoat products, whilst AOC and Reichhold will increase the prices of their isophthalic-based products.

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Modern Composite Materials Keep Centuries-old Buildings Young

30th May 2006 0 comments

The vaulted roofs and the walls of the basilica in Padua, Italy, and the monastery attached to it, have been reinforced with Twaron and a combination of Twaron and carbon fibres has been used in the library wall. Both high-performance fibres, Twaron and carbon, are essential for restoring and preserving the thousands of historic buildings in Italy. They have been used now for about ten years because of their combination of exceptional properties – they are strong and light materials, are easy to apply and do not corrode. As well as this, and this is very important in Italy, they help to absorb the forces of earthquakes. It is for these reasons that the Italian government stimulates the use of composites technology in the restoration and preservation of Italy’s cultural heritage. Other buildings that have already been preserved in this way include the Venaria Reale in Turin, the Franciscan monastery in Carrara and the St. Petronio Basilica in Bologna. This application has really taken off, and is now in use in other types of constructions, such as building motorways, bridges and viaducts. The use of these materials is thanks to Professor Lino Credali, General Director of the firm of Ardea Progetti e Sistemi and former Professor of Polymer Chemistry at University of Padua and Ferrara, as well as Professor of Material Science at University of Modena. Ardea is specialized in the design of constructions from composite materials. The company has its own patented process, Betontex, for the production of unidirectional, thermo-welded, reinforcement materials for constructional applications. Prof. Credali: “”The most important advantages of Twaron are the excellent mechanical properties, the high tensile strength, the high modulus and the very the very high elongation at break. The material absorbs a large amount of energy when stretching and, what is very important, it also easily absorbs vibrational energy because of its specific crystal structure. These properties make Twaron admirably suited for constructions that have to withstand earthquakes and subsidence.” Credali uses Twaron particularly for the restoration of brickwork and vaulted roofs, and for masonry walls at the top of buildings. In the past these load-bearing constructions in domes were reinforced with cement beams and stringcourses, but this caused a major increase in weight and with this the chance of damage in the event of an earthquake. Twaron has a comparable modulus to brickwork, but it is much more flexible than the brittle combination of stone and mortar. Twaron aramid gives brickwork the necessary strength and toughness. It also prevents cracks from spreading further.

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Resin Systems Starts Shipments of Poles to China

30th May 2006 0 comments

RS Technologies has started shipment of its RStandard transmission poles to China for testing and approval. The poles will be used by Jiangsu Far-East Group Co., Ltd. and the Shenzhen Chamber of Commerce for Electric Power Service to complete the testing and product approvals for the Chinese power grid. The process includes structural testing at the SG Electric Power Construction Research Institute and electrical testing at the Wuhan High Voltage Research Institute. RStandard poles will then be installed in China’s live grid for approval. “”The recently announced commissioning of our two Calgary production cells was a critical step in the production of transmission poles over 32 metres (105 feet) needed for China.”” said Greg Pendura, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of RS. “”The installation of our RStandard poles in the Chinese grid in June will mark two significant milestones: the first composite transmission poles in China and the first delivery of 41 metre (135 foot) transmission poles in a 12 metre (40 foot) ocean container.””

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LM Glasfiber Sales Increase by 10%

30th May 2006 0 comments

Positioning in key growth markets pushed LM Glasfiber’s 2005 blade sales to an all time high of 3,000 MW up 15% on 2004. Sales growth more than doubled previous expectations while operating profit as a percentage of sales was less than expected due. LM say that this was due to a surge in raw material prices, substantial costs of capacity expansions in North America and poor capacity utilisation in their factories in Denmark and Spain in the first half of the year. In 2006, LM Glasfiber expects a sales growth of at least 25% and operating profit is expected to represent at least 10% of revenue. Their expectations are based high visibility and global capacity expansions as well as technology advances in materials science, process technology, blade design and lightning protection. Mark Floman, Chairman of LM Glasfiber, said: “”With this year’s results we have outperformed our sales guidance for the second year running and significantly broadened our customer base. All staff of our business units can take pride in this result. Add to that our strong technology and extended global reach, and LM Glasfiber is today in a better position than ever to meet the increasing demands of the wind energy business going mainstream.””

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