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Composites Industry News

News for 4 February 2007


SAMPE Launches SAMPE Asia 2008

4th February 2007 0 comments

SAMPE has launched a new regional event, SAMPE Asia, to be held in Bangkok, Thailand in February 2008.

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JEC Group Creates an International Composite Event in Asia

4th February 2007 0 comments

As part of its activity to promote the use of composite materials and solutions worldwide, the JEC Group is launching a new composite event to be held in Singapore on October 22-24, 2008. The event will be disclosed officially at the next JEC Composites Show in Paris (Porte de Versailles, Hall 1, April 3-4-5, 2007). “Many key composite-industry customers and players have spoken to us about the need for an international platform in Asia, where the composite industry is registering its highest growth rates,” said Frédérique Mutel, JEC’s President and CEO. “Singapore was chosen for its central location in this region of the world. As a hub for knowledge and expertise, it is also a place that attracts top-notch researchers, investors and technological entrepreneurs.” The event, which will JEC says will cover all the composite issues cropping up from India to Australia, will include technical conferences, user forums, an innovation programme, an awards ceremony, an exhibit of innovative parts and a technical expo/demonstration area.

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New Italian Composites Magazine

4th February 2007 0 comments

The new bilingual Italian/English monthly magazine, Composite Solutions, will be launched at the JEC Show in April. Each issue will be focused on an industrial composites sector, whilst the first issue will be a survey on the composites world in Italy and abroad. The magazine has been launched to be the voice of the Italian composites market, which is in continuous growth. The ACMA President will write an editorial for the first issue.

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M. C. Gill Corporation Changes Ownership

4th February 2007 0 comments

Merwyn C. Gill, pioneering founder of the M. C. Gill Corporation, has sold his shares to his three children. M.C. founded the business in 1945, after the end of WWII, based on his belief that plastics were the materials of the future. M. C. stated that, “It has been the long-term goal for the business to continue as a family-owned business and with the sale of my stock we have assured that it will continue as such. I’ve enjoyed the 61 year long challenge of starting and then successfully growing my own business and I’m happy to pass it on and confident that it will continue to succeed.” He will remain active as the Chairman of the Board – Emeritus. Stephen Gill commented, “This is the completion of our plan to keep the business in the family. It is also good for the employees, vendors and customers as it lends stability to know that the corporation is going to stay in the family and that it will continue to be run by the same people with the same standards and goals.” Commenting on the future Stephen said, “The future looks bright and we are eager to get into it. “

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Boeing Business Jets Unveils Interior Concepts for 787 VIP

4th February 2007 0 comments

Boeing Business Jets has unveiled concepts of luxury and comfort for the 787 VIP aircraft at the Middle East Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition in Dubai. “”A Boeing 787 VIP affords its owner complete accommodation,”” said Steven Hill, president of Boeing Business Jets. “”The spacious cabin and the technology of the 787 enable an owner to design a beautiful environment that exactly meets preferences and needs. Whether you are looking for a flying palace or a business office in the sky — or both, the possibilities are endless.”” “”Aboard a 787 VIP owners can fly anywhere in the world nonstop, and on those long-distance flights, it is critical to have amenities and a cabin environment that allow passengers to be completely comfortable and productive,”” Hill added. Boeing Business Jets has commissioned several design firms to develop preliminary concepts for 787 VIP interiors. A number of other airplane interior design firms and completion centres have developed a variety of innovative interior design concepts for the 787 VIP as well. Boeing does not design or install interiors in VIP airplanes. Boeing delivers VIP airplanes in so-called “”green”” condition, meaning the airplane does not have interior furnishings or exterior paint. Customers then work with certified designers and interior completion centres to develop personalized interiors. To date, undisclosed customers have ordered five 787 VIP airplanes — two 787-8s and three 787-9s — direct from Boeing. Two additional 787-8s are being provided to VIP customers through leasing companies. The first commercial version of the 787 is scheduled to make its first flight later this year.

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Bond Behaviour of FRP in Structures

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A special issue of the international journal Advances in Structural Engineering on Bond Behaviour of FRP in Structures has recently been published and is freely available.

