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Composites Industry News

News for October 2006


Airbus A400M Wing Centre Officially Opens in the UK

3rd October 2006 0 comments

The wing assembly centre for A400M military transports was officially opened this week at Airbus’ Filton plant by Lord Drayson, the U.K. Minister for Defence Procurement. Work on the initial set of A400M wing components already is underway in one of the 8,000 square metre manufacturing centre’s two sets of assembly jigs. A third set of assembly jigs will be installed as the production rate builds up to three pairs of wings per month. The A400M – the world’s most modern military transport aircraft – represents a major step in Airbus wing technology, as it features the first-ever carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) composite wing-box for an Airbus-built aircraft. It is also believed to be the largest composite wing ever made. The £70 million (100 million euro) wing centre, located near Bristol, is equipped with new, state-of-the-art, jigs and tools – and utilises automated machinery that includes high-precision automated wing drilling equipment. Wing-box construction consists of pre-assembled leading and trailing edges made of composite spars, metallic ribs and 20 metre-long composite wing skins that incorporate integrated stringers (longitudinal stiffeners). After assembly, the A400M wings will be fully equipped with hydraulic, pneumatic, fuel and electrical systems and fitted with the flight control surfaces. They will undergo full testing before being flown by Airbus A300-600ST Beluga transport aircraft to the A400M aircraft final assembly line in Seville, Spain. The first set of wings will be delivered ready for the A400M’s final assembly start-up in March 2007. The initial six sets of aircraft wings, along with those destined for fatigue and static testing, will be equipped with additional instrumentation and other equipment for flight test and ground testing the new-generation Airbus military airlifter. Tom Williams, the Airbus Executive Vice President – Programmes, emphasised the importance of the A400M programme to the company, stating: “”To date, all the A400M contract milestones have been met on time, and we are giving top priority to continuing to fully meet our programme obligations on this exciting and important programme in the months and years ahead.””

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Launch of Composites Europe Exceeds Expectations

3rd October 2006 0 comments

‘A perfect start’ is the comment from Britta Wirtz, Director of the new trade fair Composites Europe, which was launched successfully in Essen with more than 3,700 visitors. The focus of the new European Trade Fair for Composites, Technology and Applications was on fibre composite materials. On 6,000 sqm of exhibition space, 200 exhibitors Europe and overseas presented the entire spectrum of the composites industry, from the raw materials to processing technology and practical applications. In cooperation with the European Composites Industry Association (EuCIA) and supported by industry magazine Reinforced Plastics, the organisers Reed Exhibitions Deutschland GmbH say that they successfully positioned the show alongside the Aluminium trade fair which took place at the same time in Essen. Around 45% of visitors came from the automotive and transport sectors; the aerospace (29%), building and construction (23%) and sports and leisure (22%) sectors were also well represented, and Reed say that most visitors were decision-makers in their respective fields. The fair also impressed visitors as a new business platform: around to 80% of the visitors said they made new contacts and visitors also awarded the new event good marks – 77% of the visitors gave a ‘positive’ to ‘very positive’ assessment of Composites Europe. Composites Europe was accompanied by the 9th International Congress of the Federation of Reinforced Plastics e.V. (AVK) whose members used the fair as a new networking event. “Composites Europe surprised us. The AVK members were simply overwhelmed, I only saw satisfied faces“, says Dr. Uwe Bültjer, Managing Director of AVK, after the three days of the fair. “Composites Europe is a very good fair. We had the opportunity to make entirely new contacts“, commented Jan Verhaeghe from the Belgian vehicle manufacturer Composittrailer, who is also Vice President of EuCIA. Uwe Kassens from the Röchling Group also reported that participation at the fair had been a success. “Most of all, Composites Europe yielded a large number of good contacts from new segments. “ “We are confident that we will be able to establish Composites Europe as an institution among industrial fairs in Germany“, said Hans-Joachim Erbel, Managing Director of Reed Exhibitions Deutschland GmbH. Composites Europe 2007 will be held from November 6th to 8th in Stuttgart, holding Composites Europe in the most important centres of composites application in Europe. Next year, Reed Exhibitions is also collaborating with Reinforced Plastics magazine to launch a new event in Asia – Composites & RP Asia 2007 will take place on 4-6 September in Hong Kong.

