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Composites Industry News

News for November 2010


The Composite Trailer: A Green Revolution in Transport

7th November 2010 0 comments

An aerodynamic shaped composite truck trailer has been developed that weighs 1200 kg less than one made from steel. EPL Composite Solutions developed a new material for the trailer within the EU funded research project CleanMould. The new composite material contains double the volume of glass fibres compared to common composites, using a low viscosity thermoplastic resin from Cyclics Corporation in Germany. Glass fibre mats impregnated with resin powder are placed into vacuum bag on a mould and heated to 200C where the powdered resin melts. Five percent of fuel can be saved through the weight reduction, but even more important is its improved shape. This allows the designers to change its aerodynamic properties and the design has an inherent drag reduction of 13 percent that can be further improved to 20 percent with optimisation of the design. At high speeds, such as motorway cruising, this aerodynamic drag is the dominant factor in determining heavy goods vehicle fuel consumption. With the new shape another 10 percent of fuel can be saved. The prototypes have been tested thoroughly on a series of demanding test tracks at the Motor Research Industry Association (MIRA) in Warwickshire, the biggest test ground in the UK. They included a braking test, speed bumps and cobblestone roads. Deflections and accelerations through the trailer have been measured to see which parts in the trailer are under high stress or strain. The results so far are very promising and the engineers envisage already the next steps: The composites are ready to roll out into the industry now, says Matthew Turner, CleanMould project coordinator and Composite Engineer at EPL.

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Latest Advances in Large Scale Materials, Design and Manufacturing

7th November 2010 0 comments

This week, advances in large scale manufacturing, design and materials will be discussed at Composites Innovation 2010 being held in Manchester, UK on the 9th and 10th November. Over recent years there has been a trend towards large lightweight structures in many industries including wind, aerospace, construction and mass transit which pose considerable challenges to the designer. This conference will provide a forum for the exchange of information on this recent trend and the need for composite materials, design and manufacturing technologies to meet this demand. The conference will build on the success of the 2007 event, breaking new ground by presenting the best quality research and technical innovations alongside detailed case studies demonstrating how to effectively transfer new technologies into commercial applications. Presenting companies include CGTech, Composite Integration, Cranfield University, Dantec Dynamics, Dassault Systemes, EPL Composite Solutions, Exel Composites, Glyndwr University, Gurit, Materials KTN, National Composites Centre, North West Composites Centre, Optima Projects, QinetiQ, Solent Composite Systems and Solvay. There will also be an overview of the Grand Challenge and how the i-Composites project is helping to deliver the UK Composites Strategy. Full details on this event including the latest programme and registration information can be found on the conference website below.

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New Wind Turbine Manufacturing Facility in Michigan

7th November 2010 0 comments

Governor Jennifer M. Granholm has announced state approval of a 15-year Renewable Energy Renaissance Zone in the city of Holland that will house Energetx Composites, a manufacturer of wind turbine blades. The new manufacturing facility is expected to create up to 700 jobs and generate $18.4 million in private investment. Energetxs products have the potential to revolutionize the way that wind turbine blades are manufactured, helping position Michigan as the centre in North America for advanced green manufacturing, Granholm said. Energetx, a spin-off of S2 Yachts, produces commercial products for the wind industry. The company is considering expanding into the electric vehicle sector. The new Energetx facility will produce utility-scale wind turbine blades. The company will also provide necessary testing to ensure the proper quality of the blades and materials used in the manufacturing process. Todays announcement is the result of innovative economic development tools that allow Michigan to diversify its economy, generate private investment and create jobs, said Michigan Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Greg Main. A Renaissance Zone allows a company operating within the zone to operate free of virtually all state and local taxes over the life of the designation. Michigans Renaissance Zone program is administered by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC).

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Gamesa to Base Offshore Business in the UK

