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Composites Industry News

News for 16 December 2007


New Research Facility Nears Completion

16th December 2007 0 comments

The National Institute for Aviation Research at Wichita State University will soon gain a much-needed 14,000 square feet of additional research space. The new facility will be completed in the next month and NIAR will begin moving some of its existing equipment as well as installing new equipment in the laboratory space. The building, located north of NIAR’s main facility, will house additional environmental testing equipment including an anechoic chamber, a reverberation chamber, two fluid susceptibility chambers, a temperature/humidity/altitude chamber, a rate of heat release chamber, an aircraft insulation tester and two shaker tables. It will also house the machine shop for the Composites Laboratory. Major equipment in this space will include two CNC machines, two drilling/milling machines, four surface grinders and a table saw.

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Quatro Composites Provides Panels for Use in Drill Qualification

16th December 2007 0 comments

Quatro Composites has been awarded three contracts to supply carbon fibre panels to airframers and tier 1 suppliers for drill qualification and assembly training. “”As the airplane manufacturers make the radical shift from aluminium to carbon composite materials for the primary structure, much support is required to address the new techniques of drilling, fastening and bonding.”” said Steve Roesner, Chief Operating Officer at Quatro Composites. Quatro supports the manufacturers of composite fuselage and wing skins by supplying carbon/epoxy panels that are built to the aircraft manufacturer’s process specifications . In an effort to meet increased demand, Quatro has recently added an additional 30% of manufacturing space to its Orange City, Iowa facility for the manufacture of carbon fiber panels, as well as structural aerospace composite brackets. “Quatro’s expertise, enthusiasm and flexibility allow them to rapidly respond to customer’s requirements and to provide cost-effective solutions,” says Tom Yip of Boeing Phantom Works. Most of the panels Quatro produces are made with Toray T800 carbon epoxy prepreg.

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TAP to Acquire up to 15 A350XWBs

16th December 2007 0 comments

TAP Portugal has signed a firm contract for 12 A350XWBs, plus three options, and a letter of intent for an additional eight A320 Family aircraft. The Lisbon based airline herewith converts its initial order for the A350, placed in December 2005, into the new A350XWB, and has, simultaneously, increased the number of aircraft ordered, from 10 to 12. At the same time TAP is taking delivery of its first directly owned A330-200. In announcing the transaction, TAP’s Chief Executive Officer, Fernando Pinto, said: “”We have thoroughly re-evaluated our initial A350 order and the result clearly demonstrated that the XWB is the winner in all areas. This aircraft will meet TAP’s requirements to cater for passenger traffic growth across the Atlantic and our plans to serve further destinations. The A350XWB offers outstanding passenger comfort thanks to its wider cabin, and unmatched operating costs, fuel consumption and environmental friendliness. The further additional A320s is a natural choice for our expansion plans, as the A320s perfectly fit our need for efficient single aisle aircraft offering the best possible comfort for our passengers”. “We are particularly honoured by this renewed mark of confidence from TAP, one of Europe’s major airlines. This order is also a further endorsement of the new A350XWB programme. “” Airbus Chief Operating Officer Customers, John Leahy said.” I am confident the A350XWB will deliver on its promises and that it will be the right aircraft to accompany TAP’s future growth strategy, together with our market leading A320 Family aircraft. “” TAP currently operates a fleet of 51 Airbus aircraft, including 17 A319s, 15 A320s, three A321s, four A340-300s, five A310-300s and seven A330-200s, and is Airbus’ largest customer in Portugal. The A350XWBs will in time replace the A340-300 and A330-200 fleet, and support TAP’s network expansion. The A350XWB (extra wide-body) is Airbus’ response to market demand for a medium capacity long range wide-body family available in three basic passenger versions, the A350-800 which can fly 270 passengers, the A350-900 seating 314, and the A350-1000 which is designed for 350. With TAP’s order, total firm orders for the A350 XWB programme stand at 288 aircraft.

