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Composites Industry News

News for May 2008


New Fibreglass Factory in Saudi Arabia

6th May 2008 0 comments

Glass Fiber Technology has started commercial production in the first fibreglass factory on the west coast of Saudi Arabia. Fiber1 is the brand name for the fibreglass products being made by Glass Fiber Technology (FRP Technology) of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. This new fibreglass plant is strategically located at Rabigh Industrial City, Rabigh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia which is near to the new King Abdullah Economical City. Products include E-Glass fibres, woven tapes, rovings and chopped strand mat.

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The First Staubli Unival for Carbon Fibre

6th May 2008 0 comments

Sigmatex has installed a Stäubli Unival 100 Jacquard machine, this being the first of its kind used in the manufacture of Carbon Fibre fabrics. At 1.5mtr wide and consisting of a 5,000 hook design, each with its own actuator, individual warp yarn can be independently lifted thus offering ultimate flexibility in the manufacture of 3 dimensional (3D) carbon fibre fabrics. The Unival 100 is capable of producing technical 3D fabrics to exacting quality standards and presents Sigmatex with cutting edge manufacturing technology. Located in its new purpose built UK facility, this machine will concentrate heavily on Research and Development of 3D carbon fibre fabrics for a number of markets and applications. “Yet another example of investment in plant, equipment and technology that Sigmatex has undertaken in order to continue its growth and expansion in the manufacture carbon fibre technical textiles” according to Scott Murray, Technical Manager.

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Quickstep Joint Venture with Vortex for Composite Pipes

7th May 2008 0 comments

Quickstep and Australian-based Vortex Pipes have joined forces to develop and market a new generation of high-strength, corrosion resistant pipes to be manufactured using Quickstep’s manufacturing process. The two companies have finalised a joint venture agreement, bringing together their respective strengths in composite manufacturing technology and pipe-lining and manufacturing solutions. The project, which will operate under the name “QuickPipes”, will commence work immediately focused on the development of a range of high-end composite pressure pipes. The joint venture will initially be established on an 80:20 (Vortex::Quickstep) basis, with Quickstep contributing its technology and know-how, as well as a suitable Quickstep QS20 composites production machine. Vortex (previously known as ‘ShieldLiner’) will contribute its composites pipe-lining and manufacturing technology, industry contacts and know-how in the specialised fields of pipe cleaning, pipe rehabilitation and fibreglass pipe provisioning. Vortex will be responsible for stage 1 funding of the joint venture. Vortex is in discussions with the Victorian Centre for Advanced Materials Manufacturing Ltd (VCAMM) regarding research funding opportunities through their associations with Co-operative Research Centres (CRC’s) and other government backed organisations. It is anticipated that pipeline manufacturing using Quickstep’s patented fluid-based technology would lead to a range of significant benefits, including improved strength and corrosion resistance in the pipes, as well as reduced manufacturing costs through faster processing times. In addition, due to the portability of Quickstep’s manufacturing equipment, QuickPipes would provide customers with the ability to manufacture and “meld” sections of pipe on-site, rather than having to ship the finished product from the manufacturer, leading to a