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Composites Industry News

News for 14 January 2007


Microlight Tow Planes use Icotec Bolts

14th January 2007 0 comments

Microlight tow planes are using high-performance composite bolts in a primary load application. Microlight tow planes are considerably quieter, more energy efficient and less expensive than conventional glider tow planes, thanks to modern technology and extreme light weight construction. In Switzerland the microlight Ikarus C42 tow planes are being tested to further reduce weight and noise emission, using Icotec composite bolts. In the context of a competitive tender of the Swiss Gliders Association, their customer Robert Maag and his Engineering team are developing a rope winch that is unique due to its low weight and simple dismounting. After each test Maag’s team checked all the Icotec fastening systems for their torque and, despite the vibrating environment, the torque on the bolts did not change. They also found no adverse effects on the shear strength of the bolts.

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Researchers Improve Understanding of Nanotube Properties

14th January 2007 0 comments

Researchers at the California Institute of Technology have discovered through computer simulations that the bending of carbon nanotubes occurs differently from that of their macroscopic counterparts in significant ways. Rather than buckling immediately and squashing the hollow inner channel, the results show, the cross-section can be gradually flattened–a finding that could lead to applications in controlling the flow of fluids through real carbon nanotubes. The results are published in the current issue of the journal Physical Review Letters. According to Konstantinos Giapis, an associate professor of chemical engineering at Caltech and lead author of the paper, the size of nanotubes that he and postdoctoral scholar Oleksandr Kutana used for the simulation are between two and seven nanometers–or less than one-ten-thousandth the diameter of a human hair. Previous studies had focused on smaller nanotubes. When the slightly larger nanotubes are “”bent”” sufficiently in the simulation, Giapis explains, the walls meet when the two sides are brought close enough together, and an atomic attraction known as the van der Waals force causes the atoms of each side of the wall to stick together. This effectively clamps off the nanotube, stopping any flow of material within it until the tube is re-straightened. “”The results show that there is an intermediate regime where you can adjust the nanotube cross-section to your liking,”” Giapis says. “”This intermediate bending regime is important for nanofluidics.”” The end result, Giapis explains, is a new understanding of how it may be possible to control microflow in the emerging world of nanotechnology. “”The initial study was to understand how nanotubes bend and how their bending differs from that of macroscopic objects, but there are also practical applications. “”For future microfluidic devices, you’re going to need valves,”” he says. These devices could include everything from pharmaceutical-delivery systems to nano-inkjet printers.

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NIST Laser-Based Method Cleans Up Grubby Nanotubes

14th January 2007 0 comments

Before carbon nanotubes can fulfil their promise as ultrastrong fibers, better methods are needed for purifying raw nanotube materials. Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), have taken a step toward this goal by demonstrating a simple method of cleaning nanotubes using carefully calibrated laser pulses. When carbon nanotubes are synthesized by any of several processes, a significant amount of contaminants such as soot, graphite and other impurities also is formed. Purifying the product is an important issue for commercial application of nanotubes. In a forthcoming issue of Chemical Physics Letters, the NIST/NREL team describes how pulses from an excimer laser greatly reduce the amount of carbon impurities in a sample of bulk carbon single-walled nanotubes, without destroying tubes. Both visual examination and quantitative measurements of material structure and composition verify that the resulting sample is cleaner. The exact cleaning process may need to be slightly modified depending on how the nanotubes are made, the authors note, but the general approach is simpler and less costly than conventional wet chemistry processes, which can damage the tubes and also require removal of solvents afterwards. “Controlling and determining tube type is sort of the holy grail right now with carbon nanotubes. Purity is a key variable,” says NIST physicist John Lehman, who leads the research. “Over the last 15 years there’s been lots of promise, but when you buy some material you realize that a good percentage of it is not quite what you hoped. Anyone who thinks they’re going into business with nanotubes will realize that purification is an important and expensive step. There is a lot of work to be done.” The new method is believed to work because, if properly tuned, the laser light transfers energy to the vibrations and rotations in carbon molecules in both the nanotubes and contaminants. The nanotubes, however, are more stable, so most of the energy is transferred to the impurities, which then react readily with oxygen or ozone in the surrounding air and are eliminated. Success was measured by examining the energy profiles of the light scattered by the bulk nanotube sample after exposure to different excimer laser conditions. Each form of carbon produces a different signature. Changes in the light energy as the sample was exposed to higher laser power indicated a reduction in impurities. Before-and-after electron micrographs visually confirmed the initial presence of impurities as well as a darkening of the nanotubes post-treatment, suggesting less soot and increased porosity. The researchers developed the new method while looking for quantitative methods for evaluating laser damage to nanotube coatings for next-generation NIST standards for optical power measurements.

