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Composites Industry News

News for April 2008


Hexcel Celebrates its 60th Anniversary at JEC 2008

8th April 2008 0 comments

At the JEC composites show in Paris Hexcel celebrated the company’s 60th anniversary by promoting the latest composite innovations for aerospace and industrial markets. Hexcel’s founders, Hughes and Steele, were awarded their first contract in 1948 by the Wright-Paterson Air Force Base for research and development into honeycomb for military aircraft radomes. Hexcel today is the result of the merger of a number of companies with experience in carbon fibre, reinforcement fabrics, resin formulation and honeycomb technologies, who continue to innovate and provide a range of high performance composite material solutions to industry. At this year’s JEC show Hexcel’s promotion was organised into three themes: growth; innovation for aerospace; and innovation for wind energy and selected industrial markets. In the Growth category Hexcel will focus on the opening of three new plants this year: an aerospace prepreg facility in Nantes, France; the first ever carbon fibre plant in Spain; and an industrial prepreg plant in Tianjin, China, that will supply the wind energy market. Hexcel is also in a major expansion phase having announced a $180 million investment programme to increase the company’s carbon fibre capacity to 7000 tons by 2010. This expansion will meet the accelerating demand for carbon fibre composites driven by market growth and the increasing penetration of these materials, particularly in commercial aerospace. Hexcel already manufactures more high strength Intermediate Modulus (IM) fibre than any other producer in the world – a fibre that is used widely in the manufacture of aerospace primary structures. Hexcel is also investing in additional NC machining capacity to support its engineered core product line. HexWeb EC is honeycomb that has been formed, shaped, machined and bonded to achieve precise, complex shapes that meet customers’ requirements. Hexcel is investing to meet the growing requirement for 5 Axis NC machining to support the base business, to prepare for build-rate increases and emerging aircraft platforms. Hexcel’s 5-Axis NC machines range in size to support a broad range of products from parts less than 0.6m in length such as tail rotors to larger parts such as slats and rotor blades that can exceed 9m. Hexcel also keeps pace with latest CATIA V5 CAD/CAM software and uses VERICUT software for machine simulation and NC programme optimisation. In the Innovation for Aerospace section Hexcel promoted its HexWeb Acousti-Cap noise management system for engine nacelles which won the JEC award for aerospace in 2007. Hexcel also promoted its HexTOOL composite tooling material, showing video footage shot at Hexcel customer, Touchstone, demonstrating how the material is processed. Hexcel’s HexMC carbon fibre/epoxy aircraft part manufacturing capabilities was also promoted and a range of parts manufactured with HexMC for Boeing were on display. Redux 870, Hexcel’s two-component, gap filling high performance liquid shim adhesive was also promoted at the show. Redux 870 was developed to support Airbus requirements for new aircraft programmes and has recently achieved AIMS qualification 10-07-001. Under the Innovation for wind energy and selected markets section Hexcel promoted its new prepreg for wind blades, HexPly M19. According to Hexcel, this innovative system, available with glass or carbon fibre reinforcements, is a major step forward in prepregs for wind energy as it cures in 15-20% less time than current products used for the same application. Less energy is therefore required to cure the prepreg and production times are increased. There are also savings in mould costs as less expensive tooling resins and coatings can be used along with a cheaper tooling support system. Overall cost savings of up to 10% are achievable per mould and the moulds are more durable with an increase in cycle life of up to 30%. HexPly M19 has the same excellent mechanical and handling properties as the established HexPly M9 range and is suitable for shells, spars and the root end. Hexcel also promoted its new range of surfacing prepregs for automotive and wind energy applications. HexPly XF3 is a lightly reinforced surfacing film that they say provides excellent surface finish for the bodywork of performance cars. It is ready to paint with minimum preparation and compatible with Hexcel’s epoxy prepregs for automotive applications, adapting to a range of cure cycles from 100 to 140 C.