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Gurit Locates Competence Centre for Winter Sports Materials in Switzerland

3rd October 2006 0 comments

Gurit is locating its competence centre for winter sports materials to the Ittigen facility near Berne/Switzerland. The Austrian Innsbruck plant will be phased out by the end of this year. Equipment continuing to produce winter sports materials is being transferred to Switzerland, while other equipment is relocated to the North American plant in Magog to serve the Wind Energy and Marine markets. A smaller production unit specialising in extruded products, located in Perrignier, France, and currently employing eleven people will also be integrated into the Ittigen facility and cease operations by the end of 2006. The transfer of the equipment will be completed by the end of January 2007. Together with the main production centre, customer relations for Winter Sports activities will also be located in Switzerland, while the manufacture of sintered winter sports materials remains at the Gurit facility in Vreden/Germany.

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Interplastic Purchases Mahogany Distribution Company of Mays Landing

3rd October 2006 0 comments

Interplastic has signed a letter of intent to purchase the composite materials distribution business of Mahogany Company of Mays Landing. Mahogany operates two distribution centers in Mays Landing, NJ, and stocking locations in Everett, PA and Duncan, SC. The sale is expected to close at the end of November. The business being purchased distributes a variety of thermoset resins, fibreglass reinforcements and associated products to customers from Maine to North Carolina. The business will be operated by North American Composites, Interplastic Corporation’s distribution subsidiary. “We are excited by the opportunity to acquire a distribution organization with the reputation and capability of Mahogany Company. We expect this acquisition to both strengthen North American Composites’ capabilities on the Eastern Seaboard and to provide expanded coverage in the mid-Atlantic States,” said Mark J Brost, Vice President & General Manager of North American Composites.

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High Quality Pools Expand to Second Manufacturing Site

3rd October 2006 0 comments

The demand for pools from Blue Hawaiian Fiberglass Pools has necessitated the opening of a second manufacturing plant to meet their demand.

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Genlyte Group Acquires Carsonite Business

3rd October 2006 0 comments

The Genlyte Group Incorporated has reached an agreement to acquire the assets of Carsonite, a subsidiary of Omega Polymer Technologies, as part of a restructuring being undertaken by Omega. Larry K. Powers, President and Chief Executive Officer of Genlyte commented, “”We are pleased with the strategic benefits of this acquisition. This business will complement Genlyte’s current Shakespeare Composite Structures product offerings in the utility, roadway, park and recreation markets. We plan to operate the Carsonite business reporting to Bill Griffin, the General Manager of Genlyte’s Shakespeare Composite Structures division. The anticipated annual sales for 2007 will be approximately $12 million and we anticipate that the acquisition will be accretive during 2007 after we complete restructuring activities.”” Bill Griffin said, “”The Carsonite product lines for the electric utility, telecommunications, water, sewer, gas and oil, roadway, and park and recreation markets will extend our offering to these markets. This transaction is an excellent opportunity for the customers, representatives, and employees, of Carsonite to be associated with one of the most highly respected commercial lighting and composite poles businesses in North America. The Carsonite facilities have operational synergies with our composite pole and pultrusion operations located in Newberry, SC and Largo, FL.”” The Carsonite business segment purchase price includes a cash price of $2.85 million plus the estimated value of approximately $1.6 million for inventory and accounts receivable. Carsonite has one owned factory located in Varnville, SC and one leased factory located in Early Branch, SC.

