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Composites Industry News

News for 24 June 2007


Nanotube Adhesive Sticks Better Than a Gecko’s Foot

24th June 2007 0 comments

Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the University of Akron have developed a process for making polymer surfaces covered with carbon nanotube hairs, imitating the thousands of microscopic hairs on a gecko’s footpad. The hairs on a gecko’s footpad form weak bonds with whatever surface the creature touches, allowing it to unstick itself simply by shifting its foot. For the first time, the team has developed a prototype flexible patch that can stick and unstick repeatedly with properties better than the natural gecko foot. They fashioned their material into an adhesive tape that can be used on a wide variety of surfaces, including Teflon. Pulickel Ajayan, the Henry Burlage Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Rensselaer, and Lijie Ci, a postdoctoral research associate in Ajayan’s lab, created the material in collaboration with Ali Dhinojwala, professor of polymer science at the University of Akron, and University of Akron graduate students Liehui Ge and Sunny Sethi. “Several people have tried to use carbon nanotube films and other fibrous structures as high-adhesive surfaces and to mimic gecko feet, but with limited success when it comes to realistic demonstrations of the stickiness and reversibility that one sees in gecko feet,” Ajayan said. “We have shown that the patchy structures from micropatterned nanotubes are essential for this unique engineering feat to work. The nanotubes also need to be the right kind, with the right dimensions and compliance.” “Geckos inspired us to develop a synthetic gecko tape unlike any you’ll find in a hardware store,” Dhinojwala says. “Synthetic gecko tape uses ‘van der Waals interactions’ — the same interactions that hold liquids and solids together — to stick to a variety of surfaces without using sticky glues.” The material could have a number of applications, including feet for wall-climbing robots; a dry, reversible adhesive in electronic devices; and outer space, where most adhesives don’t work because of the vacuum. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation and detailed in a paper published in the June 18–22 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

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Quickstep Delivers Benefits in Nanotechnology Composite Production

24th June 2007 0 comments

New research from VCAMM shows the Quickstep manufacturing process can result in improvements in the structure of nanocomposite materials, leading to enhanced performance characteristics. The research was conducted by the Victorian Centre for Advanced Materials Manufacturing (VCAMM) in Australia in conjunction with the Australian Nuclear Science & Technology Organisation (ANSTO), which has independently verified all research conducted to date. The project was selected by ANSTO to be completed under the organisation’s prestigious research scholarship programme. Dr Bronwyn Fox, who heads the team of composites researchers at VCAMM, said Quickstep’s manufacturing technique resulted in a more even separation of the nano sized particles throughout the composite material, significantly enhancing their overall effect. “Our research has focused on comparing the structure of clay platelet particles in epoxy thermoset materials manufactured using different processing techniques,” she said. “Preliminary results indicate that the mechanical vibrations used in the Quickstep Process assist in separation, ensuring the platelets are evenly separated throughout the composite material. Faster heating also allows the polymer to get in between the clay platelets to further improve separation.” “Improved particle separation enhances the overall quality of the nanocomposite product,” Dr Fox continued. “When examining fire retardation properties, our research shows that using the Quickstep Process should lead to significant improvements in performance characteristics.” Quickstep’s Managing Director, Mr Nick Noble, said the research had exciting implications for the Company’s core strategy of securing manufacturing contracts and joint ventures with aerospace and automotive OEMs and their Tier One suppliers. “Nanocomposite production is a massive growth area in the global composites industry,” he said. “If VCAMM’s research does conclusively prove that the Quickstep Process can offer key enhancements to the characteristics of nanocomposite materials, this would be a major new drawcard in attracting aerospace and automotive manufacturers to the technology.” Dr Fox commented that the research may revolutionise the nanocomposites industry: “Quickstep has already demonstrated its ability to manufacture cheap nanocomposite materials at a faster rate than other processing techniques. If we can also prove that Quickstep delivers higher-quality nanocomposite products, I believe it would open up a major new market opportunity.”

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Polinox MEKP Capacity Expansion

24th June 2007 0 comments

Brazil’s largest producer of organic peroxides and mould release waxes, Polinox will increase its production capacity for methyl ethyl ketone peroxide (MEKP) by 50%. “Based on the new distillation column, we will have a nominal capacity of 180 tons per month”, said Roberto Pontifex, Director. According to the Polinox timetable, the expansion should be concluded in around 45 days. “We are going to increase our average stocks, which will eliminate any possibility of market supply gaps during the peak demand phases”, explained Pontifex. The expansion also allows Polinox to operate two fully independent plants separated by different bunkers. “This increases staff security and avoids production interruptions”, he said. The bunkers are walls made of concrete and steel used to isolate the peroxide production area.

