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Composites Industry News

News for 2007


Metyx and Scott Bader Team up to Promote Composites in Turkey

7th January 2007 0 comments

Scott Bader has conducted a full day seminar and demonstrations at the new Metyx plant in Istanbul. The participants gained in-depth knowledge of marine and automotive grade products of Scott Bader and Metyx. Highlights of the seminar were Crestomer structural adhesives, infusion, and RTM specific resins as well as Metycore range reinforcements for closed moulding applications. There were also two new products introduced at the seminar. The first was Moldguard by Scott Bader, a brush type gel coat which can be applied on the mould surface for the protection of non-active moulds that need to be stored outdoors. The second new product was RST-5 by Mulder-Hardenberg, a water-based cleaner which Metyx says replaces acetone in nearly all FRP production methods.

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Zyvax Increases Prices on Mould Releases

8th January 2007 0 comments

Zyvax will make a price increase for its line of mould release products worldwide, effective from February 1, 2007 and dependent upon product grade and package form. Zyvax has said that, whilst stringent cost-control measures are in place, rising costs in freight, energy, and raw materials are outpacing these efforts. They say that it is also necessary to increase their investment in servicing their ever-growing customer base and product development initiatives for the future.

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Chomarat Acquires Remaining Interest in Techfab from Hexcel

8th January 2007 0 comments

Hexcel has sold its 50 percent interest in joint venture company TechFab to Chomarat, although TechFab will retain its name and organizational structure “This is an extremely good outcome for our people and for the company,” commented Bruce Hinton, Vice President and General Manager, TechFab. “We have had a long and successful history with Chomarat since the joint ventures inception in 1984. We are excited about the bright future we can create together.” John Carson, TechFab, Director of Commercial Development noted that, “Chomarat has been a composite industry pioneer and innovative products manufacturer for many years. The acquisition of TechFab furthers their strategy to create a strong global technology driven company. TechFab manufactures adhesive bonded nonwoven scrims, scrim composites, carbon fibre C-GRID and MeC-GRID structural grids using polyester, fibreglass and other high performance fibres. Examples of applications for the company’s products include cement and concrete reinforcement, roofing systems, high performance sailcloth and infrastructure repair and rehabilitation.

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High Energy Costs Add a €1 Million Burden for DSM Composite Resins

8th January 2007 0 comments

David Westaway reports on the effect that increasing energy prices are having on Europe’s largest structural resin producer. Worldwide marketed energy consumption is projected to grow by 71 percent between 2003 and 2030, with the highest growth projected for the developing countries. Oil will remain the most important energy source, but a tight demand / supply balance is expected over the period that will keep prices high. Crude oil prices rocketed past $75 per barrel in early July which is bad news for every manufacturing sector, but especially for the resin industry relying, as it does, on oil-based products as feedstock. In terms of natural gas, without new capacity investments in gas supply, a demand gap is imminent – at the same time European electricity markets security of supply is threatened by poor interconnections and the low level investment in power generation over the last two decades. All these factors put added pressure on the chemical industry, in general, to remain profitable and sustainable. “The high cost of energy impacts directly on resin producers”, says Dominique Cornée Leplat, Purchasing Manager for Europe’s largest structural resin producer, DSM Composite Resins. “As a direct result we have seen our costs increase by just over 1 million euros over the last twelve months.” “Industrial electricity supply prices vary a lot across Europe, but in the Netherlands for example, prices increased from 40 to 70 euros per megawatt hour between mid 2005 and mid 2006. Oil and gas prices also increased substantially during 2006. In an energy intensive business like ours, this is an extremely large cost burden to sustain,” says Leplat. In a recent report on its group activities, DSM stated that its 2006 third quarter operating profit from continuing operations fell 3% to €209m ($264.6m) from €215m the previous year, as higher energy and raw material prices offset higher sales volumes and selling prices. DSM chairman Peter Elverding said, “Increased energy prices and raw material costs had the anticipated effects on the results of this quarter, preventing us from reaching the high level achieved in the same period last year.” Extremely volatile energy prices are burdening manufacturers in their struggle to rein in costs and improve profitability. While it’s a situation companies would prefer not to face, at least it has highlighted the importance of developing strategies to deal with these challenges such as multi-sourcing and increasing contract efficiencies.

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Diab Enhances Ultra-High Performance Core Material Range

8th January 2007 0 comments

Core materials specialist Diab has expanded its Divinycell HP range of core materials with the addition of a low density version. Designated HP60, Diab say that it offers all the advantages of the existing HP range, but with a nominal density of just 65 kg/m3 (4.1 lb/ft3), it will allow further weight reductions in advanced sandwich composite structures. The main application areas for the new material will be the wind energy and marine markets, especially those companies using prepregs. Diab maintains that the high compressive strength and modulus of HP60 allows it to resist the buckling loads experienced in wind blades whereas its high service life temperature makes it ideal for dark coloured decks and superstructures. Divinycell HP60 is compatible with the majority of epoxy prepregs and can also be used for closed moulding processes such as resin infusion and RTM where high exothermic temperatures can be encountered.