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Twintex Chosen for Vacuum Bag Moulded Thermoplastic Composite Canoe

8th April 2008 0 comments

Twintex Technical Fabric has been chosen by German sport and leisure boat builder, Mega Sports Vertriebs, for its new innovative Robson Brook-16 composite canoe. In this application Twintex allowed the boat builder to replace rotomoulding with low investment vacuum bag moulding, to achieve a light weight, high stiffness, abrasive and impact resistant structure that was not subject to part shrinkage during processing. Twintex Technical Fabric comprises commingled E-glass fibres and thermoplastic filaments which, in this particular application, are polypropylene (PP) fibres. The commingling technology also allows a high glass content of up to 80 percent to be achieved, thereby providing for exceptionally strong lightweight parts, while still retaining an even surface finish. A significant environmental advantage of utilizing thermoplastic composites and vacuum bag closed moulding technology is that no emissions are produced during the curing process. Moreover, the material can be recycled at end-of-life when it can be shredded and, in a 50/50 mix with virgin resin, be reused for injection moulding automotive and other applications. Importantly, the combination of Twintex and vacuum bag moulding enables the production of low volume, large thermoplastic composite parts able to meet high mechanical performance and long-life criteria, as well as delivering consistent part quality. This makes it ideal for sport and leisure, niche automotive and marine applications for which high quality is demanded in short production-run parts. To achieve an optimum performance to weight ratio for the application Twintex T PP60 745 AF 1-1, a 60/40 glass to PP grade was selected for the new Robson Brook-16 canoe structure, which measures 488cm long, has a beam of 99cm and depth of 48cm. “We chose Twintex thermoplastic composite because it met all the criteria we set for the new canoe,” says Karl Fischer, Co-owner of Mega Sports Vertriebs. “The material gave a technical look similar to that of carbon with its fusion of performance, style and colour. Its weight is almost the same as an ABS sandwich construction but 30 percent lighter than canoes moulded in PE. The material’s high stiffness and impact and abrasion resistance were also important to prevent damage during transportation and use.” “Customers like the characteristics of the thermoplastic composite canoe because it’s light, strong and equally easy to handle in-water and during portage and also, of course, because it’s an innovative product which is distinct and differentiated from other brands. This positive reaction has led us to consider touring kayaks made of Twintex as a next development in our range,” concluded Fischer. Twintex Technical Fabric is manufactured by Owens Corning in Europe and is supported by a technical centre at Chambéry, France, where a team is available to assist customers to maximize the value-in-use benefits of the company’s range of technical fabrics, reinforcements and specialty products. Twintex, a commingled product based on reinforcement glass fibres and thermoplastic filaments such as PE, PP, PET or PBT is commercially available mainly in the form of rovings, sheets, pellets, and fabrics and used to reinforce plastics for applications in a wide range of end-use markets such as electricity/electronics, construction, automotive, marine and sports and leisure. Following approval by regulatory authorities in Europe and the United States, Owens Corning completed the acquisition of Saint-Gobain’s Reinforcements and Composite Fabrics businesses for $640 million on November 1, 2007.

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New XTEND 840 Semi-Permanent Mould Release for Marine RTM Production

8th April 2008 0 comments

A new semi-permanent mould release from Axel Plastics Research Laboratories, XTEND 840, has been designed to provide gloss and durability for RTM operations. “Generally, marine moulders have had to choose between using a mould release that provides good gloss; or a release that provides better slip and durability, but at the loss of appearance. Now, with the introduction of XTEND 840, RTM operations no longer have to sacrifice a ‘class A’ finish to gain the durability and ease of release that they desire.”, said Nancy Teufel, Global Product Manager for Axel. XTEND 840 is a solvent-based, reactive resin solution that cross-links and cures, providing a durable release coating. The semi-permanent release is wiped or sprayed on the mould and allowed to dry – Axel say that it requires no wipe off or polishing to achieve a high gloss, streak free finish. The semi-permanent release is specially formulated to apply with ease at both ambient temperature, and also at typical process temperatures. This makes it simple to use for both mould preparation and touch-ups. According to Axel, the release provides a surface tension that is suitable for gel-coated ‘A’ sides in RTM molding, while still providing the chemical resistance and durability of release performance that ‘B’ sides, or non-gel coated parts require.

