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Composites Industry News

News for April 2011


Biggest A350 XWB Carbon Fuselage Panel Manufactured

11th April 2011 0 comments

Airbus partner, Premium Aerotec, has successfully completed the curing of the largest A350 XWB fuselage panel made from carbon fibre at its site in Nordenham (Germany). Located on the forward right-hand side of the fuselage and measuring 93 square metres, the panel will undergo ultrasonic inspection, trimming and drilling in the coming days prior to being joined with the other panels that together will become the forward fuselage (Section 13-14). Airbus opted for large fuselage panels for the A350 XWB design as they can be tailored in terms of their thickness according to the different loads required at each part of the airframe. This approach enables Airbus to optimise the airframe overall which results in enhanced performance, greater robustness and less weight.

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Novel Binder-Activation Technology on Display

11th April 2011 0 comments

To support the industry with the development of automated process chains for the production of textile performs and to investigate the most relevant aspects thereof, the Institute fr Textiltechnik (ITA) of RWTH Aachen University has set up the ITA-preform centre. The ITA-preform centre includes a cutting table and an industry robot to which various end-effectors can be adapted. The textile material, typically multiaxial non-crimp-fabrics or woven fabrics made from glass or carbon fibres, can be cut into a 2-dimensional shape on a CNC-cutting table. Once the fabric is cut, the subsequent steps like (e.g. handling, joining, and cutting) are performed with a six-axis-industry robot which has a nominal maximum load of 150 kg and is mounted head over on a stiff steel gantry. The working area of the robot is greatly enlarged by an additional linear axis and totals 7×4 meter. The different end-effectors can be automatically mounted on the robot with a pneumatic tool changer. With a variety of gripping effectors, textiles can be picked up from the cutting table or any other storage. The joining of multiple layers of textiles can be realized by means of both stitching and binder technologies. At the ITA-Preformcentre almost all relevant one-sided stitching technologies are available with which 3-dimensional seams can be realized. Also, thermoplastic binder can be sprayed onto the textile using a hot melt-binder application device. The spraying nozzle can be mounted on the robot to create 3-dimensional binder patterns locally on the textile. To achieve precise cut selvedges of the near-net-shape textile preform, an ultrasonic cutting device can be coupled to the robot to perform 3-dimensional cuts. Different blades can be used to account for specific material properties. At the JEC 2011, a newly developed effector was presented. Thermoplastic binder, which can be applied to the textile with the available spraying nozzle, is activated by means of a novel hot-air pressing technology.

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Greenes Group Installs CNG Tanks Using HiPer-tex Reinforcements

11th April 2011 0 comments

Greenes Group is one of the Netherland’s leading installers and retrofitters of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) tanks for cars and light commercial vans and has now selected to fit its vehicles with tanks manufactured using HiPer-tex fibreglass from 3B. The CNG tank concept and design has recently gained composites industry recognition; it won the Composites Sustainability Award in the Market Growth category at the recent American Composites Manufacturers Association’s (ACMA) Composites 2011 trade show held (February 2-4) in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. USA.; and it was also nominated and runner-up in the Transportation category at the JEC Composites Show held in Paris at the end of March where, in addition, a car supplied by Greenes Group and fitted with the tanks was displayed. The glass fibre high pressure tanks replace those manufactured from steel which are much heavier. Marc Dirkse, CEO of Greenes Group: “”A typical 32 litre capacity CNG cylinder manufactured from HiPer-tex glass fibre is 57 percent lighter than an equivalent steel cylinder and switching to this solution provides our customers several important practical advantages and in addition has a very positive impact on the environment.”” In fact, due to their lighter weight, the glass fibre CNG tanks regain lost payload which is very important for commercial vans. These can be fitted with up to 10 cylinders of which 8 are installed under the vehicle. Marc Dirske adds, “”Greenes also operates a rental and leasing service and all our vehicles running on natural gas rely on a far cleaner combustion process and emit considerably lower levels of pollutants produced by vans and cars using traditional fuels such as petrol and diesel, and even LPG.”” “”HiPer-tex fibre can withstand immense impacts, has extremely long-term durability due to the fibre’s high mechanical strength and considerably greater resistance to fatigue,”” said Eric Debondue, Business Development Leader at 3B. The tanks are manufactured by Gastank Sweden AB to meet the very stringent ECE R110 regulation governing the use of Type IV pressure cylinders storing compressed natural gas for motor vehicles.