7th November 2010 0 comments

Gamesa intends to choose the United Kingdom as the worldwide centre of its offshore wind energy business, and plans to invest up to 150 million euros there by 2014. The offshore industrial plan, which Gamesa plans to implement beginning in 2011 in the UK, calls for the creation of a centre for offshore technology and the construction of one turbine blade manufacturing plant. Gamesa intends to conduct its offshore business port logistics and turbine operation and maintenance services from different ports of the UK. Gamesa also intends to base the global headquarters of its offshore division in London. The London office will also handle sales, project management, finance and administration for the offshore business. Prime Minister Mr David Cameron said “”I want us to be a world leader in offshore wind energy. That’s why we’re committing public money to ensure we have the infrastructure that attracts major manufacturers to come here and build their offshore wind turbines. The commitment shown by companies like Gamesa who want to come to the UK and invest is good news for jobs and growth and good news our clean energy future. This announcement is very welcome indeed.”” The United Kingdoms resolute decision to enact an ambitious offshore plan, along with the country’s support for foreign investment and the availability of large ports – which are essential in this business – convinced us to make the decision to base the global headquarters of our offshore activity in the UK. This will involve sizeable investments in coming years and will generate local, skilled and sustainable jobs””, said Gamesa Chairman Jorge Calvet. Gamesa expects the construction and development of its offshore wind energy business in the UK to directly generate more than 1,000 jobs, with another 800 jobs created indirectly at the company’s vendors and suppliers. Turbine systems available for future North Sea projects Gamesa has previously stated that it intends to play a significant role in the offshore wind market to ensure that it capitalises on demand generated in the Northern European market, specifically the UK, beginning in 2015. The company is currently designing and developing two families of offshore turbines based on the proven and validated technology used in its G10X-4.5 MW turbine system. The first two prototypes of its G11X system, with unit capacity of 5 MW, will be tested in the last quarter of 2012, with pre-series models ready for market entry in 2013. Gamesa recently signed an agreement with Newport News Shipbuilding, a unit of Northrop Grumman Corporation, a leading US-based defence company and the No. 1 shipbuilding firm in the United States, to work together on marine wind technology. Gamesa and Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding will perform the preliminary work required to install a Gamesa G11X- -5.0 MW offshore prototype, including site selection in the US, permit requests and the construction, installation and final testing of the prototype. To meet projected growth in market demand in the medium and long term, the offshore wind industry requires new generations of larger-capacity marine turbines. To this end, Gamesa is developing another family of offshore turbines offering capacity of 6-7 MW, with a pre-series potentially available in 2014. The turbine and foundation systems developed by Gamesa and Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding Newport News address the markets main concerns, including efficiency of civil engineering infrastructures (the No. 1 investment cost for offshore wind), turbine reliability, low maintenance requirements and reducing the cost of generating electricity.

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S-2 Glass Reinforcement in Advanced Composites Demonstrator

7th November 2010 0 comments

S-2 Glass fibres are a significant component of the new Advanced Composites Demonstrator vehicle from NP Aerospace and show how the design of a protection system can be incorporated into the structural design, reducing the overall weight of both the protection and structural elements.

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Vector Composites and Quickstep Composites Enter Into Strategic Teaming Agreement

7th November 2010 0 comments

Vector Composites and Quickstep Composites have signed a strategic teaming agreement to jointly promote the Quickstep Process for system applications and customers in the aerospace and defence industries of North America. The Quickstep Process is an Out-Of-Autoclave polymer composite curing process using low cost material technologies for the high speed manufacture of advanced composite, bonded metal, and fibre metal laminated structural components. Vector and Quickstep will collaborate to create business opportunities in funded research and development (R&D), prototype development and demonstration of advanced composite structural components, and aerospace production programs. The activities will include joint presentations to potential customers and participation at industry trade shows, plus development of comparative material properties via the Quickstep Process for comparison to other processes, leading to prototype and commercial production contracts. The teaming agreement resulted from Vector and Quicksteps success in winning a major United States Air Force Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II program, expected to total about US$4 million in funding over a 27-month period. Vector is the lead contractor and Quickstep is the principal subcontractor to conduct the joint research program, which will focus on process qualification of bismaleimide and epoxy resin carbon fiber reinforced composite materials using the Quickstep Process for application to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft. Industrial partners supporting the research program include Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems and ITT Integrated Structures. Vector has also recently been granted a license to use the Quickstep Process in North America for aerospace and defense production applications, which will ultimately result in the purchase of a Quickstep production machine and associated services. Commenting on the teaming agreement, Dale Brosius, President of Quickstep Composites and a Director of its Australian parent company Quickstep Holdings Ltd, said: Based on our close working relationship with Vector, and the increasing range of opportunities to demonstrate and commercialize the Quickstep Process in the U.S. and Canada, we are excited to formalize our collaboration. Not only will the two companies work together on curing of traditional autoclave qualified and new out-of-autoclave prepregs, we will also advance the pairing of the Quickstep Process with infusion technologies brought forward by Vector. Vector CEO Lyle Dunbar further commented: We are very pleased to be the first licensee of the Quickstep Process in North America, and now have several years of experience and understanding of how it fits within our manufacturing portfolio. We have the capability to offer customers interested in Quickstep a complete solution, from part and tooling design through to serial production in our AS9100-certified Dayton facility.