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IDI Develops New Corrosion-Resistant Composite for Heavy Trucks

8th April 2008 0 comments

IDI Composites International has launched AV-206, a new corrosion-resistant, lightweight sheet moulding compound (SMC). The material is designed to have high heat and creep resistant properties, suitable for replacement of metals in heavy truck under-the-hood applications, allowing designers to meet strict emission standards and reduce gas usage. AV-206 is designed to withstand highly corrosive surroundings without losing its physical properties, in particular oil, solvent, and salt sprays common in under-the-hood environments. In a 1,000 hour oil-age test, AV-206 maintains a tensile strength of 11,673 PSI and flexural strength of 25,274 PSI

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Araldite Used for Super-Aerodynamic Sports Bicycle

8th April 2008 0 comments

Time Sport International, the sports bicycle frame and accessories manufacturer, has recently worked with Huntsman Advanced Materials to develop a unique high performance bike – the RXR. Using a special multi-part assembly technology based on high modulus carbon composite components, the RXR can be built to the optimal design for individual customer requirements. This multiple part technology is the result of two years research and development, including numerous wind tunnel tests to optimise the aerodynamic design of each of the modules. The revolutionary aerodynamic design is compliant with UCI regulations. Each bicycle frame comprises three component parts made in mould “shells” using Araldite epoxy system with carbon fibre. This technology enables the mechanical features of each shell to be modified according to specific requirements. Each aerodynamic frame is available in four sizes, weighing just 1300gms in total, and includes the latest state of the art Translink integrated seat tube. The distinctive high gloss red frame is finished with the striking Time Sport logo. The Araldite system used to produce the carbon components is Araldite LY 564 / Aradur 22962 which can be cured at temperatures > 100degC. This amine cured laminating system has very low viscosity so is suitable for the latest injection techniques used by Time Sport. It also has a long pot life (up to 150mins at 23degC) and high reactivity, for example curing for 15mins at 100degC. Since its initial launch in 2005, the RXR has proved its performance in a range of time trials including the World Championships.

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MVP Expands Accessories for Light RTM Equipment

8th April 2008 0 comments

Magnum Venus Plastech has released several new accessories to the light RTM product line. MVP has developed all of their fittings to work with one common universal mould Insert. Any attachment to the mould is now possible using one industrial standard insert, including the mould injection pipe or Automatic Injection Valve (Turbo Autosprue), flange vacuum, catchpot, air ejector and mould pressure sensor. The Universal Mould Insert is supplied with a patented lock clip design which instantly secures any of the various fittings into the mould, and just as easily provides removal. This is particularly important for air ejectors which, on large moulds like boat hulls, may be moved to various positions to aid ejection air release without the cost of multiple air ejectors. A lockable “dummy plug” is also included in the new range to vacuum secure unused inserts which are strategically built in for potential alternative use. All the new fittings designed to fit the new insert have double O-ring seals for greater vacuum security. Additionally, a further 3 elastomeric profiles have been added to MVP’s range of mould accessories to aid mould building, sealing and resin flow. The new smaller resin feed channel profile now provides the user with a choice of two peripheral resin feed channel designs. As many manufacturers are looking to reduce waste material, the new reusable feed channel is easy to apply during mould build and affords a 60% saving on resin consumption over the larger more common D section. It is intended for use on mould surface area of less than 2-3 square metres and is intended for smaller mould designs. A solid seal of similar dimension and shape to the company’s very popular and industrial standard dynamic seal has been added. This will fit the current mould seal groove design so it is easily substituted for the Dynamic seal, providing the user with a more robust seal choice in the same mould. Keyhole resin feed injection from within the mould cavity is now available for the larger mould surface area and is particularly appropriate to wind turbine blade manufacture or large marine mouldings. The new reusable resin feed silicon section can be designed flush with the surface of the counter mould to provide line feed channel or channels. A 1 mm resin rich witness mark is easily removed on mould opening from the B side of the moulded part. The keyhole section now allows mould designers to be less concerned with ever increasing fill times with large moulds if they were to be filled conventionally from only the mould edge. Held in by design shape and tension to the counter mould the new section provides an ideal solution to any who desire artery and vein injection techniques over the common peripheral feed method. Finally, a new intrinsically safe fluid level alarm system has been introduced for meter mix machines. “Level Sense” is a unique catalyst and solvent level alarm system launched at the JEC Exhibition in Paris. The pneumatic “Level Sense” alarm system removes any concerns over electrical safety and is designed specifically for the FRP workshop environment. MVP say that the sensor is durable, safe, compact and affordable, saving the moulder the aggravation and cost of cleaning a mould filled with un-catalysed resin or a machine head gelled up from lack of solvent. Level Sense is available on all of MVP’s range of injection machines, and can be supplied in a retrofit kit form.