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World's Longest Ever Single Beam Composite Bridge

11th April 2011 0 comments

The HP FUTURE-Bridge project was set up to develop a new high-performance and cost-effective construction concept for bridges based on the application of carbon fibre-reinforced polymers (FRP) to effectively compete against conventional bridges made from concrete and steel. Co-funded by the European Commission under the 6th Framework Programme of Research, this project ran from October 2006 to September 2009. Partners included Acciona, one of Spain’s largest construction companies, and Huntsman. Carbon composites are now increasingly being considered for use in bridge structures around the world. Acciona worked with Huntsman to construct a composite pedestrian bridge in Madrid, over the Manzaneres River. Because it was to be erected over a river, the bridge needed to be made from one monolithic single piece. The challenge therefore lay in designing a load bearing, jointless, single structure that was also light enough to meet the transportation, logistics and installation requirements defined for the project. As the installation site was in the city centre, space limitations and the need to limit disruption meant the constructors were allowed a maximum of four hours to mount the bridge onsite. It was imperative that the bridge was designed to be as lightweight as possible. To achieve a weight which would assist Acciona with meeting the installation timescales while realising high levels of endurance and performance in constructing the single, jointless 44m long bridge beam, the engineers used a range of Araldite products. The beam was produced using an injection infusion process and a wet lay-up process was used to fill and reinforce the prefabricated ribs of the bridge, bonded to the beam with an epoxy adhesive system “”We needed a thick laminates manufacturing system offering good fluidity and permeability and a bonding solution with extremely reliable adhesion,”” said Anurag Bansal, Head-Manufacturing, Infrastructures Area, Acciona R&D Centre, commenting on the choice of resin system. From the initial fibre placement through to the demoulding and finishing processes it took a total 30 days to manufacture the bridge. The bridge was installed in less than 2 hours using a 75 tonne crane. By comparison, steel and concrete bridges typically take a minimum of 6 hours to install, using a 300 tonne crane. The significant weight saving created by the single composite beam allows smaller cranes to be used, providing an easier, faster and more economic installation process. “”By offering huge potential to produce more efficient and cost-effective structures, carbon composites could truly revolutionise the construction of long span bridges. They will also dramatically increase durability, reducing through-life costs and disruption due to reduced maintenance requirements. As early pioneers, we’re proud to be at the forefront of this new era in bridge design, allowing innovative and more efficient structural forms to be conceived and constructed,”” added Stefano Primi, Head-Infrastructures Area, Acciona, R&D Centre. Acciona is currently constructing a 200m long single beam bridge in Cuenca (Spain). The company also has plans to further explore the usage of composites in construction across Europe, with a longer term view to undertake similar projects on a global scale. In partnership with Huntsman, Acciona won the Civil Engineering category of the JEC Innovation Awards 2011, receiving the award in recognition of the innovative use of composites in construction.

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AGY'S S-2 Glass Fibres Provide Structural and Ballistic Protection in New Military Vehicle