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JEC Asia Reflects Growing Significance of Asian Market

7th November 2010 0 comments

Propelled by the fast pace of growth in the region, the JEC Show Asia 2010 exhibition and conference took place from October 12 to 14 in Singapore on a note of strong optimism. The composites industry in Asia has been experiencing strong growth over the past few years, and the current Asian market is estimated at more than US$26 billion, with new application developments remaining a long-term driver for composites to replace other traditional materials and also create new applications. The JEC Show Asia 2010 exhibition and conference offered a broad global overview of the economic, business, and innovation issues and challenges facing in the composites industry today, says Frdrique Mutel, President and CEO of JEC Composites Group. We have fulfilled our ultimate aim for JEC Show Asia 2010 of promoting composites developments in Asia. The environmental benefits of natural fibers and other new developments in composites recycling are key areas of interest that have sparked a lot of debate within the composites community. JEC Show Asia 2010 provided a platform for key players to have these important discussions which will have an important impact on how the composites industry develops in the future. The full lineup of JEC Show Asia 2010 exhibition, conference and business networking programs attracted 7,010 trade visitors, which include a high proportion of key decision makers in the global composites arena. The expanded scale of JEC Show Asia 2010 is a clear reflection of the highly optimistic outlook for the composites industry in Asia, says Mutel. This years growth also cements JEC Show Asias position as the key composites platform that caters to the needs of the Asian market and JECs integral role in promoting the increasing use of composite materials across a wide range of market applications in Asia. A highlight at the JEC Show Asia 2010 was the launch of the first ever Innovative International Composites Summit (IICS) in Singapore, held concurrently with the main exhibition. A key milestone for JEC, the IICS took place over three days and comprised eight economic and technical seminars that explored the latest breakthroughs in different applications sectors in the composites industry. The quality of the inaugural IICS program will boost our efforts to unveil new composite applications and trends in Asia, as well as encourage dialogue between the industry and key end users during JEC Show Asia, Mutel says. This process of information sharing is essential for the Asian composites market, where there is a strong and growing demand for a broad spectrum of leading-edge composites applications. The second IICS conference and forum is scheduled to take place at the JEC Show Paris in March 2011, with the third planned for next years JEC Show Asia in October 2011. JEC Show Asia 2010 was opened by Prof. Chong Tow Chong, Provost of the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) and keynote speaker Chuck Dana, Group President, Composites Solutions Business, Owens Corning. The Show also hosted the awards ceremony of the annual JEC Asia Innovation Awards, the program dedicated to showcasing innovative composites solutions in the Asia Pacific region. Nine companies and their partners received awards for their application developments at the JEC Asia Innovation Awards 2010. This year, the Life Achievement Award was presented to Stephen Seow, founder of Dynaglass Singapore, honouring his accomplishments in the composites field. At the Shows opening ceremony, JEC announced the launch of the JEC Global Scientific Network (GSN). The JEC GSN is an integral step in connecting key composites industry players with relevant research and educational institutions from around the world. Its global launch in Singapore is a reflection of the growing importance of the Asian composites market and the increasing concentration of research and development activities in key innovation hubs based in the Asia Pacific region. The National University of Singapore is among the founding members of the GSN which includes other educational institutions such as the Technical University of Munich, Stanford University in the US, and Hanyang University of South Korea. It will also include current JEC board members Advanced Composites Group, Umeco, AGY, Chomarat, Cray Valley, CPC, DSM, Duqueine Group, Hexcel, Huntsman, IDI Composites International, OCV, Porcher Industries and Sora. With the strong market growth the region is currently experiencing, the launch of the GSN in Asia aims to provide more immediate access to technical information related to composites, facilitate greater information exchange and keep industry players updated on the latest technological breakthroughs that are relevant to the market, says Mutel on the GSN launch. The GSN also further solidifies our commitment to develop JEC Show Asia as the regions leading composites platform to optimize production, boost knowledge and create business opportunities. JEC Show Asia 2011 will be held next year from October 18 to 20 in Singapore.