substantial reduction in the logistics costs currently incurred. The potential ability to “meld” joints on-site is also seen as a significant benefit in providing a fully sealed pressure pipe solution. Initial proof of concept carbon fibre pipes have already been produced by VCAMM (Quickstep’s joint venture partner at Deakin University) in conjunction with Vortex, which they say show exceptional strength-to-weight ratios when compared to current market offerings and traditional steel and concrete reinforced pipes. The Managing Director of Vortex, Mr Trevor Gosatti, said the application of advanced composite technology in pipe manufacturing was becoming increasingly prevalent, as infrastructure asset owners recognised the improved ‘whole-of-life’ cost of these products. “Vortex is receiving increasing enquiries from customers interested in alternatives to traditional steel pipe, who face large cost increases due to the increasing raw material costs,” Mr Gosatti said. “While the industry is currently dominated by steel pipes due to their historical manufacturing base, we are seeing an increasing move towards composite pipe products due to their improving cost viability, reduced maintenance costs and longer lifespan. I believe the development of a new generation of advanced composite pipe cured using the Quickstep Process could see the beginning of an industry shift towards advanced composites particularly in specialist large diameter steel pipe replacement,” he continued. Mr Gosatti also said the portability of Quickstep’s manufacturing equipment would be a significant benefit for QuickPipes. “At the moment, customers are shipping fully completed pipes which are large and require a considerable amount of space when being transported – most of which is just vacant space within the pipe,” Mr Gosatti commented. “Because Quickstep’s machines are portable, we can simply ship Quickstep’s manufacturing equipment closer to the site and manufacture the pipes when and where they are required. This would save customers a substantial amount in logistics and transportation costs, further enhancing the attractiveness of QuickPipes products.” Quickstep’s Managing Director, Mr Nick Noble, said the QuickPipes Joint Venture had the potential to open up a significant new global market for the application of Quickstep’s manufacturing technology. “Working together with Vortex, our aim is to develop a very strong and light advanced composite pipe such as a carbon fibre pipe, that would be easier to lay and longer lasting than existing products,” Mr Noble said. “I believe the Quickstep Process can deliver significant benefits in pipe manufacturing, which could lead to an important new customer base for Quickstep.” “The Quickstep Process has the potential to bring about a step-change in the manufacture of high-pressure pipes, offering an alternative to traditional materials such as steel and steel reinforced concrete, which have experienced significant cost increases and availability issues in the current booming world economic environment,” he continued. The first stage of the joint venture will explore the use of the Quickstep Process to cure various pipes using a range of fibres and resins. The proving of the improved pipe properties expected using this process will allow detailed market research on the large potential for this product worldwide. This will be followed by the construction of the first QuickPipes manufacturing plant. The expected investment for Stage 1 of the project is a value of up to $750,000. It is expected that QuickPipes could produce early cash flow for the Joint Venture by the end of 2008/09 through the development and production of niche fittings for existing markets, and could produce commercial-ready lengths of finished pipe by the last quarter of 2009.