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Huntsman Completes Sale of Australian Polyester Resin Assets

14th January 2007 0 comments

Huntsman Chemical Company Australia has completed the previously announced sale of its Polyester Resins (composites) business assets to Nuplex Industries for A$9.6 million (approx. U.S.$7.5 million). Added to the value of inventory and other stock in trade at the completion date, the total transaction value is A$20.3 million, subject to post closing adjustments. The assets sold include Huntsman’s polyesters, vinylesters and gelcoats manufacturing assets. Annual sales from the business total approximately A$53 million. Financial performance of the business for Huntsman had been modest. Kimo Esplin, Huntsman’s Chief Financial Officer, said, “”The completion of this transaction follows our December 29 announcement of the sale of our European commodity chemicals business to Saudi Basic Industries Corporation. We continue to review our portfolio for opportunities to create shareholder value as we pay down debt and focus on our differentiated products.””

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Simulayt Appoints Ryoyu Systems as Its Japanese Distributor

14th January 2007 0 comments

Simulayt, the composites modelling software house has appointed Ryoyu Systems of Tokyo as the Japanese distributor of its Advanced Fiber Modeller product. Dr John Klintworth, CEO of Simulayt commented “We are very pleased to have found an experienced partner in Japan with which we can work so synergistically and which understands our product so well. Ryoyu has an established pedigree as a reseller of CATIA and can take full advantage of the rapidly growing composites market in Japan.” Ryoyu PLM technical manager Kiichi Koga said “ We are delighted that Simulayt has chosen us as its AFM reseller in Japan because this further enhances our position as the number one CATIA composites reseller in the territory and enables us to provide a unique bundle of products and services to companies working with composite materials”. AFM allows instantaneous generation of flat patterns as a check on fibre simulation, and allows the user to simulate material application with accuracy using a seed curve or order of drape regions. The seed curve capability allows the user to guide warp, weft or bias directions along a curve to constrain the fiber directions along a chosen path. The order of drape capability models the sequential application of fabric to a surface to allow highly accurate modelling and the generation of complete manufacturing data. These capabilities are integrated within the CATIA V5 Composites Workbench, to provide the most powerful, end-to-end composites design and manufacturing capabilities within the CATIA V5 environment. Toray Industries of Japan has also recently purchased Advanced Fiber Modeler.

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Professional Plastics to Offer Composite Manufacturing Supplies

14th January 2007 0 comments

Professional Plastics has teamed up with De-Comp Composite to offer a full-line of composite manufacturing support materials. Through the partnership with Professional Plastics, the companies will offer; Vacuum Bag Films; Release Films, Liquids, and Fabrics; Adhesive and Sealant Tapes; Autoclave Valves and Hoses; Castable Urethane Elastomer; Tooling Resins, and Tool Support Structures. Under the terms of the agreement, DeComp will provide materials and technical support while Professional Plastics will handle local stock and logistical sales and marketing support. Professional Plastics maintains 12 warehouses nationwide and operates in California, Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Texas, Colorado, Montana, Utah and New York. The arrangement encompasses the complete line of DeComp products which covers nearly all aspects of composite structure and tooling manufacturing. DeComp’s technical support provides practical experience and training in tooling, manufacturing, lay-up, and engineering of composite structures.

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RTP Company Announces Long Fiber Thermoplastics Availability at China Facility

14th January 2007 0 comments

RTP has added multiple long fibre-reinforced thermoplastic (LFRT) production lines at its Suzhou, China manufacturing facility, based on various resin systems including nylon and polypropylene. “”The new LFRT lines will support our rapidly-growing automotive and industrial customer base in China along with offering long fibre technology to other markets for applications requiring higher strength at lighter weights,”” said Joe Kluck, Executive Vice President at RTP Company. RTP Company’s 16,000 square meter (170,000 square feet) manufacturing plant in Suzhou, China was opened in December 2005. RTP Company significantly expanded its LFRT capabilities earlier this year with the opening of a long fibre facility near its Winona, Minnesota headquarters. RTP Company also installed additional long fibre lines at several of its worldwide operations in 2006 and introduced a broader long fibre product offering.