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CAM System at Bombardier Pays for Itself in 2 Months

8th January 2007 0 comments

In 2004 Bombardier Aerospace, based in Montreal, Canada began a project to replace its existing CAM/nesting system, which had not improved in nesting efficiency for some time. Bombardier Aerospace embarked on benchmarking several systems, choosing Jetcam. Phil Bagshaw, Senior Application Specialist, said, “Jetcam nests were approximately 5-7% better than the closest competitor. As nest efficiency was one of the main reasons for the project we chose Jetcam.” In 2005 five licenses of Expert Premium were installed, along with Jetcam’s high performance nesting module to drive the AGFM composite cutter. Remote Control Processing was used to automate the nesting process. Jetcam Expert was installed on a Citrix server platform to allow users to run on client systems throughout the organisation worldwide. Jetcam Orders Controller (JOC) was also installed on the server being accessed by method engineers (programmers), logistics staff and production staff. Further licenses were added in 2006 to drive the Multicam router, with licenses for the Shoda being installed at the end of 2006. The initial benchmarks gave Bombardier an indication of the material savings they could expect and in practice this alone quickly paid for the project. Phil added; “We saw on average an approximate 15-20% saving which meant that the software paid for itself in around two months due to composite material savings alone.” Further savings were noted on the shop floor, with machine cycle time seeing a 5% improvement (saving around 120 hours on the machine per year) as the software did not force the cutter head to keep rising after each cut, which the previous system did. Bombardier is already on its third installation of Jetcam Expert in its Saint Laurent facility, with its Belfast facility also now a long-time user of the system.

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NCC to Enhance Quickstep Process with Nano Technology

8th January 2007 0 comments

The National Composite Center (NCC) will receive funds from the State of Ohio to launch a program that will fuse two key technologies to give aerospace and automotive manufacturers critical material performance advantages. The funds are part of an umbrella award that helped to establish the Center for Multifunctional Polymer Nanomaterials and Devices (CMPND) at NCC in 2005. Managed by the University of Dayton Research Institute (UDRI), NCC supports CMPND with its commercialization capabilities. In collaboration with UDRI, NCC is teaming with Ashland Performance Materials (a division of Ashland, Inc.), Owens Corning, Ohio State University and WebCore Technologies Inc., to take material produced with Quickstep to a higher level of performance by modifying it with nano particles. Quickstep, a unique moulding process, was unveiled in October when Quickstep Technologies Pty Ltd (a subsidiary of Quickstep Holdings Limited) established its North American Quickstep Center of Excellence at NCC’s Dayton Campus for Advanced Materials Technologies (DC-AMT). The Quickstep process uses fluid-filled, balanced pressure, heated floating mold technology for the curing, partial curing and joining of composite materials. The process can use thermoset and certain thermoplastic prepregs as well as wet resin/dry fiber to produce superior composite parts that feature improved strength, stiffness, surface finish and appearance while achieving aerospace grade void contents of less than two percent. “Quickstep has a much faster cycle time than normal aerospace autoclave processes,” said Harry Couch, NCC Technical Consultant. “The use of nano particles will allow us to take the advantages already provided by Quickstep to the next level by improving shear strength and toughness in aerospace and automotive applications. The first application for this nano-enhanced material will be personal protection devices.”

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Armour Protection Systems are Focus of New Army Contract

8th January 2007 0 comments

The goal of a new five-year, $15 million Army contract to the University of Dayton Research Institute is to save lives. The program, sponsored by the US Army Research Laboratory’s Survivability Branch, will use nanotechnology to address an immediate need for strong but lightweight armour for existing military vehicles, said Brian Rice, a distinguished research engineer at UDRI and manager of the Army’s survivability systems program. In later stages, the program will foster the development of next-generation composite armour for land and air vehicles, body suits, shelters, cargo containers and more. “This is about saving lives. This is about protection systems,” Rice said. “And this is not a ground-level academic study project. We’re actually working with two Ohio companies to create a product that, if it tests out well, could show up in Iraq next year.” Those companies are TPI Composites in Springfield, which is currently working to develop an all-composite armoured vehicle for the Army, and Armor Holdings Inc. of Fairfield, which creates and installs steel plates to armour the Army’s Humvees. “We are developing advanced composites materials to improve the performance of materials for TPI’s armoured vehicle, and we’re working with Armor Holdings to create a composite armour package that will be even stronger than existing armour, but also lighter, to reduce the top weight of the ‘up-armoured’ vehicle,” Rice said. A number of Ohio Third Frontier awards to UDRI in recent years enabled the development of affordable carbon nanofibres and the specialized processes for their dispersion in polymer matrices to form super-strong composite materials. In addition, UDRI houses one of the top ballistics testing labs in the world for testing of armour and other materials. In addition to addressing weight, strength and other mechanical properties of nanocomposite materials, the survivability program will also address issues of flammability, Rice said. “Composites burn, so we’ll include flame retardants in the materials to prevent them from burning.” Improved strength, weight and flame retardance will be especially beneficial in body armour, Rice added, making it easier to wear and far more protective. “Not only will this program help save lives, it will also save limbs – in the battlefield as well as at home. Improved body armour will be affordable enough to be used by firefighters, police and other law enforcement agencies, diplomats and others who need protection.” Beyond protection, materials advances made in the survivability program are expected to be included in a variety of other applications.