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Ashland Introduces New Envirez Resins for General Laminating and Infusion

7th May 2008 0 comments

Two new Envirez renewably-sourced unsaturated polyester resins are now available from Ashland Composite Polymers. Envirez L 86300 resin for general laminating applications and Envirez 86400 INF resin for the infusion process combine Ashland’s bio-resin formulation technology with DuPont Tate & Lyle Bio Product’s Susterra1 propanediol to maximize both resin performance and bio content. Ashlans say that Envirez L 86300 resin is thixotropic and features excellent physical properties with high heat resistance and is user-friendly for spray-up or hand lay-up composite fabrication processes. Envirez 86400 INF resin also features excellent physical properties and high heat resistance but is specifically formulated to maximize wet-out in the infusion process. “As demand for green products has increased, so has demand for Envirez resin. By incorporating Susterra propanediol, we are now able to expand the range of applications for Envirez resins and offer a sustainable material option to a larger portion of our customer base,” said Jud Smith, vice president, Ashland Performance Materials, general manager, Ashland Composite Polymers.

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Air Force to Provide Funding for Polyimide Prepreg Material Qualification

7th May 2008 0 comments

The U.S. Air Force Research Lab is funding the qualification of a non-methylenedianiline (MDA) polyimide material for use in both airframe and engine applications. Both the Air Force and NCAMP, who is coordinating this effort, believe that polyimide-based composite materials are a viable substitute for many aerospace parts currently made out of titanium. The scarcity of raw material and high manufacturing costs associated with titanium make finding a substitute material attractive to the aerospace industry. Polyimide composites can replace titanium in many applications that require less than 500°F operating temperature while offering potential advantages such as lower cost and reduced weight. The advantages of a polyimide over epoxy and bismaleimide include a higher operating temperature, which may reduce or eliminate the need of thermal insulation in some applications. The material property data acquisition and qualification test plan will generate basic material allowables typically needed for airframe and engine applications and material properties typically needed to establish material control. The available funding will be limited to the qualification of either one resin with two product forms or two resins with one product form. The requirement for the high temperature and high pressure autoclave curing process will likely limit the number of companies participating in process equivalency. However, the need from the aircraft companies will inspire their suppliers and part fabricators to participate in equivalency due to the access they will gain to the data for use in designing parts. Currently, NCAMP has four companies interested in proposing materials for qualification. The U.S. Air Force Research Lab is also interested in funding a limited amount of testing to screen for compatible film adhesives for cocure and cobond applications with the prepregs currently undergoing NCAMP qualifications. Companies currently participating in NCAMP qualification and equivalency programs have been asked to submit suggestions for film adhesives that are compatible with the prepregs currently being qualified, including ACG MTM45-1, Cytec 5215, Cytec 5250-5, Cytec 977-2, Hexcel 8552, Newport 4708, Nelcote E752, and Tencate TC250. The film adhesives will be chosen by material users to finalize the selection. Two film adhesives per prepreg resin system will be tested. The test panels will be fabricated in the NIAR Composites and Advanced Materials Laboratory.

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Metyx Composites Signs Distributorship Agreement with Alcan Airex

7th May 2008 0 comments

Metyx Composites became an exclusive distributor of Alcan Airex products in Turkey as of January 2008. The distribution agreement between the two companies was a natural fit to serve the growing composites industry in Turkey. Alcan Airex is the European sales head office of the global organization Alcan Composites Core Materials and is a leading manufacturer of structural core materials. The well-known brands Airex and Baltek core materials are used by fabricators to make innovative lightweight sandwich structures. Airex and Baltek core materials feature mechanical strength, stiffness, toughness, formability, ease of use, and/or fire resistance. The product range includes balsa, cross-linked or linear foams, thermoplastic PET, industrial urethane foams, fibre-reinforced polyurethane foams, and high-performance PEI foams. Metyx Composites of Istanbul, Turkey manufactures high-performance reinforcements including multiaxial and RTM product groups. It also offers consulting services and composite products distribution. “In the first quarter of 2008, Metyx Composites’ sales of Alcan Airex products surpassed our expectations by far,” announced Fredi Kaufmann, Regional Sales Manager, Alcan Airex. “We are excited about our cooperation with Metyx Composites as well as the prospects of taking Alcan Airex to various industries in Turkey and evolving the market,” he added. “Metyx Composites is already an exclusive distributor of Aerovac, Axel, Composite Integration, Duratec, GlasCraft, Nord Composites, Polyworx, RST-5, Scott Bader, Spheretex, and Tubus Waben products. Core materials were missing from the total solutions package, but they now serve as a major addition to our distribution offerings. Alcan Composites Core Materials is the largest and most well-known core materials supplier in the world with production locations in Europe, North America, Ecuador and China. It is a globally recognized brand that also helps strengthen our position in the marketplace. We see Alcan Airex as a valuable partner who will play a key role in developing the Turkish composites market,” explained Ugur Ustunel, VP New Business Development, Metyx Composites. “The plan is to grow the market for Alcan Airex in Turkey and then invest in a core material conversion facility at Metyx Composites’ new factory, which will be built in 2009, at our Istanbul headquarters. This will further increase the service levels offered to Metyx Composites customers, while providing for shorter lead times and flexible production,” concluded Mr. Ustunel.

