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Composites Industry News

News for March 2007


The Lotus 2-Eleven for Serious Track Day Driving

7th March 2007 0 comments

Lotus Sport, the race car performance arm of Lotus Cars Ltd, unveils the new Lotus 2-Eleven at the 77th annual Geneva International Motor Show.

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Univar to Distribute Additional Reichhold Materials

7th March 2007 0 comments

Reichhold has named chemicals distributor Univar as the company’s new distribution partner for polyester resins, gel coats, bonding paste and auxiliary products in the United Kingdom.

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UL Certifies Ara Ashland Resin for the Production of Fuel Tanks

7th March 2007 0 comments

A Brazilian company has received certification from the international agency Underwriters Laboratories (UL) for a thermoset resin for the production of fuel tanks. Responsible for this accomplishment was Ara Ashland, which has been manufacturing the isophthalic grade of heavy molecular weight Aropol 7241T in Araçariguama (SP). “We have also obtained approval for the composite, that is, the resin combined with the mechanical reinforcement provided by the national fibreglass producers Owens Corning and Saint-Gobain Vetrotex”, commented Rodrigo de Oliveira, sales manager of Ara Ashland. The isophthalic Aropol 7241T resin has already received international certifications for application in fuel tanks, because it is traditionally processed by North American, European and Asian clients of Ashland. Ara Ashland is a company resulting from a joint venture entered into in 1999 between the Brazilian company Ara Química and the American company Ashland. “However, the conditions of use for resin in Brazil are more rigorous because of the higher presence of alcohol in the composition of our gasoline. This is why we decided to subject Aropol 7241T to the demands of rule NBR 13785 of ABNT-UL 1746”, explains Oliveira. The Aropol 7241T grade is enabling the manufacture of composite jackets (resin + fiberglass) that enclose the primary steel tanks. “Between the steel tank and the composite jacket, there must be an opening to detect leakage”, explains Márcia Cardoso, technical manager of Ara Ashland. Besides the chemical assault caused by fuel which might possibly leak from the steel tank, as Marcia further explains, the composite jacket must resist corrosion caused by the soil. “”Which can be as intense as an assault of stored gasoline or oil”, she says.

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Oxeon Moves to New Larger Facility

7th March 2007 0 comments

With new investments in large volume capacity for TeXtreme spread tow carbon fabrics and TeXero UD tapes to meet the growing demand, Oxeon has moved to a new and larger facility in Borås, Sweden. TeXtreme fabrics and TeXero UD tapes have been evaluated by several manufacturers and is now well accepted in several high-end composite material applications. The large facility for new machines will enable Oxeon to supply its high performance TeXtreme and TeXero reinforcements to the customers in large volumes. The move to new facilities is in line with Oxeon’s expansion plans to become one of the leading suppliers of high performance carbon reinforcements for the advanced composite materials industry. Oxeon produces and sells spread tow woven carbon fabrics TeXtreme and spread UD tapes TeXero. Oxeon’s novel spreading and weaving technologies enable production of very light weight (from 80 gsm) and high performance fabrics even from large tows (12k and higher).

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Sheltering Shelters

7th March 2007 0 comments

The Natick Soldier Center (NSC) has partnered with the Advanced Engineered Wood Composites (AEWC) Center at the University of Maine to develop a composite armour panel system that can be integrated easily into standard soft-walled shelter frames. The Modular Ballistic Protection System (MBPS) is designed to protect against indirect fire such as lethal mortar fragmentation while withstanding the secondary blast pressure from a mortar explosion. “”The Modular Ballistic Protection System is a key advancement in the defense against indirect fire. Armor systems should be designed with mobility, time, and manpower in mind; thereby protecting Soldiers without overburdening them. The MBPS does just that. It is lightweight, quickly deployable, and provides Soldiers with enhanced ballistic protection where it never existed before – their tents,”” said Ryan Devine, NSC engineer. Devine added that the panels are placed inside the shelter skin, preventing the shelter from being easily identified as a high-value target. The MBPS panels are a sandwich design. The outer layers are made of E-glass, a ballistic armor material. The E-glass surrounds a core of oriented-strand board. “”The E-glass is what gives the panels their ballistic effectiveness. The wood core is what gives the panel additional flexural strength,”” said Devine. “”Mortar attack modelling has indicated that the MBPS would protect against more than 99 percent of mortar fragments,”” added Devine. “”NSC has worked to greatly enhance the fragmentation model so that instead of just giving a percentage of fragments defeated, we will give an actual injury profile that predicts the level of injury throughout the detonation area both with and without MBPS protection.”” Protection provided by the MBPS is not equal to heavy-duty armour systems like concrete barriers. However, the MBPS has many benefits that heavy-duty armour systems do not, such as being lightweight, portable, and reusable, all while providing outstanding ballistic protection. According to Devine, the MBPS requires no modification to a frame, no additional anchoring, and no special tools to install. The panels are attached using a strap and buckle system, and each 8-foot module can be installed by four Soldiers in 15 minutes. NSC plans to make ongoing improvements to the MBPS. The panels have already been modified so they can be seamlessly integrated into Force Provider tent camps, the armour composite itself is being continuously tested and refined, and more user-friendly integration methods are a constant pursuit. NSC is working on a quick deployment of a prototype system to a combat zone.