11th April 2011 0 comments

AGY’s S-2 Glass fibres have been chosen as a key base material for providing both structural and ballistic protection in the new Ocelot Light Protected Patrol Vehicle (LPPV) developed by Force Protection Europe Ltd. (FPE). Designed to meet the UK Ministry of Defence’s (MoD’s) LPPV program requirements, the Ocelot provides high levels of blast protection for a vehicle its size. Developer FPE has been contracted by the UK MoD for the production of the Ocelot and has received an initial order for 200 vehicles to begin delivery in 2011 for deployment in the most hostile of operational environments. According to Drew Walker, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at AGY, “”The MoD’s LPPV vehicle program requires a significant level of armoring to protect against ballistic, mine and roadside bomb threats and this is achieved in part through the use of our S-2 Glass reinforcing fibres. S-2 Glass fibres are a high performance fibre glass offering significant improvements in performance over traditional E-Glass fibres. The composite can be built to provide structure and has the ability to handle the mechanical aspects of an advanced vehicle design. In this particular case, it also offers significant protection for both blast and ballistic testing at weights much lower than traditional metallic materials.”” “”The whole crew compartment is manufactured of the S-2 Glass composite,”” said Walker. “”This composite protection pod dampens and absorbs incoming blast waves much better than metallic crew compartments.”” In traditional light armoured vehicles, a metallic skin is backed by a composite spall liner to mitigate the behind-armor effects in an over-match situation. “”In the Ocelot, because the hull is composite,”” explained Walker, “”There is a greatly reduced spall liner requirement, further reducing weight. The choice of materials in the composite shell also affords a high level of protection against fire, smoke and toxicity that is not inherent in many of the more expensive high performance fibres.”” “”Ocelot is a step change in protected mobility for this weight and class of vehicle and I am confident that it will be used to great effect in Afghanistan and any future operations,”” said David Hind, Managing Director, Force Protection Europe. “”By working with companies like AGY, it enables us to offer innovative and superior survivability technologies to our customers.”” AGY’s S-2 Glass fibres have found increasing application in composite armour systems in recent years in the drive to make armoured vehicles light while meeting the demand for protection from new and evolving threats.

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Araldite RTM System Used for Carbon/Magnesium Wheels

11th April 2011 0 comments

NRG Wheels has produced a carbon / magnesium car wheel, to create a better driving experience based on improved handling and better impact resistance as well as reduced fuel and engine emissions. This has been achieved by focusing on the two main components of the wheel; the hub and the rim. The forged, magnesium alloy based hub of the wheel has been designed to reduce the normal cast magnesium porosity and corrosion potential of the wheel to zero. The other major feature influencing the wheel’s design and performance is the carbon composite wheel rim. NRG Wheels developed and produced the wheel rim with the support of Huntsman Advanced Materials who selected and provided an Araldite resin system especially adapted for Resin Transfer Moulding (RTM). The resin was also designed to achieve the challenging toughness and impact resistance criteria. During the RTM process to produce the carbon rims, carbon fabrics are put into a mould and injected with epoxy resin. Coated titanium fasteners working within bonded bushes fasten the hub to the epoxy carbon fibre rim, so no additional auxiliary component bonding or finishing is required. Thanks to the quality of both the resin and the processing conditions, the visible outer side of the rim has an aesthetically pleasing surface finish, showing the carbon fibre pattern. The surface is protected from UV light and other environmental elements with a tough, high gloss lacquer paint finish. The carbon/magnesium wheel is said to be 40% lighter than current aluminium or magnesium wheels. Substituting conventional materials with composites creates a direct primary weight reduction, allowing the carbon rims on the wheel to have a noticeable effect on a car’s fuel economy, reducing fuel consumption and emissions while enhancing performance and handling. When tested on a Porsche with a 380 bhp engine, Huntsman say that the carbon/magnesium wheels helped to achieve power savings of around 43 bhp, equating to an approximate fuel saving of 10%. “”The special Araldite RTM resin was ideal for this application in meeting the high strength to weight ratios required for improved impact resistance, allowing the carbon / magnesium wheel to take over two times the impact of metal wheels,”” said Bevis Musk, Research and Development Director at NRG Wheels Ltd. “”Thanks to the toughness offered by the Araldite resin system, the wheel demonstrates resistance up to an impressive 1600 joules. In contrast to metal wheels, cracks do not increase and the wheel reverts to its round shape while retaining great strength, rigidity and the flexibility required for both road and track. This makes the wheel safer in road impacts as the tyre retains its air and the car can be driven safely, even following a major impact.”” NRG Wheels and Huntsman recently won the Sports and Leisure category of the JEC Innovation Awards 2011 for the carbon/magnesium wheels, in recognition of the innovative use of composites in high performance vehicle applications.