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Wing Structures Training at GKN Aerospace

7th November 2010 0 comments

Dark Matter Composites has successfully rolled out training courses to support GKN Aerospaces composite aircraft wing structures production which is set to commence next year at the companys newly constructed manufacturing facility at Western Approach, Bristol, UK. The contract covers the provision of a 5 day intensive training course based on Dark Matter Composites training format, combining theory, demonstrations, practical tasks and assessments. The course is integrated into the complete GKN Aerospace training activity for all composite production personnel. Charles Paterson, General Manager, GKN Aerospace, FIlton explains: This course provides us with a core element in the broad programme of training and investment in our team. It will create a consistent foundation, ensuring our personnel have the theoretical knowledge and practical skills necessary to apply the leading edge manufacturing technologies we are employing. By the end of this year five courses will have been delivered to a total of forty individuals. During 2011 we plan to continue with a further twelve courses. Dark Matter Composites have been responsible for developing all technical course content to UK Qualification, Certification & Development Agency standards (QCDA) combining presentation materials, tutor notes, lesson plans, practical tasks, assessment tasks and criteria to create a structured course format. The activity has also included the training and development of GKN Aerospaces in-house tutors. Technical course content is complemented by Dark Matter Composites design, manufacture and supply of mould tooling to support the course practical tasks and help highlight technical and key production process issues. GKN Aerospace also made investment in an in-house composite training facility. This has involved the installation of a full set of Dark Matter Composites point of use fume and dust extraction benches and progressive refining of the facility over a number of courses. GKN Aerospace personnel complete the course in the companys Filton-based composite training department with composites experts from both Dark Matter Composites and from GKN Aerospace delivering key theory and practical activities associated with prepreg processing for manual and automated fibre placement technologies, and with the complete composite rear spar production process. Rodney Hansen, Managing Director, Dark Matter Composites Ltd explains: GKN Aerospace has invested in a full course package which represents one of the most advanced, high end composite training courses available. The course focuses on the processes associated with primary aircraft structures, particularly the composite rear spars. We have always recommended that a programme of this nature should have its own in-house training resource. Our expertise and capability has provided GKN Aerospace with a one stop solution that is second to none. By the end of 2010, our tutors will have handed over the full delivery of the course to GKN Aerospaces trainers.

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2m Funding for Aerospace in the North West

7th November 2010 0 comments

Research into aerospace composites has received a 2 million boost from two separate projects via the Technology Strategy Board the Government funding body with a responsibility for stimulating innovation. The first project, Intertex, was a proposal put forward by the NWAA composites commodity group and its members. The group is one of several commodity groups involved in the NWAA Aerospace Supply Chain Excellence Programmes (ASCE and ASCE 2), funded by the Northwest Regional Development Agency and European Regional Development Fund. Intertex aims to produce a step-change in the cost of composite manufacturing, and the project is worth 1.74m to the region over the next two years. Led by the NWAA, the bid team included the North West Composites Centre, Aircelle Ltd, Trelleborg Offshore UK Ltd, Hyde Group, Sigmatex Ltd and Brookhouse Compsites Ltd. All team members are involved in ASCE 2. Half the funding will be given in the form of a grant from TSB, and half has been pledged in match-funding from the companies involved. The second round of funding comes from I-Composites, a national project worth 10 million in total. The bidding team was led by technology giant GKN and includes the NWAA and ASCE 2 members Aircelle, Sigmatex, the Advanced Composites Group and Bentley Motors Ltd. This project is worth 2.2m to the North West aerospace industry and is designed to achieve rapid and cost effective manufacture of high value products within composites. Again, the 50 per cent grant funding will also be matched by the companies involved. This means in total, more than 2m in grant funding will be heading to the North West. Martin Wright, chief executive of the NWAA, said: Composites are a key part of the future of our sector, and I am delighted the NWAA has helped play a part in bringing this vital funding to the North West.

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Rhodia Launches Polyamide-Based Continuous Fibre Reinforced Materials

7th November 2010 0 comments

Rhodia has launched Evolite by Technyl, a range of high performance polyamide-based continuous fibre reinforced materials, at the K 2010 trade show. Available in recyclable pre-impregnated fabrics or consolidated plates, Evolite can be made of glass, carbon or other fibres. Rhodia say that parts made in Evolite will show excellent strength and toughness, enhanced crash resistance and excellent ageing properties, with end applications including transport seating, car bumper beams and front-end structures, racing bicycle frames or window frames. In addition, they say that material fluidity allows faster production rates compared to thermoset technologies, with a major cost-competitive advantage. Evolite is a breakthrough solution with considerable growth ahead of it commented Franois Hincker, President of Rhodias Engineering Plastics Global Business Unit. We see it as setting the standard for future generations of composites.

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