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Composites Industry News

News for 23 September 2007


World’s First Deep Sea Environmental Platforms Showcased

23rd September 2007 0 comments

The world’s first system to monitor deep-sea marine life in the long-term was unveiled at the University of Aberdeen last week. In a pioneering link up involving industry and leading scientific organisations, two massive environmental monitoring platforms with GRP structures have been constructed for BP for installation on the ocean floor at 1400m depth off Angola. As well as acting as an environmental gauge for BP, these subsea platforms will help unravel many of the mysteries of the deep, observing the activity patterns of unusual creatures, rarely studied before, in their natural environment. World demand and technological advances have prompted the hydrocarbon industry to extend into deeper waters where little is known about environmental impacts on marine animals. Today representatives from industry, the science community and environmental bodies will be shown DELOS – Deep-ocean Environmental Long-term Observatory System – which will significantly contribute to fill that knowledge gap. DELOS will provide information on the deep sea environment over the next 25 years. The platforms – each as heavy as the ocean’s largest living fish, the whale shark, which can weigh in at 12 tonnes – are being placed in BP’s Block 18. One will be sited near field – within 50 metres of a wellhead – and the other five miles from any offshore activity. The second platform will act as a control with data gathered here compared with data gathered near field. Jim Clarke, Project Manager of Local Environmental Impact at BP, said: “”BP has a substantial portfolio of assets in deep water areas which is growing all the time. Technological developments are allowing us to explore in deeper and deeper water. “”However, at the same time, there is limited understanding of impacts beyond the Continental Shelf, both from the industry side as well as within the scientific community. We hope DELOS will go some way to redress that.”” Professor Monty Priede, Director of the University of Aberdeen’s Oceanlab, said: “”I am sure that DELOS will enable us to make fundamental new scientific discoveries about life in the deep sea.”” Novel technologies have been used to create DELOS which has to be robust enough to withstand the enormous pressure that comes from being 1400 metres below the surface. The platforms comprise two parts – a sea floor docking station that remains on the sea floor – and a number of removable observatory modules that are designed to perform specific environmental monitoring functions. The modules have been designed to have sufficient capacity and battery power to function for six months. Remotely operated vehicles will then recover modules from the docking stations and take them to the surface to allow data to be fed to scientists and for servicing of the modules. Dr Phil Bagley of Oceanlab is responsible for the design of DELOS which has been created using non-corrosive glass reinforced plastic, supplied by Exel Composites UK, which has never before been used at these depths and in this way. Over 10,000 super duplex bolts have been used to connect up the components. Dr Bagley said: “”This is an exciting opportunity that builds upon our 20 years of experience of designing and building deep ocean systems for biological research and is a valuable asset to our increasing commercial business. “”Driven by BP’s forward looking approach to environmental issues the long term monitoring platform will provide scientists with insights into any impact of offshore activities, contribute to an increased understanding of the mechanisms linking climate change to deep-ocean ecology, and provide a long term source of data for deep ocean scientific research. “”Oceanlab provided the concept design for the two DELOS monitoring platforms and will supply and develop the instrumentation modules that will record deep ocean environmental and biological data. “”BP as well as providing the initial capital cost for this project will further provide the ROV support to allow periodic servicing of the instrument modules and data distribution to the independent scientific committee.”” DELOS is a collaboration involving BP; the University of Aberdeen’s Oceanlab; National Oceanographic Centre in Southampton; University of Glasgow; Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California; Texas A&M University and the Angolan National Institute of Fisheries Research (Instituto Nacional de Investigação Pesqueira – INIP).

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C-Grid Reinforces Countertops at Salsarita's Fresh Cantinas

23rd September 2007 0 comments

Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina restaurants are now utilizing C-Grid, the carbon fibre reinforcement grid manufactured by Techfab and Altus Group, to reinforce countertops at their restaurant chains all throughout the United States. Solid Designs, a decor concrete manufacturing company in Greenville, S.C., needed stronger concrete countertop slabs designed for shipping, handling and distribution to Salsarita’s. At the bar area inside its restaurants, Salsarita’s wanted stronger countertops and a more aesthetically pleasing countertop surface. Solid Designs created custom-designed C-Grid reinforced countertop solutions for Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina restaurants. The countertops helped Salsarita’s compliment its interior decor with custom-designed countertops that not only looked attractive, but also maintained form and function. By utilizing C-Grid, Solid Designs was able to produce countertops on a faster schedule without worrying about cracking. This accelerated schedule helped Solid Designs increase business and maintain a high production volume of countertops. C-Grid prevented rust and cracking, while increasing ductility in the countertops. Techfab says that the carbon fibre grid is easy to handle and is up to five times stronger than steel by weight.