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Nanotubes Could Disperse in Natural Environment

8th January 2007 0 comments

Laboratory experiments with carbon nanotubes show significant potential for dispersal in aquatic environments, especially when natural organic materials are present. Georgia Tech researchers Hoon Hyung, right, and Jaehong Kim found that carbon nanotubes mixed with natural organic matter in water are more likely to be transported in the environment. When mixed with natural organic matter in water from the Suwannee River – a relatively unpolluted waterway that originates in southern Georgia – multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWNTs) remain suspended for more than a month, making them more likely to be transported in the environment, according to research led by the Georgia Institute of Technology. “We found that natural organic matter, or NOM as we call it, was efficient at suspending the nanotubes in water,” said Jaehong Kim, an assistant professor in the Georgia Tech School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. The research will be published in the January issue of the American Chemical Society journal Environmental Science & Technology. Kim is the senior author and conducted the research with Professor Joseph Hughes, graduate student Hoon Hyung, both at Georgia Tech, and postdoctoral researcher John Fortner from Georgia Tech and Rice University. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency funded the research. “We don’t know for certain why NOM is so efficient at suspending these nanotubes in the laboratory,” Kim said. “We think NOM has some chemical characteristics that promote adhesion to the nanotubes more than to some surfactants. We are now studying this further.” In the lab, Kim and his colleagues compared the interactions of various concentrations of MWNTs with different aqueous environments – organic-free water, water containing a 1 percent solution of the surfactant sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS), water containing a commercially available sample of Suwannee River NOM and an actual sample of Suwannee River water from the same location as the commercially available preparation. They agitated each sample for one hour and then let it sit for up to one month. The researchers then used transmission electron microscopy (TEM), measurements of opacity and turbidity, and other analyses to determine the behavior of MWNTs in these environments. In light of the findings, Kim and his colleagues have expanded their research to other nanomaterials, including single-walled carbon nanotubes and C60, the so-called “buckyball” molecules in the same family as carbon nanotubes. They are also experimenting with other NOM sources and studying different mixing conditions. “We are getting some interesting results, though our findings are still preliminary,” Kim noted. While researchers explore applications of nanomaterials and industry nears commercial manufacture of these novel products, it’s essential for scientists and engineers to study the materials’ potential environmental impact, Kim added. “Natural organic matter is heterogeneous,” he explained. “It’s a complex mixture made from plants and microorganisms, and it’s largely undefined and variable depending on the source. So we have to continue to study nanomaterial transport in the lab using various NOM sources to try to better understand their potential interaction in the natural environment.” In related research, Kim’s research team is studying various other aspects of the fate of nanomaterials in water—including photochemical and chemical reactions of C60 colloidal aggregates—with the ultimate goal of understanding the environmental implications of nanotechnology.

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A400M first Horizontal Tail Plane to the Final Assembly Line

8th January 2007 0 comments

The reception of the first A400M Horizontal Tail Plane took place just before Christmas at the EADS CASA final assembly line in San Pablo (Seville). This Horizontal Tail Plane was sent from the EADS CASA facilities in Tablada where it is produced, to the structural test facilities of the Final Assembly Line, where it will undergo a series of tests before its assembly on the aircraft. Today’s event represents a special milestone for EADS CASA since this Horizontal Tail Plane is the first A400M component delivered to the Final Assembly Line where assembly, final integration, and flight test of the A400M will take place. The Horizontal Tail Plane is constructed mainly of carbon fibre composite material and incorporates the advanced materials, technologies and manufacturing processes resulting from the experience of EADS CASA in developing stabilizers. It has been designed and manufactured by EADS CASA in collaboration with Airbus Spain together with a number of other industrial partners including SACESA, SK10 and ICSA CTRM. The assembly and installation of the various systems is undertaken at Tablada.

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