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Composites Industry News

News for June 2008


Hexcel to Supply Carbon Fibre Composites for Airbus A350 XWB Primary Structures

3rd June 2008 0 comments

Hexcel has been awarded a contract to supply carbon fibre composite materials for major primary structures of the Airbus long-range wide-body A350 XWB aircraft. The award covers the entire family of A350 XWB aircraft through 2025. In the coming months, as the A350 XWB design is finalized, Hexcel and Airbus have agreed to complete the final specification and qualification of Hexcel’s materials for the selected primary structures. Hexcel expects the award to generate revenues of $4-5 billion over the life of the contract. In addition to the award for primary structures, Hexcel is offering other composite products for consideration for use in secondary structures and interiors, such as fabrics, resins, prepregs, adhesives, honeycombs and HexMC molded parts for the A350 which could be a source of significant additional revenues associated with the program. Mr. David E. Berges, Hexcel’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer said, “This achievement is the result of years of innovation, technical and operational developments and breakthroughs thanks to the hard work by many dedicated employees at both companies. As a composites industry leader, Hexcel believes that it offers the right mix of materials science, product portfolio and other creative solutions to meet a broad range of our customers’ needs, particularly in aerospace and wind energy. We are extremely proud that we have been awarded this contract and look forward to supporting the success of the A350 program.” Under the A350 XWB award, Hexcel will principally supply a HexPly toughened epoxy prepreg made with Hexcel’s HexTow intermediate modulus carbon fiber. Hexcel expects to make significant capital expenditures for capacity expansions as the A350 ramps up to its anticipated build rate. The exact timing and the size of these expansions will be determined by the build rate forecasts by Airbus and its suppliers. The materials and their components will be manufactured at Hexcel facilities in the U.S., France, Spain, Germany and the United Kingdom.

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Fiberforge Wins Contract to Develop Composite Components for Helicopter

3rd June 2008 0 comments

Fiberforge has been awarded the contract from DRS Technologies for the design and development of the carbon fibre composite components of the Internal Cargo Handling System for the CH-53K Heavy Lift Helicopter. The CH-53K Helicopter is under development by Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp, for the U.S. Marine Corps. The CH-53K helicopter is a dual-piloted, multi-engine, vertical take-off and landing aircraft that will provide the Marine Corps with improved heavy lift capability, reduced operating costs and state of the art interoperability. Fiberforge will work as a subcontractor to DRS C3S on the CH-53K Helicopter System Development and Demonstration Phase, which includes engineering, design and fabrication of the carbon fibre thermoplastic composite components of the cargo handling system. Fiberforge and DRS C3S will develop a variety of components, including floor panels, structural beams, pallet roller trays and tie-down elements. All parts developed by Fiberforge will be made of highly durable, lightweight carbon fibre reinforced thermoplastic composites and will utilize state-of-the-art joining methods for assembly and bonding. “The CH-53K program represents a major advancement in the use of thermoplastic-based composites for the most challenging and demanding applications in the world,” says Jon Fox-Rubin, PhD, President and CEO of Fiberforge Corporation. “We are honoured to be selected by DRS for this program.”

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ACMA to Lead Special Interest Session at the International Bridge Conference

3rd June 2008 0 comments

The American Composites Manufacturers Association (ACMA) and its Transportation Structures Council (TSC) will lead a special interest session on June 3, 2008 at the 25th Annual International Bridge Conference in Pittsburgh, Pa. The session, Proven Performance of FRP Composites in Bridge Construction, is designed to educate bridge engineers about the benefits of using FRP composites in bridge installations, including inspection of bridge decks, advancements in rehabilitation and new field installations of cable stays and girders. The session will be from 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon in Room 301 of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, where the conference is being held. “”We are proud to present new ideas using composites that bring the customer and taxpayer bridge decks with longer life, lighter weight, corrosion resistance, quicker installations, and reduced detours,”” says Bob Sweet, Creative Pultrusions, Inc., Alum Bank, Pa., who serves as chairman of ACMA’s Transportation Structures Council. “”Composites are a smarter way to solve our infrastructure problems.”” Proven Performance of FRP Composites in Bridge Construction will feature presentations from five composites industry experts and will be moderated by John P. Busel, Director of ACMA’s Composites Growth Initiative.