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Crane Composites Acquires Part of Owens Corning Fabwel

23rd September 2007 0 comments

Crane Composites, a division of Crane Co, has acquired the composite panel business of Owens Corning. The acquired business, a portion of the Fabwel segment of Owens Corning’s Composite Solutions unit, had sales of $40 million in 2006. The Goshen, IN, operation currently supplies quality high gloss fibreglass exterior side wall panel products to the recreational vehicle market and other related industries. In addition, Crane Composites will acquire the related technical centre in Elkhart, IN. “Over the years, this Owens Corning enterprise has built a solid reputation as a quality supplier of table glass products to the RV industry,” stated Jeff Craney, President of Crane Composites. “Crane Composites is very much committed to continuing this tradition.” In addition to the acquisition, Crane Composites has two other locations in the Goshen area that manufactures exterior sidewall panels and facilitates product service and delivery of the Filon and Noble brand products to RV manufacturers. The company has already expanded its field sales and support presence in the area. “We are very excited to have this well respected business join Crane Composites,” said Jack Stambaugh, Vice President of Sales. “This acquisition will bring a number of technological and customer service advantages to the RV industry.” Crane Composites operates five manufacturing facilities in the US and one facility in the UK with warehouses and sales offices throughout the world. Crane Composites’ product lines include Filon, Noble Composites, frpDesign Solutions, Glasbord, Sequentia Structoglas, LascoBoard, Kemlite Transportation Products, and Zenicon Thermoplastics.

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Masterbatch Technology in New Long Fibre Compounds from RTP

23rd September 2007 0 comments

RTP Company’s portfolio has extended to include engineered long fibre thermoplastic (LFT) compounds with the introduction of long cut additives. The long-cut masterbatches are available as cube blends with RTP Company’s line of LFT products. RTP says that separation during handling is minimized because of similar pellet geometry allowing customers to receive superior, economic LFTs. “We are in a unique supply situation because of our ability to formulate and produce long-cut color and additive packages for our LFT business,” confirmed Eric Lee, Business Manager of Structural Materials at RTP Company. “By applying our compounding competencies to long-cut additives for LFTs, we are able to create robust LFT solutions and minimize lead times for our customers.” Traditional LFT suppliers are restricted in how they deliver LFT products containing additives. RTP says that with their masterbatch technology, customers are offered more choices; additives in long-cut masterbatch pellets for dry blending or additives in pre-compounded LFT pellets. “Combining other technologies like custom colors, UV stabilization, wear resistance, or static dissipation with long fibre compounds is an underutilized advantage in the industry today,” said Karl Hoppe, RTP Company’s lead development engineer for Long Fiber Compounds. “With our long-cut additives, customers can now incorporate these technologies at a lower cost compared to traditional LFT compounds.” RTP significantly expanded its LFT global capacity during the past year. A new long fibre facility was opened in 2006 near its Winona, Minnesota headquarters and LFT lines became operational at RTP Company’s facility in Beaune, France. The latest expansion occurred earlier in 2007 when RTP Company added LFT production lines at its Suzhou, China manufacturing facility.

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Composites Polycon 2007 Welcomes Students from Across the Country

23rd September 2007 0 comments

More than 20 universities will be represented next month in Tampa, Fla., at the American Composites Manufacturers Association’s (ACMA) annual trade show and conference, Composites & Polycon 2007. Six universities will be represented in the University Pavilion, located on the trade show floor, and 11 student authors will be in attendance presenting technical papers. Innovation Station participants, researchers and speakers round out the university representation. “It is imperative that we assist the next generation of composites professionals as much as possible,” said John Tickle, ACMA President. “The University Pavilion and the sponsored student authors are an important part of the ACMA conference.” Leading universities and colleges with composites programs, including Auburn University, Florida State University High-Performance Materials Institute, and the University of Maine, The AEWC Center, among others, will participate in this year’s University Pavilion. Student authors received $500 travel stipends to help cover the costs of attending the conference and presenting their research. These sponsorships are generously provided by Colbond Inc., Cook Composites & Polymers, Interplastic Corporation, Molded Fiber Glass Companies, Norac Inc., PPG Industries, Structural Composites, and the ACMA Architectural Division. Composites & Polycon 2007 will be held at the Tampa Convention Center October 17-19.

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New Marketing Communications Company Will Focus on Composites Industry