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Acquisition of Estonian Distribution Business

24th June 2007 0 comments

Umeco’s Composite Division subsidiary company, GRPMS, has agreed to acquire the Estonian distribution business of Ashland Composite Polymers. The purchase price is £0.2 million subject to inventory value adjustment on completion. The acquisition is expected to complete on 31st August 2007. GRPMS has also agreed to a sole distribution agreement with Ashland, a leading worldwide resin and gelcoat supplier, in Estonia. The existing distribution agreement between Ashland and GRPMS with respect to the UK, Ireland and Scandinavia will remain unchanged. On a pro-forma basis the acquired business had sales for the 12 months ended 31st September 2006 of £1.3m. GRPMS expects to grow the sales of both Ashland and third-party products, based upon its wide ranging supplier relationships developed through its UK and Scandinavian based businesses. The purchase price is £0.2 million subject to inventory value adjustment on completion. The acquisition is expected to complete on 31st August 2007 Tony Bibby, Managing Director of GRPMS, said: “We are delighted to announce this acquisition and the related distribution agreement with Ashland. Estonia is a growth region and we are now well placed to play an integral part in that market growth.”

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CTG wins Oxfordshire Business of the Year Award

24th June 2007 0 comments

CTG have been awarded the Oxfordshire business of the year award for 2007 at an awards ceremony in Oxford. The Banbury-based technology company design, develop and manufacture high performance composite products for the motorsport, medical imaging and aerospace industries. CTG came runners-up in both the innovation and growing business awards, but it was the prestigious Oxfordshire business of the year 2007 that they went away with. Managing director Scott Roberts said, “”Being nominated for the innovation and growing business awards was a great achievement, but to win the biggest award of the night is incredible. This is great recognition for everyone that works at CTG, because without the fantastic people we employ this would simply not be possible.”” CTG has seen rapid growth over the last 18 months, 26 new people were employed in 2006 with 17 already this year with more planned. This award also comes in the same year that CTG were awarded the highly sought-after aerospace quality standard mark of AS9100.

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JPS to Acquire Reinforcements Business of Hexcel

24th June 2007 0 comments

JPS Industries has agreed to acquire Hexcel’s fibreglass based electronics and specialty industrial substrates businesses in addition to their aramid based ballistics substrates business. The assets comprise the Anderson, South Carolina and Statesville, North Carolina operations of Hexcel. “”This transaction represents a landmark event in the history of JPS Industries and an opportunity to provide significant value to JPS, its customers and its stockholders,”” said Michael L. Fulbright, Chairman and CEO of JPS, adding, “”We believe that Hexcel’s employees, facilities, and product lines complement our existing operations quite well and adding these resources into our existing business will create a much stronger operating entity. This combination provides our JPS Composite Materials business, led by M. Gary Wallace, President, with significant resources to grow and better serve our existing markets and customers with larger, more flexible manufacturing capabilities, stronger R&D efforts across all product lines and, importantly, gives us entry to several new markets. The customers and markets of the new JPS Composites will span many industries and specialty applications including, but not limited to: electronics applications including printed circuit boards, communication devices and internet infrastructure components, advanced composite materials for aerospace components in military and commercial applications, specialty substrates for commercial and residential construction, industrial filtration, and insulation products, high performance fibreglass substrates for security and transportation applications, and, importantly, ballistics materials used in soft body armour for civilian and military applications.”” Charles R. “”Chuck”” Tutterow, EVP and CFO of JPS Industries and President of Stevens Urethane added, “”The acquisition will be financed with a new $105 million senior and second lien credit facility arranged by Wachovia. After closing, we anticipate that the new JPS Industries will have annual sales in excess of $325 million originating from five manufacturing facilities in our three main business units: Composite Materials, Stevens Roofing and Stevens Urethane. Commenting further, Mr. Fulbright stated, “”This represents the first of several planned growth objectives involving each of our three business units in the form of organic growth, product line extensions and potentially other acquisition opportunities.”” The consideration includes a cash purchase price of $62.5 million, plus a contingent earn-out payment of up to $12.5 million based on revenues generated from sales of ballistics products from those facilities over the 36-month period following consummation of the acquisition.