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Flow International Receives Contract With Mitsubishi Heavy Industries

16th December 2007 0 comments

Flow International will supply Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) with a second waterjet machine tool to cut the carbon fibre wing components for a major commercial jet aircraft program. Flow’s Composite Waterjet machining system for the precision machining of carbon fibre composite stringers will measure 80 ft. long. It will be utilized for cutting the composite stringers, which are part of the composite wing structure. As a result of breakthrough development work, it will be equipped with multiple patent-pending “side-fire” nozzles. The system will be built and tested in Jeffersonville, Ind., one of Flow’s six worldwide manufacturing plants. The UHP pumps that provide the ultrahigh-pressure water will be made at the Kent, Wash. headquarters. “The second round award of Flow’s commercial wing structure machining system proves the effectiveness of Flow’s waterjet technology and its ability to create ‘state of the art’ aircraft parts in a cost-effective manner,” said Charley Brown, Flow’s President and Chief Executive Officer.

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MSU Nanotechnology Research Nets Nano 50 Award

16th December 2007 0 comments

A new nanotechnology material developed at Michigan State University has enabled XG Sciences, Inc., a start-up company headquartered in East Lansing, Michigan, to be named a winner in the third annual Nanotech Briefs Nano 50 awards program. Nanotech Briefs is a national digital magazine that presents the best of government, industry, and university nanotech innovations that have real-world applications in the areas of electronics, materials, sensors, manufacturing, biomedical, optics/photonics, and aerospace/defense. Nano 50 awards recognize the top 50 technologies, products, and innovators that have significantly impacted (or are expected to impact) the state of the art in nanotechnology. The winners are the “”best of the best””—the innovative people and designs that will move nanotechnology to key mainstream markets. XG Sciences, Inc., was recognized for its new nanomaterial — xGnP Exfoliated Graphite NanoPlatelets — a practical, inexpensive nanoscale material that has a unique set of physical, chemical, and morphological attributes. This new material is the result of several years of research led by Lawrence T. Drzal, University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, director of MSU’s Composite Materials and Structures Center (CMSC), and chief scientist at XG Sciences. The key to the new material’s capabilities is a fast and inexpensive process for separating layers of graphite (graphene) into stacks less than 10 nanometers in thickness but with lateral dimensions anywhere from 100 nm to several microns, coupled with the ability to tailor the particle surface chemistry to make it compatible with water, resin or plastic systems. “This is an exciting development from a variety of perspectives,” said Drzal. “This research has achieved recognition as a major new advance in the field of nanotechnology and it is an example of how student and faculty research conducted in the MSU College of Engineering has the potential to transition to the commercial sector, make a positive economic impact, and be a technological benefit to Michigan and the nation.” Research has shown that adding xGnP to polymers at low concentrations results in nanocomposites that are multifunctional in that they possess an array of enhanced properties–including improved strength and significantly increased electrical and thermal conductivity–leading to new and expanded applications. This will lead to their incorporation in: the aerospace industry for lightening strike protection, electrical conductivity and greater stiffness; the automotive industry to produce conductive paintable plastics and fuel lines and tanks with superior barrier properties; the packaging industry to produce low permeability materials and electrostatically dissipative materials; and the area of structural applications to produce stiffer, stronger and tougher plastics and composites. Michael R. Knox, president and CEO of XG Sciences, said, “We are extremely pleased to get the Nano 50 Award. It validates the excitement that we feel about our commercial potential and it will help us get on the radar screens of additional prospective customers. We have seen great interest so far from companies around the world and, as we scale up our production capabilities, we expect to have our first applications in real products soon.” Funding and support for xGnP research was provided by MSU and a grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s 21st Century Jobs Fund.

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Review: SAMPE/IOM3 Annual Student Seminar 2007

16th December 2007 0 comments

The UK and Ireland Chapter of the Society for the Advancement of Materials and Process Engineering (SAMPE), in collaboration with the British Composites Society, held their Annual Student Seminar on Thursday 29 November 2007 at IOM3 HQ in London. Eleven students representing seven universities took part. Each gave an interesting well-presented talk on their respective research project leaving the judges with a difficult decision on who to put forward for the next round in Europe. The presentations ranged from the auxetic behaviour of compacted materials, silkworm cocoons and open cell foams, through bio-resorbable composites and carbon nanotubes to process- and health-monitoring of composites and self-healing materials. Two students were selected to go forward to the European Student Seminar (prior to and during the SAMPE Conference/JEC Exhibition) to be held in Paris during March/April 2008 – Sang Nguyen (Imperial College London) who presented ‘Runway debris lofting mechanisms and impact on aircraft structures’ and Tim Swait (University of Sheffield) who presented ‘Optimisation of interfacial properties for tensile strength’. The judges were Sue Panteny (Materials in Transport), Geoff Gould (Surface Transforms plc), Roy McCarthy (a director of SAMPE UK & Ireland Chapter) and John Summerscales (University of Plymouth).