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PEEK Compound Replaces Titanium in Surgical Head Restraint Systems

3rd June 2008 0 comments

To solve material incompatibility problems in a surgical head restraint used during brain surgery, Performance Plastics (PPL), Cincinnati, Ohio used an RTP Company PEEK-based compound as a titanium replacement which met all the complex requirements of the device. Incompatibility problems can arise when head restraints are made from magnetic materials. They can distort magnetic resonance (MR) brain scans. Computer tomography (CT) images become unrecognizable when magnetic components are employed. Titanium, although non-magnetic, can produce undesirable heat and be cost prohibitive to manufacture. The challenge was to find a viable alternative. PPL worked with RTP Company on converting the head restraint assembly to plastic. Size limitations of the device and the high loads applied to it during surgery required a high strength-to-weight ratio. In addition to meeting the mechanical criteria, sterilization necessitated a chemically resistant material that could withstand high temperatures. “”A big hurdle with this application was that we needed a compound that was more highly modified than standard VICTREX PEEK grades because the head restraint system is composed of large parts with long flow lengths,”” said Ken Kelly, Engineering Manager at PPL. “”We asked the engineers at RTP Company to assist by optimizing the fibre loadings because of their superior additive technologies.”” RTP Company customized an RTP 2200 polyetheretherketone (PEEK) high flow carbon fiber reinforced compound. The material exhibits a tensile strength of 40,000 psi (276 MPa) and flexural modulus of 5.4 psi x 10E6 (37,233 MPa), meeting the stiffness and creep resistance requirements critical for titanium replacement while optimizing the fibre loadings for improved flow. The compound handles the extreme temperatures and harsh conditions of autoclave and gamma radiation sterilization.

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Stemergy Secures $3.3 Million Commitment for Hemp Processing

3rd June 2008 0 comments

Stemergy Renewable Fibre Technologies has secured a $3.3 million commitment from the Ministry of Research and Innovation to scale up the Company’s BioFibeRefinery technology. Stemergy was formed in 1994, and in that same year started to grow industrial hemp, and has operated an R&D facility at Delaware, Ontario since 1998. The BioFibeRefinery technology is the culmination of years of work for making biofibre materials from plants such as hemp and flax. “”We are in a new environmental and economic paradigm and renewable materials will continue to replace non-renewable resources in wide ranging applications. Our BioFibeRefinery technology is a complete system from plant genetics through to wide spread distribution of our biofiber materials.”” “”We source locally grown plant stems, that are fractionated and refined using our technology, and the resulting biofibres are supplied to large global markets which include replacing plastics and fibre glass for making composites. Stemergy’s future growth prospects look extremely positive.”” commented Geofrey Kime, P.Eng., Stemergy’s President and COO. The total project budget is $10 million, and Stemergy is pursuing the balance of the funding from financing partners interested in participating in the fast growing renewable and bioproducts industry.

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Hitco to Supply Composite Components to Alenia for Dreamliner

3rd June 2008 0 comments

Hitco Carbon Composites has signed a long term agreement with Alenia Aeronautica to supply the trailing edge components for the Boeing 787 horizontal stabilizer. Hitco will begin delivering flight hardware in the second quarter of 2008. In addition, Alenia has selected Hitco to supply a range of other composite components for the B 787. These components will be delivered directly to Alenia as well as to other Alenia subcontractors. Boeing Commercial Airplanes contracted Alenia as a Tier I supplier to build the aft fuselage and other sections of the B 787 Dreamliner aircraft. “”Hitco was selected to produce the Trailing Edge components for the B 787 Horizontal Stabilizer because of its established performance as a Gold Supplier to Boeing – particularly the C 17 and B 767 programs and its approval to Boeing’s Process Specification 5578. The factors above along with HITCO’s ongoing transformation to a state-of-the-art fully automated production facility utilizing lean manufacturing principles, are making our goal of becoming a Best in Class Tier II carbon composites supplier for the aircraft industry a reality,”” said Edward G. Carson, Hitco’s Chief Operating Officer.