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Hexcel Opens First Carbon Fibre Plant in Spain

7th May 2008 0 comments

Hexcel opened its first European carbon fibre plant at the end of April, a special ceremony attended by over 200 people. The new plant, located at Illescas near Toledo, is the first ever plant to manufacture carbon fiber in Spain. The new Hexcel plant was opened by the Regional President of Castilla La Mancha, Excelentísimo Señor Don Jose Maria Barreda, in the presence of Dave Berges, Hexcel Chairman and CEO and Bill Hunt, Hexcel President. Amongst the attendees were representatives from the neighbouring Airbus plant that will be a major customer for the HexTow carbon fibres made at the new facility. Other attendees included customers from the aerospace and composites industry, local dignitaries and regional representatives. After touring the new plant, attendees listened to speeches by Dave Berges, Excelentísimo Señor Don Jose Maria Barreda, Andrea Domenichini, Hexcel’s VP Operations and Ilustrísimo Señor D. Jose Manuel Tofiño, the Mayor of Illescas. In his opening address Dave Berges, said: “We are very honoured to be opening Hexcel’s new carbon fiber plant in Castilla La Mancha. This is the first ever carbon fibre facility to be built in Spain – and is the first for Hexcel in Europe. It is a key part of Hexcel’s ongoing investment to increase carbon fibre capacity worldwide. “We are passionate about carbon fibre and carbon fibre reinforced prepregs here at Hexcel. That’s why we embarked on a $280 million investment program to boost our carbon fibre capacity to 7000 tons both in Europe and the USA by the end of 2009. The extra capacity is essential to meet the growing use of carbon fibre composites in both commercial and military aircraft as well as selected industrial applications. “I wish to thank the Hexcel project team and our suppliers for their outstanding support in seeing this project through, on schedule. They have created a state of the art carbon fibre manufacturing facility that will support the future of the European aerospace industry. The new Illescas plant is close to Hexcel’s established plant located in Parla, near Madrid. The Parla plant will convert carbon fibre from Illescas into prepregs, used to produce aerospace components such as A320/A330 horizontal empennage and A380 rear fuselage section.

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Interplastic Introduces COR-Grip Brand Putties and Adhesives

7th May 2008 0 comments

Interplastic Corporation has newly branded its line of putty and adhesive products as COR-Grip. The COR-Grip products are represented by a comprehensive line of polyester and vinyl ester putties and adhesives. These products are designed for a multitude of applications associated with the bonding of composite materials. COR-Grip putty has been widely accepted by several large boat manufacturers for use in their manufacturing process. “These products provide exceptional adhesive, structural and application properties, required for the most demanding applications,” explains Jim Luke, Business Manager, Gel Coat & Colorant Group.

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Owens Corning Completes Sale of Composite Manufacturing Plants

7th May 2008 0 comments

Owens Corning has completed the sale of two composite manufacturing plants, located in Battice, Belgium, and Birkeland, Norway, to Platinum Equity

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Bluewater 16 inch Composite Cryogenic Hose Passes Type Approval Tests

7th May 2008 0 comments

Bluewater Energy Service, has announced that the type approval programme of the 16 inch Composite Cryogenic Hose has been completed successfully, following the type approval of the 8 inch hose which was already announced earlier this year. The Lloyd’s type approval of the 16 inch hose is part of the exclusive license agreement and further planned technological developments of the Composite Cryogenic Hose technology. Bluewater holds the exclusive rights to commercialise and market the patented Composite Cryogenic Hose for LNG transfer. The type approval testing programme has been executed for the certification of the hose against the applicable codes, such as the IMO IGC and relevant USCG and OCIMF standards and guidelines. In addition to the requirements for the approval of these codes, the 100 barg maximum pressure test was executed using liquid nitrogen at cryogenic temperatures to demonstrate the suitability and capacity of the Composite Cryogenic Hose for LNG transfer. As a result of the type approval test programme the 16 inch hose will have a certified working pressure of 20 barg. “We are excited about the attention the hose has received so far, in particular from the major oil companies”, commented Bluewater’s President, Hugo Heerema, “We expect even more attention during and after the OTC week in Houston”.

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