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New Composite Division for Helitech Corporation

14th January 2007 0 comments

Helitech corporation recently purchased the Ferndale Advanced Composite fabrication facility, building K from Dynacomp Corporation, the new division to be called HT Aerospace Technologies. The facility has operated from the NW Washington area for more than 6 years, developing and fabricating advanced composite structures. The modern facility features a new 6 x 10 ft, high-pressure autoclave, clean room, paint and chemical etching capabilities. HT Aerospace Technologies is capable of fabricating advanced structures using composite and metallic materials. Current plans are to expand the facility and capabilities to accommodate advancing technologies.

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Boeing Closer to Assembling First 787 Dreamliner

14th January 2007 0 comments

Boeing is showing steady progress toward building the first 787 Dreamliner with the rollout of its second specially-modified freighter and a successful first pickup of 787 parts from Japan. The load consists of section 43, a forward fuselage section made by Kawasaki Heavy Industries, and section 11/45, the centre wheel well and centre wing tank, made by KHI and Fuji Heavy Industries and joined at FHI. These were loaded onto the first 747-400 Large Cargo Freighter – now known as the Dreamlifter – destined for Charleston, S.C. “”Today is an exciting day for Boeing and our Japanese partners,”” said Scott Strode, 787 vice president of Airplane Development and Production. “”Transporting these parts from FHI and KHI is the first step in assembling the first 787. We’re very pleased with how it went and with the quality of the parts received.”” In another sign of production readiness, the second Dreamlifter rolled out of the hangar on 7th January in Taipei, Taiwan, sporting its distinctive new white and blue livery. The aircraft will take its first flight in the next few weeks. Three Dreamlifters are being modified by Evergreen Aviation Technologies Corporation at its facility at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.

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Hanwei Energy Services Raises Money for Expansion

14th January 2007 0 comments

Hanwei Energy Services has closed a private placement of shares to raise $2,250,000, to be used for FRP plant expansion, marketing and working capital. Hanwei is positioning itself to become a leading provider of FRP pipes and related products and services to the oil and gas industry in China and Asia. The proceeds of the private placement will be used as follows: $1,050,000 for Plant Expansion and Research & Development, as set out below; $200,000 to expand sales & marketing in China, $600,000 for Canadian office and public company expenses and $400,000 of additional working capital. In 2006, the Company estimates that it sold more than 1,600 kms of Fibreglass Reinforced Plastic (“”FRP””) pipe generating over $23 million in sales revenue, a 45% increase compared with 2005 sales revenue. In 2007, the Company plans to increase annual capacity at its Daqing FRP pipe plant from 2,000 km to 2,400 km at cost of approximately $600,000. Its research and development team has developed new products and improved the quality of existing products through design and material innovations. The Company, through subsidiary Daqing Harvest Longwall High Pressure FRP Pipe Co. Ltd. (Harvest), expects to expand Harvest’s Research & Development department and budget to approximately $450,000 during the next 12 months in order to develop new products to complement its existing FRP pipe products, enhance its product offering and create additional revenue potential from new and existing customers. The research and development is focused on three main projects: FRP down-well pipe for water transmission, fibreglass-insulated steel pipe for down-well and ground applications and FRP pipe for ship building applications. Harvest expects that it will be able to produce commercial products for FRP down-well water transmission and fibreglass-insulated steel pipe within 12 months. The ship building pipe is expected to be at the product design, prototyping and certification stage within 12 months. The Company plans to grow its business by diversifying its customer base with a goal of increasing revenues and reducing its reliance on key customers. To this end, it has commenced marketing activities to attract prospective customers in other regions of China and is studying regional markets in Asia such as Russia and Kazakhstan. In addition, the Company plans to grow revenues by expanding its product offering to include new pipe products and related oil & gas products and services.

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