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Polymer Nanofibers Could Mean Stronger Lighter Materials

4th February 2007 0 comments

Scientists at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology have shown that polymer nanofibres become much stronger when their diameters are below a certain size. Their research, published in the January issue of Nature Nanotechnology, could make possible stronger fabrics that use less material. Professor Eyal Zussman and Dr. Oleg Gendelman of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering have proposed an explanation for this surprising behaviour in very thin fibres. When the researchers measured the mechanical properties of nylon nanofibres, they found the critical diameter – the diameter at which the nylon nanofibre abruptly becomes stiffer – to be approximately 500 nanometers. They explained the abrupt increase in stiffness by considering the molecular structure inside the polymer fibre. According to Zussman, the polymer macromolecules try to align themselves when the fibre is forming, but their length makes it impossible for them to align uniformly throughout the entire nanofibre. As a result, the nanofibre is a patchwork of differently oriented macromolecule regions. The researchers calculated the size of these regions to be roughly the same as the critical diameter of the nanofibre (the diameter at which the fibre stiffness abruptly increases). “When the diameter of the fibre is much larger than the size of the oriented regions, the macromolecules can move relative to one another,” says Zussman. “But as the diameter of the fibre shrinks, these oriented regions become constrained and the macromolecules are unable to easily move relative to one another, and the resulting nanofibre is much stiffer.” Although Professor Zussman and his colleagues focused on a certain type of nanofibre, they say their basic physical idea will help scientists understand the novel physical properties of a wide range of nanofibres and other nanostructures. Practical applications include lighter protective vests and stronger fabrics. Also participating in the research, which is part of activities of the Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute at the Technion, were Dr. Arkadii Arinstein and graduate student Michael Burman.

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Researchers Probe Health and Safety Impacts of Nanotechnology

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University of Florida engineering student Maria Palazuelos is probing the potentially harmful effects of nanotechnology by testing how ultra-small particles may adversely affect living cells, organisms and the environment. Palazuelos is a member of a small interdisciplinary group of UF faculty members and students, the UF Nanotoxicology Group, whose work is rapidly becoming more timely as manufacturers increasingly turn to the super-small tubes, cylinders and other nanoparticles at the heart of nanotechnology. There are already more than 400 companies worldwide that tap nanoparticles and other forms of nanotechnology, and regulatory agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration are closely examining whether new regulations are needed to guard against potentially harmful but currently unknown effects, according to Kevin Powers, associate director of UF’s National Science Foundation Particle Engineering Research Center. “Before we start producing these materials in large quantities to go into everyday products, we should know what effect they have on our health and the environment,” he said. The UF group consists of about 10 faculty members and a half-dozen students from UF’s engineering, medical and veterinary colleges. With funding from UF and agencies including the EPA, National Science Foundation and the U.S. Air Force, the researchers have at least eight projects aimed at answering questions ranging from how nanoparticles affect fish to whether nanoparticles can penetrate skin. The researchers have presented several lectures at conferences and have several papers published or undergoing review. Powers said the health and environmental effects of common metals and materials are well-known. The question for the researchers is whether the effects change when the metals and materials take the form of nanoparticles – and whether these nanoparticles become more or less hazardous based on shape and size. “It’s complicated,” he said. “In many cases, we lack basic knowledge of the properties and the behaviour of the particles themselves.” Palazuelos is investigating what happens to living cells when confronted with aluminium nanoparticles. For the type of cells she has tested, the cells can readily absorb the aluminium nanoparticles, and there is a correlation between size, shape and toxicity. That said, Palazuelos stressed that it is far too early to conclude that aluminium nanoparticles are harmful to human health. Epidemiological studies evaluating years of exposure to aluminium in foundry workers and welders have not shown dramatic health effects as long as basic safety and exposure guidelines are followed, she said. “It is a long way from isolated tissue studies to the extrapolation of these results to human health,” she said. “However, a fundamental understanding of the nanoparticle-cell interactions will be very useful in this field.” Copper and some other metals are known to be toxic to fish and other aquatic wildlife. UF toxicologist David Barber is investigating whether nanoparticles made of these metals are more toxic than standard soluble forms of the metals. As part of his research, he has exposed zebra fish, a species commonly used in laboratory tests, to various concentrations of copper nanoparticles and compared the results with those induced by copper sulphate. His results so far show that the 30-nanometer, spherical copper nanoparticles are lethal to zebra fish, though less toxic than copper sulphate. However, the way the copper nanoparticles cause damage is different. “Both of them are causing lethality by affecting the gill,” Barber said. “The lesion is slightly different, and the gene expression response in the gills is very different.” Barber said he hopes to determine whether the size or shape of the nanoparticle is key to its effects. If that’s the case, it could mean a lot of work ahead for regulatory agencies. “Typically, when you test a chemical, the response is the same regardless of formulation. Aspirin is always aspirin,” Barber said. “If all of a sudden every time you change the size or the shape of a nanoparticle you have to retest it; that’s a lot of testing.”