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Overman Moves to New Location and Expands Capability in Composites

7th March 2007 0 comments

Overman & Associates has moved to new offices at the National Composite Center (NCC) Headquarters facility in Dayton, Ohio. “With the new location we’ve been able to enhance our capability to meet customers’ needs for ISO Consulting and training in 9001:2000, ISO 13485, ISO 14001:2004, ISO 17025:2005, AS 9100B:2004, and TS 16949:2002 as well as Top Down Analysis, Six Sigma and Lean Manufacturing,” said Don Overman, President. “In addition to helping companies increase sales, we’re able to help manufacturers keep pace with the demand while remaining profitable through tools like process improvement.” Overman’s expertise allows the company to help composite manufacturers get certified quickly as well as providing regular training at NCC to help the composite industry properly maintain their certification. In addition to quality solutions, Overman also helps composite manufacturers implement lean manufacturing elements to increase productivity and part quality. Overman’s new location also allows the company to offer customers a state-of-the art training facility. Overman plans to hold monthly training classes but is also able to provide on-site training tailored to customers’ individual needs.

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Patricia Washburn Appointed ACMA Deputy Chief Staff Executive and ICPA Managing Director

7th March 2007 0 comments

With twenty-eight years of management experience, the American Composites Manufacturers Association’s (ACMA) new Deputy Chief Staff Executive, Patricia Washburn, will oversee all administrative activities of the Association. Washburn comes from the IRS and the Office of Personnel Management with a strong background in Federal State Relations, examination, personnel, quality improvement, customer service and appeals. After graduation from Fontbonne University in St. Louis, Mo., Washburn spent three years as a tax auditor and then began her management career at the IRS and Office of Personnel Management. She took on her new position at ACMA in December. “”I am very excited to begin this new position and become a part of such a dynamic organization,”” Washburn said. “”There are many challenges and opportunities here at ACMA, and I am confident my background and experience can bring a new and fresh perspective on issues facing the association and the industry. I am looking forward to the work ahead and working with ACMA’s bright, energetic and experienced staff.”” Washburn will serve as Managing Director for the International Cast Polymer Alliance (ICPA) of the ACMA, including acting as a primary point of contact with the Board of Directors and various committees within the ICPA to ensure the mission and objectives are carried out through the resources of ACMA. Additionally, Washburn will oversee convention planning, membership recruitment and retention, and certification. She will attend key industry events and Board meetings, regional events and the annual convention, Composites & Polycon, in order to strengthen relationships between regions of ICPA and the national organization.

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Power8 Prepares Way for Airbus