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NCC’S New Materials Testing Laboratory

24th June 2007 0 comments

The National Composite Center (NCC) now has a materials testing laboratory equipped to meet mechanical, optical and thermal composite testing needs. The centre’s test lab allows companies to conduct preliminary evaluation of new materials and designs before making a substantial investment in certified testing. With the centre’s hydraulic test machine, customers can evaluate tensile, compressive, flexural and shear characteristics for loads up to 100,000 pounds in a controlled laboratory environment. Testing at elevated temperatures is also available. NCC’s large scale test machine can accommodate parts up to 16 feet by 54 inches for progressive durability analysis along with fatigue, static and creep testing. This mechanical testing capability is especially suited to parts like bridge deck panels or I-beams, which would otherwise be difficult to evaluate as a complete unit or system. The centre’s experience in development and implementation of innovative test methods and custom fixture design also allows NCC to support requests for tests that do not conform to standardized methods. NCC’s optical microscope can be used for failure mode analysis and processing quality evaluations. Capabilities include general analysis, particle size verification and void content evaluation as well as services such as specimen mounting and polishing. NCC has also made a significant capital investment in thermal testing equipment. From TA Instruments, NCC’s lineup includes dynamic mechanical, thermomechanical and thermogravimetric analyzers. In addition, NCC’s Test Lab is a vital component of the centre’s expanding role in nanotechnology. Recent equipment expenditures include a portable ultrafine particle counter to monitor exposure during nanomaterial handling and processing, as well as the capability to measure the thickness of nanomembranes or buckypaper.

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ACMA 15th Annual Awards for Composites Excellence

24th June 2007 0 comments

The American Composites Manufacturers Association (ACMA) is calling composites manufacturers to submit innovative, unique, and specialty products for the 2007 Awards for Composites Excellence (ACE) Product Showcase and Competition. The awards will be held during Composites & Polycon 2007, October 17-19, 2007 at the Tampa Convention Center, Tampa, Florida. This competition aims to distinguish design and manufacturing capabilities to the global composites industry. The ACE competition recognizes technology achievement and excellence in composites manufacturing in all market applications. A panel of distinguished composites industry experts will judge the competition. Awards are presented to companies whose products are judged to have significant market impact and presence while exemplifying the use of composites and making the entry superior in design and engineering. Award categories include: Infinite Possibility; Superior Quality in an Open Molded Part; Process Innovation; Most Creative Application; and Technical Innovation for Corrosion Applications. Top industry awards are the Best of Show and People’s Choice. Only manufacturers of finished composites products are eligible to enter the ACE Competition. There is no fee and no limit to the number of products submitted by a single company. Both ACMA members and non-members are welcome to submit an entry. The actual product must be present at the competition for viewing and judging. ACE winners will be awarded at Composites & Polycon 2007 and featured on the ACMA website and in press releases directed to industry press and end user publications.

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Vermont Composites Acquires New Autoclaves

24th June 2007 0 comments

Vermont Composites has completed the acquisition and installation of two new autoclaves to support its composite fabrication business. “This new equipment will allow us to better manage production of existing programs and will offer us a competitive advantage in pursuing new business opportunities”, said company General Manager, Jim Sharkey. “We are excited about the potential for growth.” Vermont Composites’ two new autoclaves are equipped with state-of-the-art computer control over all process variables, including heat up rate, dwell time, variable pressurization and controlled cooling. The larger autoclave has a working size of 8 feet in diameter and 35 feet in length. The second autoclave is 4 feet by 8 feet. Both of these curing vessels can achieve temperatures up to 450 degrees F and pressures up to 150 PSI.

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New European Aerospace Composite Partnership

24th June 2007 0 comments

Teams from Aerospace Valley, based in Toulouse (France), FAC of Farnborough (UK) and Hanse Aerospace of Hamburg (Germany) have agreed a collaborative venture to respond to the current and future global demand for composite design and manufacturing capacity. The objectives of the collaboration between the three bodies are to identify and define the available capacity in France, Germany and the UK, to pursue funding opportunities to develop composite technologies (specifically in the areas of new design approaches, low cost tooling, manufacturing processes and environmentally compliant disposal technologies) and to develop the skills and processes that would be essential to exploit the investment in technology and to meet the demands of the global aerospace industry. It is intended that the the initial plan will be implemented by September 2007. Commenting on the agreement, Francois Jouaillec of Aerospace Valley said, “The development of composite components and tooling is paramount in all organisations. Co-operation will ensure that businesses in the three countries will be able to keep pace with world wide demand and ultimately be more competitive within all global market places.” Ralph-G Matzen of Hanse Aerospace added, “I see this agreement with Aerospace Valley and FAC as generating real results for all members companies, which will also benefit the wider European supply chain. The strategic agreement will assist us with monitoring of raw material supply and ultimately keep down costs.” Finally Ross Bradley of FAC, “The aviation industry is critical both strategically and economically to the future of Europe. The engineering and scientific resources available to us must be maximised to ensure we not only retain the European share of this global market but strive to grow it as well. This agreement today is a great start in achieving this.”

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