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Bright Spots for Wood-Plastic Composites

4th February 2007 0 comments

The growth in overall demand for natural and wood fibre composites has slowed significantly to 5-10% per year, down from previous annual growth rates of 15% or more. Higher product prices, lower wood prices, and a slowdown in housing construction have contributed to the slower growth. The industry, however, remains optimistic about growth prospects based partly on the development of new lower priced-point composite products to compete with pressure-treated lumber. In addition, manufacturers including Trex, AERT, TimberTech, and Fiber Composites have either introduced new composite fencing products in 2006 or will in 2007. The fence industry is a relatively untapped new market for composites, and represents considerable potential for industry growth. This latest information is detailed in Principia Partners’ industry publication, Natural and Wood Fiber Composites Newsletter.

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Manure Products May Offer New Composite Materials

4th February 2007 0 comments

Michigan State University Extension educator Charles Gould is working on an idea that may help turn manure into environmentally friendly composite products for the construction industry. Gould has a vision for new lines of composite materials that use a combination of plastic and manure fibres, instead of the wood that comprises current fibreboard and other building supplies, to develop products for use in the construction of everything from playground equipment to homes. “There is a limited land base for manure application. Keeping Michigan’s livestock industry strong and viable means we have to find a home for the manure generated by these farms,” Gould said. “Why not make products from manure that benefit society, add value to the farming operation and at the same time, fit nicely into a sustainable manure management system?” Farmers looking for alternatives to land application can choose to compost manure. Composting reduces its volume, makes it a more stable fertilizer source and eliminates odour. Another option is to use an anaerobic digester, which breaks manure solids down into a sterile organic fibrous material and captures methane gas that can be used to produce electricity for the farm or sold to utility companies. After reading an article about how another university’s biological composites lab successfully combined the fibrous material from a digester with plastic to create composite materials, Gould realized the possibilities for Michigan. With a grant from the Michigan Biomass Energy Program, Gould and forestry professor Laurent Matuana hired undergraduate student Alex Cook to develop two prototype products. Those products included a digester fibre/plastic composite product that could be used as decking and a medium-density fibreboard. Then they were tested and compared to similar items made using wood fibre. The products made with fiber from a digester passed with flying colours, meeting or exceeding industry standards for properties such as strength, stiffness and internal bond. The digester fibre/plastic decking product performed better in tests against similar decking products made with wood/plastic. When two composite types were compared, the digester fibre/plastic decking product had properties that were superior to those of the wood product, including a darker colour which potentially could be more resistant to ultraviolet rays. During the production process, the fibres intertwine and increase the strength of resulting composites. This offers an advantage in areas such as load-bearing capacity or material strength. “The properties of the medium-density fibreboard met or exceeded standard requirements,” said Matuana. “We have shown that value-added products can be successfully manufactured from digester fibres.” Gould has already approached managers at two western Michigan home improvement retail chains to ascertain their feelings about carrying digester fibre/plastic decking or medium-density fibreboard made with the fibrous material from a digester. “They indicated a willingness to purchase the product even though it was made out of fibre once found in manure because they perceived the products to be green,” he said. The most common question asked was about odour, Gould said. Neither the fibre/plastic decking nor the medium-density fibreboard emits an odour.

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