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Composites Industry News

News for May 2010


3B Fibreglass Helps Create Eye-Catching Design for New Sheraton hotel

3rd May 2010 0 comments

Pultruded reinforced composites using glass fibres from 3B have been used to create a new building with a unique contemporary design, facilitating a more efficient installation whilst reducing manual handling issues. The new Sheraton Hotel at Milan Malpensa Airport in Italy, which is set to open in July 2010, is a highly contemporary building. This is reflected in its design as well as the technologies that were applied and the materials that were selected for its construction. Designed by the architects King Roselli Architetti of Rome, the new building was commissioned in 2006, and constructed by Gruppo Degennaro, Bari, at a cost of approximately euro 67 million. The overall structure is 450 metres wide and 14 metres high. It has 3 floors which contain offices, 420 rooms, cafés and restaurants, and a 2000m2 Conference Centre. Architect Riccardo Roselli says: “This hotel concept is based on the idea of a large folding skin wrapping the modules containing the rooms. All the installations are hidden beneath the cover and are able to breathe through various apertures. Overall, the structure is more like a design object than a building.” A key feature of the design is the overall shape. This was achieved by applying an outer skin made from a glassfibre reinforced composite. The material was processed in Italy by “Progettazione Costruzione Ricerca” (P.C.R. Srl), using a pultrusion process. Hugues Jacquemin, Chief Executive Officer of 3B said: “Increasingly, non-corrosive fibreglass is used in metal replacement applications such as these, where they bring a number of key benefits. These include greater design freedom and lighter weight. Architects and designers looking for innovative solutions can use our materials to create stunning and durable surfaces in a wide range of shapes, whilst installers value the lighter weight, which facilitates faster – and easier – installation.” Mr. Jacquemin added: “As a leading fibreglass developer and supplier, we are committed to future development and innovation in the reinforced plastics industry. Working with P.C.R., we were able to deliver the right materials for this specific application.” King Roselli selected the glass fibre reinforced material after comparison with other cladding materials, liquid membranes and polycarbonate. Riccardo Roselli: “Whilst some of these materials were suitable for thermoforming, they offered limited bonding solutions, and did not meet all performance requirements. Sprayed liquid membranes made covering the whole building possible, however, the building was simply too large for this solution to work successfully.” Riccardo Roselli concludes: “Overall, the cost of the installed cladding is competitively priced.. I am sure this material has great potential.”

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CMS Renamed as AOC (UK) Ltd

3rd May 2010 0 comments

CMS has been renamed as AOC (UK) Ltd, effective from 30th April 2010. CMS has always been a wholly owned company of AOC LLC, and this name change will re-enforce the AOC trading name in the UK market. AOC (UK) Ltd will continue with all its other product lines giving a total service to the UK composite industry. AOC (UK) say that AOC is committed to be the world leader in resin technology and that their customers will benefit from the strength of a global manufacturer.

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DeltaWing in Technology Partnership with Milliken

3rd May 2010 0 comments

DeltaWing’s prototype chassis for the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series will feature Milliken’s thermoplastic composite, Tegris, with the intention of making the DeltaWing car one of the lightest, most impact energy absorbent and intrusion resistant open wheel racing cars ever created.

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Graphene Outperforms Carbon Nanotubes