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Victrex PEEK Polymer Used In Suprem Prepreg Tape

11th April 2011 0 comments

Suprem SA, a Swiss-based prepreg manufacturer, has reported a more than 50% annual growth in its business from prepregs made with Victrex PEEK polymer. Suprems proprietary impregnation method allows for the rapid and flexible production of a variety of prepreg tapes optimized for automated processing equipment a key requirement for the cost effective mass production of composite parts for the aerospace and industrial markets. Suprem have developed several options in fibre distribution across the section of a tape and adapted the surface qualities for the maximum energy absorbance offering higher design freedom for lighter weight and lower cost parts. “”The excellent thermal stability and consistency of Victrex PEEK polymer enables Suprem to work with tight process controls in the impregnation process for unidirectional (UD) tapes to achieve the required processability and long-term performance,”” said Hansjrg Gysin, CEO Suprem SA. Since the 1990s Victrex PEEK polymer powders and pellets have been used as a matrix material in the manufacture of advanced thermoplastic composite prepregs made of carbon, glass or aramid continuous fibres. Suprem is looking to develop applications in the future that use Victrex’s expertise in polyaryletherketones and other developments, such as VICTREX HT polymer for increased service temperatures and the reduced viscosity Victrex PEEK 90.

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Harper Launches Advanced Oxidation Ovens for Carbon Fibre Processing

11th April 2011 0 comments

Harper International has launched a new generation of custom oxidation ovens for the processing of carbon fibre available at 300mm to greater than 4000mm tow band widths. As a key feature, Harper has developed proprietary atmospheric seals based on its experience in building systems for atmospherically controlled thermal processes. Harper say that these unique seals reduce fugitive emissions, increase the active volume of the oven, and offer reduced energy consumption over alternatives. According to Harper, these and other technology advancements equal faster oxidation, improved velocity uniformity and velocity range capability, assurance of temperature uniformity throughout a variety of flow rates, and optimal control of the reaction for the customer’s product to ensure fibre quality. “”Through our many decades of experiences in the carbon fibre industry and trusted customer relationships, Harper has identified the growing need for an enhanced solution in the oxidation processing step. The existing technology is simply outdated and no longer sufficient,”” commented Robert Blackmon, Vice President, Process Systems Division at Harper. “”The unique technology enhancements incorporated in our oxidation ovens will help our customers efficiently and effectively meet advancing production needs.””

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Guang Wei Composites announce new 30 Million RMB Research and Development Facility

11th April 2011 0 comments

JEC 2011 saw Guang Wei Composites announce two developments to the market the recent awarding of the Chinese patent for their Wind Energy semi-preg materials and the opening of a new 30 Million RMB Research and Development Facility. Guang Wei Semi-Pregs The Guang Wei semi-preg materials are constructed from layers of dry reinforcement fibres and a catalysed resin matrix film. Unlike conventional prepregs, the fibrous reinforcements in Guang Wei semi-preg materials are supplied to the end-user in a non-impregnated form meaning that it is only during the final curing process that the fibres and resin matrix film are combined and the laminate ply wets out. According to Guang Wei, the dry reinforcement layers allow the laminate stack to release air between the plies without debulking, which ensures that cured laminates reliably exhibit a very low void content with simple vacuum bag processing, offering the customer significant benefits in quality control. Guang Wei’s semi-preg materials are designed for the serial manufacture of large composite components, in particular the critical sections of wind turbine blades where high laminate quality and mechanical performance is required. Guang Wei Research and Development Facility Guang Wei has also invested 30 Million RMB (3.3million Euros) in a new state of the art Research and Development facility. The 1000m2 facility houses 40 trained technicians who will focus specifically on composite material product developments such as surface coatings, fire retardant products for aerospace, lightweight carbon fibre products for marine and heavyweight materials for wind & infrastructure. The facility, recently opened in February, is located at the Guang Wei Composites’ headquarters in Weihai, Shandong.

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Composites Play Critical Role in Water Plant

11th April 2011 0 comments

A new water filtration plant under construction in The Bronx is the centrepiece of the largest single construction project in the history of New York City.

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