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UPM to Build a Wood Plastic Composite Mill in Germany

3rd June 2008 0 comments

UPM is expanding its wood plastic composite production by building a new mill in Karlsruhe, Germany. This new production unit is aimed at responding to the fast market growth and increasing demand for wood plastic composite in Central Europe. The mill is scheduled to start production by the end of this year and offer employment to about 50 people. The investment value is approximately EUR12 million. The new mill will manufacture UPM ProFi Deck decking boards mainly for the growing Central European market. UPM ProFi wood plastic composite products are manufactured from surplus paper and plastic left over from the production of self-adhesive label materials. The first commercialised ProFi product is UPM ProFi Deck. Production in Lahti, Finland started a year ago. In recent years, UPM has strongly developed new business opportunities, one of which is UPM ProFi. “”A mill in the middle of Europe strengthens our position in the fast growing markets, now that the demand for materials suitable for outdoor building has considerably increased in Central Europe. Furthermore, the Karlsruhe mill can effectively utilise the residue materials from nearby self-adhesive label industries. Also the surplus material from UPM Raflatac’s mill located in Nancy, France, can be utilised by the German mill,”” explains Director Markku Koivisto, who is responsible for the UPM ProFi business.

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Pearson Precision Tooling Chooses T-Paste

3rd June 2008 0 comments

Pearson Precision Tooling, a new division of U.S. boatbuilder Pearson Yachts, has chosen SP, the marine business of Gurit, for the supply of tooling paste T-Paste 70-1. Following the recent purchase of a CNC Robot system to assist with plug work and the outsourced tooling they undertake, Pearson Precision Tooling needed a paste for application to a Styrofoam base that would work seamlessly with their new machines. Ease of application and excellent adhesion to expanded polystyrene is one of the main advantages of T-Paste 70-1. Gurit say that the surface quality afforded by T-Paste 70-1 reduces the time taken to finish the pattern and opens up the opportunity for moulds to be taken directly off the paste. The epoxy paste can be applied to complex curvatures in one operation at up to a thickness of 40mm without sagging, even on undercuts. The hardness of the paste has been optimised to give the best possible machining properties giving good cut definition with no break-out or damage in detail areas. T-Paste 70-1 already has customers including UK-based Princess Yachts, Seaway in Slovenia and El-bo Produktion in Denmark. Brian Barer, Business Unit Manager and VP Operations for Pearson Precision Tooling, explained why they had chosen T-Paste 70-1 “T-Paste is very easy to work with – we were astounded by the speed and ease at which we were able to apply the paste,” he said. “One of the main reasons for choosing T-Paste was because it goes on as a paste and not as a spray, which keeps the environment a lot cleaner and is less hazardous to our employees. We also liked the fact that T-paste is compatible with EPS as well as being very easy to machine and does not tend to dull our cutting tools. “The first part of the tooling process using T-Paste went flawlessly and we look forward to seeing the finished results.”

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National Composite Center Holds First Annual University Technology Incubator Ceremony

3rd June 2008 0 comments

The National Composite Center (NCC) held its inaugural commencement exercises today. The ceremony, which took place at NCC’s Dayton Campus for Advanced Materials Technologies (DC-AMT), recognized three companies that have successfully graduated from the Center’s technology incubation program to become independent businesses in the Dayton Region. Guest speakers included U.S. Representative Mike Turner; Montgomery County Commissioner Debbie Lieberman; Dayton Mayor Rhine McLin; Lou Luedtke, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), NCC; Jim Leftwich, Chief Operating Officer (COO), Dayton Development Coalition (DDC) and Lyle Dunbar, CEO, DR Technologies and Vector Composites. “The event provides us with an annual technology based economic development platform for telling the success stories of start-up companies who are transforming themselves into self-sustaining businesses,” said Luedtke. NCC is the only nonprofit total economic development solution for advanced materials in the US. The Center recognized WebCore Technologies, Inc., with an honorary certificate. WebCore was the first company to incubate at the Center and then move to its own production facility after achieving manufacturing status. Previously housed at NCC for four years, WebCore used NCC’s pilot production facility to mature its proprietary TYCOR fibre reinforced composite core technology. WebCore moved to its 70,000 square foot Dayton location in 2005. The second graduate, Composite Advantage LLC (CA), was spun off and incubated at NCC for two and a half years. CA recently moved into its new Dayton-based facility where the company manufactures very large fiber reinforced composite parts for structurally demanding applications and corrosive environments. Vector Composites, named NCC’s “valedictorian,” is a wholly-owned subsidiary of DR Technologies (DRT) which owns and operates three subsidiaries engaged in engineering, development and production of aerospace composite structure components. DRT acquired Vector Composites Inc. from NCC in 2005. “NCC recognized early on the vital importance of investing in and supporting advanced materials technologies-related companies to help grow the local economy,” said Luedtke. “The development of our unique business model has resulted in a network that consists of scientists, production, manufacturing and business people able to exchange information and ideas in a nurturing environment. Through this network we’ve built a unique atmosphere for problem solving – a difficult combination to find in a traditional incubator. Typically, incubators tend to be either science or business oriented with little practical manufacturing experience. NCC and its partners provide it all.” The Center’s economic development model, incubation services and ability to commercialize new products quickly on a true manufacturing scale captured the attention of San Diego, California-based DRT which purchased Vector to build a business base that would create a substantial number of jobs in Dayton over the next three to five years. Vector’s grand opening was announced at the NCC-U commencement ceremony. “Vector is a long-term tenant at DC-AMT,” said Dunbar, “and its grand opening marks a milestone for us.” “We have completed facility renovation and tenant improvements and expect to complete the purchase of manufacturing equipment by June 2008. In addition, we’ve implemented a plan to obtain AS9100 quality program certification which is based on our current successful DRT and V System Composites AS9100 program. The certification is a necessary requirement to implement aerospace production here at Vector Composites. We will start transitioning existing production work for a commercial jet engine composite inlet program from our V System Composites company in Anaheim, CA, to Dayton in July 2008. We have also obtained our first independent contract from the Navy to work with the Center’s proprietary QuickStep process and equipment, co-located at the DC-AMT building to evaluate lower cost out-of-autoclave manufacturing processes.” NCC has acquired nearly $40 million of infrastructure and equipment for a wide range of composite processes and capabilities. Research shows that in the first three years of company formation, 90 percent of start-up businesses fail. In the university incubation setting, the failure-rate percentage falls to 70 percent. Due to the total solution and vast network of resources that NCC provides, its success-rate percentage for start-ups is more than 80 percent. Since the Center established its program, it has nurtured 50 companies and produced more than 600 jobs.