3rd May 2010 0 comments

Three new studies from researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute illustrate why graphene should be the nanomaterial of choice to strengthen composite materials used in everything from wind turbines to aircraft wings. Composites infused with graphene are stronger, stiffer, and less prone to failure than composites infused with carbon nanotubes or other nanoparticles, according to the studies. This means graphene, an atom-thick sheet of carbon atoms arranged like a nanoscale chain-link fence, could be a key enabler in the development of next-generation nanocomposite materials. “I’ve been working in nanocomposites for 10 years, and graphene is the best one I’ve ever seen in terms of mechanical properties,” said Nikhil Koratkar, professor in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering at Rensselaer, who led the studies. “Graphene is far superior to carbon nanotubes or any other known nanofiller in transferring its exceptional strength and mechanical properties to a host material.” Results of Koratkar’s studies are detailed in three recently published papers: “Fracture and Fatigue in Graphene Nanocomposites,” published in Small; “Enhanced Mechanical Properties of Nanocomposites at Low Graphene Content,” published in ACS Nano; and “Buckling Resistant Graphene Nanocomposites,” published in the journal Applied Physics Letters. Advanced composites are increasingly a key component in the design of new windmill blades, aircraft, and other applications requiring ultra-light, high-strength materials. Epoxy composite materials are extremely lightweight, but can be brittle and prone to fracture. Koratkar’s team has infused the advanced composites with stacks, or platelets, of graphene. Each stack is only a few nanometers thick. The research team also infused epoxy composites with carbon nanotubes. Epoxy materials infused with graphene exhibited far superior performance. In fact, adding graphene equal to 0.1 percent of the weight of the composite boosted the strength and the stiffness of the material to the same degree as adding carbon nanotubes equal to 1 percent of the weight of the composite. This gain, on the measure of one order of magnitude, highlights the promise of graphene, Koratkar said. The graphene fillers also boosted the composite’s resistance to fatigue crack propagation by nearly two orders of magnitude, compared to the baseline epoxy material. Though graphene and carbon nanotubes are nearly identical in their chemical makeup and mechanical properties, graphene is far better than carbon nanotubes at lending its attributes to a material with which it’s mixed. “Nanotubes are incredibly strong, but they’re of little use mechanically if they don’t transfer their properties to the composite,” Koratkar said. “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and if that link is between the nanotube and the polymer, then that is what determines the overall mechanical properties. It doesn’t matter if the nanotubes are super strong or super stiff, if the interface with the polymer is weak, that interface is going to fail.” Koratkar said graphene has three distinct advantages over carbon nanotubes. The first advantage is the rough and wrinkled surface texture of graphene, caused by a very high density of surface defects. These defects are a result of the thermal exfoliation process that the Rensselaer research team used to manufacture bulk quantities of graphene from graphite. These “wrinkly” surfaces interlock extremely well with the surrounding polymer material, helping to boost the interfacial load transfer between graphene and the host material. The second advantage is surface area. As a planer sheet, graphene benefits from considerably more contact with the polymer material than the tube-shaped carbon nanotubes. This is because the polymer chains are unable to enter the interior of the nanotubes, but both the top and bottom surfaces of the graphene sheet can be in close contact with the polymer matrix. The third benefit is geometry. When microcracks in the composite structure encounter a two-dimensional graphene sheet, they are deflected, or forced to tilt and twist around the sheet. This process helps to absorb the energy that is responsible for propagating the crack. Crack deflection processes are far more effective for two-dimensional sheets with a high aspect ratio such as graphene, as compared to one-dimensional nanotubes. Koratkar said the aerospace and wind power industries are seeking new materials with which to design stronger, longer-lived rotor and wind turbine blades. His research group plans to further investigate how graphene can benefit this goal. Graphene shows great promise for this because it can be produced from graphite, which is available in bulk quantities and at relatively low cost, he said, which means mass production of graphene is likely to be far more cost effective than nanotubes. Koratkar’s research is funded by the U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR), U.S. Army, and the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF).

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BMW Group Carbon Fibre Megacity Vehicle to launch in 2013

3rd May 2010 0 comments

The Megacity Vehicle will be a zero-emission urban car for the world’s metropolitan regions, currently being developed as part of ‘project i’, and will be available from 2013 under a sub-brand of BMW.

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787 Dreamliner Undergoing Extreme-Weather Testing in Florida

3rd May 2010 0 comments

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner has begun a series of extreme-weather tests, in a special hangar at the McKinley Climatic Laboratory at Elgin Air Force Base that allows the airplane to experience heat as high as 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46 Celsius) and as low as minus 45 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 43 Celsius).

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Toray Partners with A&P to Provide Braided Prosthetics

3rd May 2010 0 comments

With support from Toray Carbon Fibers America, A&P Technology has braided four inch, five inch, and six inch diameter sleevings that will allow the manufacture of thousands of prosthetic devices.