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Mitsubishi Rayon Introduces New PAN Based Carbon Fibre

16th December 2007 0 comments

The P330 series has same properties as the TRH50 fiber that is one of Mitsubishi Rayon’s high strength carbon fibres but will have an increased filament count (50-60k). Mitsubishi says that the P330 series will have better processability compared with other carbon fibres with a similar tow size and with the additional benefit of higher strength and higher modulus. They expect this new product will change the composite’s industries understanding of PAN based carbon fibre that is designed for commercial and industrial applications.

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Operations Commence at Expanded Vectran Superfiber Facility

16th December 2007 0 comments

Having invested ¥700 million in expanding its Vectran polyarylate superfiber manufacturing facilities, Kuraray Co., Ltd. commenced full-scale operations last month. With the facility expansion, Vectran’s annual production capacity was raised from 600 tons to 1,000 tons. Vectran fiber is commonly portrayed as a super-high-performance fibre with ultra-high strength and a high Young’s modulus. Vectran is characterized by its low creep, low moisture absorption properties, high tenacity at extremely low temperatures and abrasion resistance in wet conditions. In addition to its existing applications, such as its use in the fisheries industry, Vectran is increasingly employed in new applications in various industries in Japan. New applications include earphone cables, tension members for stratospheric airship sheathing, volleyball and tennis nets and ropes, plastic reinforcement Materials, ropes for marine research and experimental sacks for transporting water by sea. Overseas, Vectran fiber was selected for the special airbags used on NASA’s 1997 Mars landing vehicle, and then again in 2004 for the special airbags used on the Mars rovers. Recently, Vectran fiber has also been used for protective gloves, ropes and ground fabric for sheathing, all of which require Vectran’s very high performance attributes. The acquisition of the Vectran high-performance polyarylate fiber business of Celanese Advanced Materials Inc. (CAMI), based in South Carolina in the United States, allowed Kuraray to directly participate in the large-scale European and U.S. markets, which significantly helped the Company’s information-gathering activities in terms of meeting market needs in a more timely and accurate fashion. In addition, thanks to the integrated manufacturing and sales structure that Kuraray has established over the years, it is now possible to accelerate the expansion of its Vectran business, based on the geographical centers of Japan, the United States and Europe. With the 400-ton increase in its annual production capacity, Kuraray is aiming for further growth in the civil engineering, construction material and fiber optic cabling industries as well as in new areas of application.

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Euroresins sells UK Distribution Business of Hexion Specialties

16th December 2007 0 comments

Euroresins, the distribution subsidiary of DSM Composite Resins, has sold its Hexion specialties distribution business in the UK to Albion Chemicals. The Hexion specialties, with trade names which includes Epikote, Epicure, Heloxy and Cardura, have a customer base typically outside of the Composite area. The decision to divest this business was taken to reinforce the focus of Euroresins in its core activity which is composite distribution. This move is a step towards the fulfilment of the DSM strategy which is to build a leading pan European composite distributor. Euroresins has been the distributor for Hexion specialties in the UK since 1993 and has been very successful in establishing a strong market position for their specialty products. Three key employees of Euroresins, who were instrumental in the role of building and supporting the business will continue to do so with Albion. To ensure continuity of supply to customers, Euroresins will support the entire transition of the Hexion specialty products to Albion. Albion Chemicals, part of the Brenntag group, is a distributor of chemical products and services For Brenntag, already a distributor for Hexion in continental Europe.

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E&F Expand into RIM/DCPD process

16th December 2007 0 comments

E&F Composites has added the RIM/DCPD (Telene) process to the moulding capabilities at their Hartlepool site. RIM/DCPD technology provides alternative solutions for the moulding of large, complex components which are lightweight, have a balance of stiffness and impact strength, chemical resistance, fast cycle times and moderate tooling costs. This development compliments the existing range of processes and materials currently in the E&F product portfolio, including RTM, VARTM, RIM, SRIM and Spray-Hand lay up E&F Composites are a Tier 1 supplier with over 30 years experience supplying to a wide range of markets with particular strengths in off-highway, automotive, agricultural, leisure, marine and industrial markets.

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