23rd September 2007 0 comments

Long-time marketing communications professional Phil Bridges has formed Matrix MarCom in Raleigh, NC, a full-service marketing communications company with a focus on serving the composites industry. Initial clients of Matrix MarCom include AOC of Collierville, TN, the American Composites Manufacturers Association (ACMA) of Arlington, VA, IPS Weld-On Adhesives of Durham, NC, Bcomtesting (composites testing) of Wake Forest, NC and Custom Wood Shutters and Blinds of Cary, NC. Matrix MarCom provides services including public relations, advertising, literature development, brand management, media training, employee communications, speech writing, copywriting, newsletter development and trade show programs. The company is servicing local and national companies, trade associations and non-profit organizations. Bridges says that clients of Matrix MarCom will benefit from his rich and varied background across a variety of disciplines and organizations, and that his partnership with multiple design and production firms will allow Matrix to provide clients with all of the services available from large agencies without the usual overhead and additional costs. For over 20 years, Phil Bridges has managed communications programs across a wide variety of businesses and organizations in corporate, governmental, political and agency roles. His career has included work for Reichhold, Inc, FGI Integrated Marketing, North Carolina state government and a successful statewide political campaign. “There are many companies, associations and organizations operating today with a significant need for coordinated marketing communications programs that don’t have the resources to dedicate personnel to this function,” Bridges explains. “That is where Matrix MarCom comes in.” “Because we have extremely low overhead, we’re able to offer comprehensive services to clients at very cost-effective rates,” Bridges says. “Depending on clients’ needs, we offer services from advertising development and public relations to complete marketing communications planning and execution.” “For larger organizations, we work with marketing communications and marketing managers to provide the essential tools necessary for successful, integrated communications programs,” he continues. “The beauty of our business plan is that we can adapt the way we work to meet customers’ needs, not visa versa.” Because of Bridges 12+ years of experience in the composites industry, working with composites industry suppliers, distributors and fabricators will be a focus for Matrix MarCom. “”I’ve worked in the composites industry throughout North America, Europe and Brazil,”” Bridges says. “My choice of the ‘Matrix’ name is meant to reinforce my background in the industry to clients and potential clients,”” he explains. “”I believe this brand will also resonate with non-composites-related organizations.””

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DuPont to Invest $500 Million to Increase Kevlar Capacity

23rd September 2007 0 comments

DuPont plans to invest over $500 million in a multi-phase production expansion starting with a Kevlar polymer expansion in Richmond, Va., later this year. For DuPont, this expansion would increase Kevlar capacity by more than 25 percent when complete in 2010 and represents the largest Kevlar expansion since the product was introduced in 1965. Details about additional expansion phases will be announced at a later date. “”Global demand for DuPont Kevlar has soared with the growing need for safety and security worldwide,”” Thomas G. Powell, vice president and general manager – DuPont Advanced Fiber Systems, said. “”In addition, high energy prices have increased demand for the lightweight strength of Kevlar in the aerospace, oil and gas and automotive industries. Our capacity expansion plan is a critical step in growing the Kevlar business, maintaining DuPont leadership in high performance fibres, and delivering the innovation customers expect from DuPont.”” “”This is a significant investment for DuPont and underscores our commitment to sustainability and providing products that improve the safety and protection of people and critical processes around the world,”” Mark P. Vergnano, group vice president – DuPont Safety & Protection, said. “”We are focusing our investment on products like Kevlar® that meet the needs of these multi-billion-dollar growth industries for high-performance, innovative materials.”” Between 2000 and 2006, DuPont completed four Kevlar fibre expansion projects at its Richmond, Va., and Maydown, Northern Ireland, facilities. The latest expansions incorporated a proprietary New Fiber Technology (NFT) developed and patented by DuPont that they say will help meet future market needs. In August 2006, DuPont said that it expected to invest more than $100 million in a three-phase capacity expansion that would raise Nomex fibre and paper capability by approximately 10 percent. The first phase of the Nomex expansion is scheduled to go online later this year.

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Vistagy and ESI Group Expand Partnership

23rd September 2007 0 comments

Vistagy and ESI will expand their technology partnership with the intent of providing aerospace and automotive manufacturers with the most complete virtual 3D engineering environment for designing and analyzing products made of advanced composites.

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FAA Chief of Composites to Speak on Safety & Certification

23rd September 2007 0 comments

Dr. Larry Ilcewicz, FAA Chief Scientific and Technical Advisor for Composite Materials, will be speaking on the topic of “”Composite Safety & Certification Initiatives”” at the Seattle SAMPE dinner on Sept. 25th, 2007. For more details, please view the SAMPE chapter September newsletter at the address below.

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Material Opens New Sales and Engineering Centre in Australia

23rd September 2007 0 comments

To extend its international network of sales and service points, Material S.A., the specialist for engineering and software for composite materials and filament winding technology, has signed a cooperation agreement with Etamax Engineering to become Material’s new engineering centre in Australia. The new site, located in Adelaide, South Australia, will not only service Australia but also the Asia-Pacific region. It will provide installation, training and maintenance services for Material’s well-known software packages: Cadwind, the process simulation system for filament winding, and Composite Star, the database and design software for composites. Furthermore it will offer engineering services for filament winding technology including part and process design, winding program calculation, process optimization, production planning and prototyping. Etamax’s founder, Peter Eagles, has more than ten years of experience working with composite materials and in filament winding technology. He holds bachelor’s degree qualifications from RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia, in both Aerospace Engineering and Business Administration. He has played a key role in developing a wide range of light-weight composite products including multi-hull racing yachts, hydrofoils, masts, external cargo pods for carriage on supersonic military jets and filament wound pressure vessels for aerospace and submarine applications.

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