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Esprit Project Shows Strong Promise for Flowing Self Reinforced Plastics

3rd May 2010 0 comments

The Esprit project, funded by the EC FP7 programme, started in 2008 and is a three and a half year project which aims to take Self Reinforced Plastic (SRP) technology to a new level by modifying the fibre and matrix and by radically improving the processing methods. The aim is to develop production-ready technology utilising advanced selective melting processes, allowing the materials to be flow-moulded without affecting the reinforcing fibre properties. The Esprit project has completed its first year of research and has carried out an extensive programme of locating, manufacturing and characterising the base materials from which the flowing Self Reinforced Plastics will be made. These are variations on Self Reinforced Polyolefins (srPO), Self Reinforced Nylons (srPA) and Self Reinforced Polyesters (srPet) and some early processing trials have been carried out in order to measure critical temperatures and shrinkage characteristics. Using SRP materials material usage and component weight is expected to be reduced by 30% for equivalent stiffness over conventional materials, resulting in energy saving in both manufacture and in use through, for example, lighter vehicles. Early trials of selective heating by means of susceptor additives have shown strong promise and a variety of options are available for development. The aim is to have SRP systems for existing moulding technology and for new specialist moulding technology in order to maximise the commercial potential for these new materials. Partners have made excellent progress in the pultrusion of commingled yarns into a continuous rod which is subsequently chopped into pellets for flow moulding applications. A custom built line has been running successfully which can produce 5kg/hr of pellets derived from PA, PBT, PP and PET combinations. A special cutter has been developed as these thermoplastic reinforcements present very different characteristics to traditional carbon/glass reinforcements. The Esprit project now has a stable basis to efficiently make pellet samples derived from the many modified matrix and reinforcement raw materials being generated by other partners. A polypropylene based polymer fibre reinforced composite has been created with an extremely high impact strength. The composite, containing relatively long fibres, shows an unusual but highly attractive combination of high modulus, high strain at break, high impact resistance and low notch sensitivity: ▪ Compared to the polypropylene base material the modulus is increased with almost 100%, the strength is increased with more than 50%, while at the same time the strain at break is still high at over 20%. ▪ The most remarkable property is the notched impact strength: it increases from 3 to 55 kJ/m2. This is much higher than even the best impact modified polypropylenes, while the modulus is much higher. ▪ A self reinforced polyester has been developed that shows a 50% increase in the tensile modulus compared to unfilled polyester, without increasing the density of the material. These material contain fibres up to 10 mm and can be injection moulded into complex shapes – the challenge being to maintain fibre reinforcement integrity through the whole process. The optimum processing of the new materials is achieved by standard machines adapted in the areas of plastification, injection phase, the heating of the polymer and the temperature control in barrel and mould. The consortium has been selected to encompass skills in materialmodification, machinery building, testing, processing and manufacture resulting in a strong team of participants: AIMPLAS, AVK, EATC, Comfil, Fibroline, Fricke und Mallah Microwave Technology, IVW, NetComposites(coordinator), PEMU, Polisilk, Promolding, Regloplas, Structoform and Ticona.

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Gurit and EFW Elbe Flugzeugwerke Extend Cooperation for Airbus Aircraft

3rd May 2010 0 comments

Gurit and Elbe Flugzeugwerke GmbH have signed a memorandum of understanding to intensify the cooperation of the two companies in the area of floor panel materials for Airbus aircraft. The wholly owned EADS subsidiary EFW has nominated Gurit as supplier for tape material used for the floor panels of the new Airbus A350 airplanes. The agreement also provides for increased material shipments by Gurit for the A320 family of aircraft as well as a generally intensified cooperation to jointly tap new customer segments including rail traffic applications.

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Zoltek Forms New Subsidiary For High-Volume Applications

3rd May 2010 0 comments

Zoltek has formed a new subsidiary, called Zoltek Automotive, Inc., to speed the development of high-volume applications for lightweight carbon fibers within the automotive industry. More than a dozen Zoltek engineers and technicians from across Zoltek’s existing business, as well as Zoltek’s globally positioned sales people, will be joined in the new company by two highly regarded experts in automotive composite applications who will lead the Zoltek Automotive group in this effort. Zoltek has appointed David Stewart, founder of Stewart Automotive Research, to be the chief executive, and Martin O’Connor to be the president of Zoltek Automotive. Stewart has worked with many of the world’s top automakers, oil and gas companies and semiconductor companies in analysis and quality control needed for introducing new materials and processes into mass production. His work has included detailed analysis and computer cost modelling for auto companies in the area of composites. O’Connor, who served as director of McLaren Composites for four years, has a wealth of experience in the composites industry gained from long experience in Formula 1 racing and working on super-car programs. In addition, he has set up a number of companies and carried out extensive consulting work for major composites companies in Europe and Asia developing business strategies, new products and technical partners. Zoltek Automotive will be based in St. Louis at the Zoltek Companies, Inc. headquarters.

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