7th March 2007 0 comments

Airbus has presented the details of its Power8 restructuring plan to the Airbus European Works Council and announced the creation of a new industrial and operating structure for the company. Airbus say that Power8 will enable them to face the very substantial challenge of the US dollar weakness, increased competitive pressure, the financial burden related to the A380 delays as well as meet its other future investment needs. Power8 provides for strong cost-cutting measures, aims at transforming the Airbus business model and the development of a global network of partners. It will allow Airbus to devote its resources to core activities and eliminate inefficiencies within its current structure. The programme aims at the full industrial integration of Airbus by establishing a new industrial organization with transnational Centres of Excellence replacing the existing national structures. This transformation will happen progressively over several years and includes the further extension of Airbus’ global footprint. A large part of the cost savings will be achieved through reducing the total Airbus overhead workforce (including temporary and on-site supplier workforce) by 10,000. In the future, Airbus will focus on core business activities that are critical for the integrity and safety of the aircraft, or vital for technological and commercial differentiation, for the operability and reliability of the aircraft and its maturity at entry into service. These activities include overall aircraft and cabin architecture, systems integration, as well as the design, assembly, installation, equipping, customization and testing of major and complex components or manufacturing of new technology parts. This core activity focus will be implemented in the make or buy strategy adopted for the A350 XWB. About 50 per cent of aerostructure work will be outsourced to risk-sharing partners. This is proportionally about twice as much as in earlier programmes. The workshare responsibility for the development of the A350 XWB will be split equitably among the founding nations with about 35 percent for Germany and France, 20 per cent for the UK and 10 per cent for Spain. Airbus will restructure its industrial set up and establish in the coming years a long-term oriented network with strong partners. This will allow Airbus to share development costs as well as engineering resources. “”We will turn Airbus into an extended enterprise. The A350 XWB will draw on this new business model, as we assign large work packages to Tier 1 suppliers in return for a better distribution of future investment, risks and opportunities, with a consolidated supply base,”” Mr. Gallois, Airbus President and CEO, said. Airbus is considering industrial partnerships at its plants in Filton, Meaulte and Nordenham, in order to facilitate their development from metallic to composite design and manufacturing technology. The company has already received unsolicited proposals by potential industrial partners ready to invest in these sites and to possibly take partially or fully the control of them in the framework of the extended enterprise concept. The A350 XWB will be assembled and receive its interior furnishing in Toulouse, in the same facilities as the current A330/A340. Concluding his comments, Louis Gallois said: “”None of these changes will be easy, but they are essential to securing the future of Airbus as a world-leading aircraft manufacturer for the long-term, and a business of which all its stakeholders can be rightly proud.””

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New Major UK Player in Composites Formed

7th March 2007 0 comments

Express Composites Group has completed the acquisition of Racing Technologies Norfolk (rtn) from the Audi Group for an undisclosed sum. A new facility for the expanded Group is under construction in Norfolk, UK near Express’ current site. Express’ roll call of aerospace clients already includes Airbus, BAe Systems, EADS and Rolls Royce and automotive clients such as Aston Martin, Lotus Cars, Scania Bussars, DAF Trucks and Unipart. Newly acquired rtn specialises in advanced composites design, engineering and rapid prototyping with an impressive track record in the motorsport sector, including the construction of the Le Mans winning Bentley in 2004. Express is planning to launch a business development strategy to acquire new clients in the defence, marine and telecommunications sectors, building upon its track record in the aerospace, automotive and motorsport arenas. The group is one of only a few suppliers in Europe that can offer a complete suite of services, from design and consultancy to low and medium volume engineering and manufacturing of composite components. The newly-created Group employs more than 150 staff at its current sites in Norfolk UK and expects sales of £10 million in the current year. Trevor Cox, Managing Director, Express Composites Group, said: “”These are exciting times for us with a brand new, state-of-the art facility under construction and the expansion of our capabilities with the acquisition of rtn. As a leading full service provider of advanced composites technologies, engineering and manufacturing solutions to automotive and aerospace clients around the world, we look forward to delivering the same exceptional cost-performance proposition to our new target industry sectors.”” David Coates, Managing Director, rtn, said: “”Joining forces with Express Composites Group is a dream come true for us. The opportunity to combine our design, engineering and prototyping expertise in carbon fibre and other composites with leading edge volume production will provide our customers and new clients with a world-class service.””

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Strongwell Corporation Expands Its Manufacturing Capacity

7th March 2007 0 comments

Strongwell is expanding its Bristol and Highlands divisions to accommodate its rapid growth in sales of fibre reinforced polymer composite materials. Strongwell recently acquired property adjacent to its largest plant in Bristol, Virginia. The new property includes acreage for parking and material staging as well as a 15,085 sq. ft. building. This increases the Bristol Division’s floor space to 375,000 sq. ft. The new building has already been adapted and partially equipped to facilitate more fabrication and preparation work on cooling tower components. This addition supplements Strongwell’s existing space commitment to those functions. Additionally, and on a larger scale, Strongwell will expand its Highlands Division plant in Washington County, Virginia. Plans are nearing completion for a 57,000 sq. ft. addition to the 85,000 sq. ft. plant which is located on 37 acres of Strongwell property adjacent to Interstate 81. Construction is expected to start in May and be completed in the third quarter of 2007. The Highlands plant, built in 1997, was built with future “quick expand” capability in mind. Strongwell is a privately-held company, producing products including structural shapes, grating, handrail, structural building panels, decking systems, fibreglass ladder rail, composite armour, and many OEM parts for its diverse customer base.

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