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New Research Project on Functional Fibre Reinforced Bio-Composites

8th April 2008 0 comments

Swerea Sicomp has started the Funfirebic project “Functional fibre reinforced bio-composites”, an ERA-NET project within the EU’s WoodWisdom Net programme. The project has been initiated by partners from the earlier EU project Biocompac, which concerned development of biobased materials and composites for the packaging industry, and is being undertaken together with Biomer (Germany), Oy Keskuslaboratorio – Centrallaboratorium AB (KCL, Finland), Oy All-Plast AB (Finland), Elastopoli Oy (Finland) and Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT). Funfirebic is based on promising results from the earlier project. The aim is to develop bio-composite material from functionalized wood fibres and biobased thermoplastics. Enzymatic and chemical methods are used to functionalize the wood fibres. The project will involve development of both materials and processes. The suitability of bio-composite materials for injection-moulded products in a range of application areas such as transport, construction and consumer goods will be evaluated. The project will last two years.

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DSM Composite Resins Offers Benefits on Latest Dutch InterCity Train

8th April 2008 0 comments

NPSP Composieten is using. DSM Composite Resins in fibre composite nose and rear panels for the next generation of high-speed Dutch InterCity trains. Using composite resins instead of metal for these parts will remove 1000 kg of weight from the train, which translate directly into cost savings and environmental benefits. Research by Dutch train operator NedTrain shows tangible results from using the new part: – New nose panel saves around €200,000 in construction and maintenance costs throughout the lifetime of each train – Running cost of train reduced by €0.50 per kilo, per year – Substantial reduction in CO2 emissions per kilometre DSM’s resins are being used by NPSP in combination with a vacuum-assisted moulding process to produce the lightest possible front and rear panels for the new trains. NPSP’s procedure allows larger parts to be moulded from DSM’s resin than is usually possible. Mark Lepelaar from NPSP explains the latest innovation in adding even more functional and environmental improvements to fibre and composite resin materials, “We will submit new products using DSM’s composite resins for certification with the Dutch Train authorities, based on natural-fibres, as opposed to glass-fibres. The new products are better than traditional glass-fibre based products: while having comparable strength and fire-resistant properties, they are 10-30% lighter, and therefore take less energy to transport; they use less energy in production, and are far more environmentally friendly to dispose of. The natural fibre based composites should be ready for use in trains within 2-3 years. We are confident that we will reach this goal in close cooperation with DSM Resins”

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Carbon Nanotubes for New Thermoplastic Materials

8th April 2008 0 comments

Bayer MaterialScience and Clariant Masterbatches have agreed to cooperate on thermoplastic compounds.

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SABIC Begins Producing Long Glass Fibre-Reinforced Composites in Korea

8th April 2008 0 comments

SABIC Innovative Plastics is to open a major production line at its Chung-Ju, Korea facility, to produce LNP Verton long glass fibre-reinforced thermoplastic composites. The company’s continued investment in new production facilities such as the LNP Verton composite line is designed to provide customers with a local source of innovative products and technological expertise. By providing customers with local production and resources, SABIC Innovative Plastics aims to slash delivery times for LNP Verton composite grades. Local material production can help customers reduce time to market for a competitive advantage, especially in the fast-moving telecommunications and electronics sectors. “We are demonstrating our ongoing commitment to faster and more responsive customer service by investing in this new production line,” said Alan Leung, Pacific president for SABIC Innovative Plastics. “It will enable us to quickly supply manufacturers and moulders in Korea and Asia with our popular LNP Verton composites. These high-performance materials are in great demand as superior replacements for metal and short-fiber-reinforced plastics. We believe easier access can help customers develop and market innovative applications for greater business success.” The LNP Verton production line, which will begin operating this month, will run 20 grades of the composites in a variety of resin systems including Polypropylene, Polyamide and PPA. The new line significantly expands the Chung-Ju facility, which was opened in 1989. The Chung-Ju plant houses a 40,000-ton high-tech manufacturing system, material properties testing equipment, and colour-matching equipment to meet customer requirements.

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