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Natural Fiber Composites Corporation to Receive Financial Boost

3rd October 2006 0 comments

Natural Fiber Composites Corporation (NFCC) will receive a $1,483,530 Innovation Ohio Loan for machinery, computers, office equipment and intellectual property protection costs. NFCC was recently formed by the principals of Engineering Mechanics Corporation of Columbus (EMCC) to commercialize a technology involving natural composites as reinforcements for plastics and composites. These natural fibres such as flax, kenaf and jute have similar mechanical properties to fibreglass, and are from renewable resources. The company proposes to build and install a pilot plant to produce Natural Fiber Reinforced Plastic. The plant will have a capacity of six million pounds a year and NFCC expects to grow the production in the first two years to full pilot-plant capacity. This $1.9 million project is expected to create 16 jobs at the project site within the first three years of the project’s initial operation.

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Price Increase from Norac

3rd October 2006 0 comments

Norac Andos, subsidiary of Norac Inc in the US, will implement a price increase for methyl ethyl ketone peroxide (MEKP) used for thermoset curing. Norac say that the price increase is needed to cover increased cost for phlegmatizers, and that the price for dimethyl phthalate (DMP) has gone up dramatically during the last months as a result of higher prices for ortoxylene and methanol. The price increase will be 12 EURO-cent per kg.

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US Navy Awards Contract for Amphibious Craft Composite Technology

3rd October 2006 0 comments

The U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) has awarded Goodrich Corporation a contract to continue its concept development work on a composite Fan Propulsor Assembly (FPA) for a new amphibious craft — the Joint Maritime Assault Connector (JMAC). Goodrich is developing a composite material design for the JMAC’s FPA. The FPA houses the fan blades which together form a duct fan that provides thrust and directional control for the amphibious craft. “”We are very pleased to have been selected to continue development of a significant component on a platform that is essential to the navy’s sea basing strategic initiative,”” stated Ed Hart, President of Goodrich’s Engineered Polymer Products division. “”This opportunity allows us to leverage technical expertise across Goodrich’s portfolio of businesses to further benefit our customer,”” he continued. Goodrich’s research and development efforts span design support and material technologies from its Aerostructures and Sensors and Integrated Systems divisions. Goodrich’s composite FPA will be significantly lighter in weight than the existing metallic design while still meeting stringent structural load requirements as well as a projected 33-year service life. The weight reduction will help increase the JMAC’s range, payload and speed and reduce fuel consumption. The composite design will also require less maintenance than a metal-based equivalent. Based upon the positive performance results derived from the analysis conducted on its conceptual design and feedback received from NAVSEA during the phase one concept design study, Goodrich was awarded this follow-on contract for phase two, which consists of further development of the FPA to a preliminary design that includes production of scaled prototypes. The navy currently is conducting studies and intends to apply this new technology to the JMAC which will replace its current Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) vehicle.

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PP/Glass Automotive Material Wins SPE Prize

3rd October 2006 0 comments

Borealis and BMW have developed a new material and testing solution for BMW instrument panel carriers, which has been awarded a second prize in the Society of Plastics Engineers’ (SPE) 10th Automotive Division Award 2006 in the category body interior. The new grade, called Nepol GB215HP, has been developed to achieve a one material solution for the upper, middle and lower part of dashboard carriers. The customised 20 per cent long glass fibre reinforced polypropylene (PP) compound meets a number of characteristics specified by BMW. The material delivers the stiffness and dimensional stability required to fulfil functional requirements in the finished interiors, as well as providing energy absorption, preventing splintering at heavy impact and improving the safety of passengers. In order to make it suitable for BMW’s SGI-foam injection moulding technology, Borealis tailored the PP to enable foaming, producing lightweight parts with a well defined cellular structure. Franz Zängerl, New Business Development Manager Europe, Borealis adds: “The ‘one material solution’ and new testing system for BMW reinforce Borealis’ commitment to long-term investment in supporting customers to meet the manufacturing, performance and environmental challenges of the future. We are delighted to see these joint developments recognised by the Society of Plastics Engineers.”

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