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Araldite Set for Vendee Globe Adventure

3rd June 2008 0 comments

Two engineering adhesives from Huntsman Advanced Materials are set for a world class adventure on the high seas. Araldite 2031 (a black epoxy adhesive) and Araldite 2022 have played a vital role in the construction of Safran Open 60’ – a pioneering new monohull racing boat that competed in the Vendee Globe round the world solo race, March 2008. Safran Open 60’ is a 60 foot long, ergonomic lightweight vessel. Designed to weigh less and be more manoeuverable than other boats in its class, the Safran Open 60’ was built by the Safran Group of Companies at the world famous Chantier Naval de Larros shipyards (CNL) in France. The project took five months to complete and involved 4,600 hours of R&D and engineering time. During construction of the radical new vessel, six companies from the Safran group were involved in the project working alongside renowned naval architects Van Peteghem-Lauriot Prevost and Guillaume Verdier. In order to meet racing requirements, the Chantier Naval de Larros team specified the use of Araldite 2022 and Araldite 2031 adhesives to bond the boat’s bulkhead to its hull, which was machined from carbon-nomex sandwich panels. Araldite 2031 was also employed to attach key pieces of ironmongery during the build and to build the ballast tank entrance. Commenting, Thierry Eluère, managing director of the CNL shipyard and an internationally renowned boat builder said: “The team that worked to create the Safran Open 60’ in our shipyard are all perfectionists. Transferring expertise and knowledge originally gained in the aerospace industry, the team was chosen because of their attention to detail and the stringent performance requirements they demand of all of their design materials. These characteristics are mirrored in the CNL mantra and ensure we have the skills and discipline required to build world class racing boats. When it came to selecting the best range of adhesives to use in the construction of this responsive racing machine, the decision for the whole team was very simple. We chose Araldite 2000 PLUS because of the breadth of the range and the exceptional track record of its products.” Bernard Godmet, sales representative at Gaches, Huntsman Advanced Materials’ distribution partner for Araldite adhesives in France said: “Working alongside the Safran Group of Companies and CNL to recommend and supply the correct adhesives for such a pioneering project has been a real pleasure for the Gaches team. We are glad that the Araldite 2000 PLUS range performed so well and met such exacting design engineering standards. We wish the Safran crew all the best for their forthcoming races and look forward to monitoring the progress of the vessel as it circumnavigates the globe.” Christened on 1st September 2007 at a ceremony at Le Havre attended by 500 spectators, Safran Open 60’ is skippered by Marc Guillemot – a yachtsman with more than 30 years’ experience. In November 2007, the boat took second place in its maiden competition, crossing the Atlantic in just over 17 days as part of the 8th Transat Jacques Vabre race – which runs between Le Havre in France and the Brazilian harbour of Baia.

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