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JEC has announced the winners of its Composites Innovation Awards, which gives out awards to the most innovative composite solutions in a number of industry categories.
“”In the composite industry, innovation is present at each and every stage of the value chain. New-generation resins and fibres use fewer raw materials and are more compliant with regulations. Our engineers are inventing new, robotised manufacturing processes that aim at zero waste; our designers, genuine high-value-added engineering solutions that are created especially for the unique properties of composites. We are way beyond just replacing metals or wood. The composite industry is generating the shapes and structures of the Third Millennium””, says JEC Group General Manager Frédérique Mutel.
This year, the winners of the JEC Composites Innovation Awards programme are:
Innovation Winner in the Aeronautics and Space Category
Filling hollow fan blades with a vibration-damping composite material developed by Huntsman Advanced Materials (Switzerland), University of Sheffield (United-Kingdom), and Rolls Royce (United-Kingdom). The compressor fan blades on large engines for civil aircraft are hollow. Until now, honeycomb or line-core materials have been used to fill in and maintain the cross-sectional profile as the blades flex. This solution is being replaced by an epoxy-amine composite filled with special cavity fillers (syntactic composites). The new solution is easier to apply and it provides improved dynamic damping compared to existing solutions. It is also less costly. The product was put on the market in 2005, in particular on the Airbus A380 aircraft. New-generation engines will gain from the innovation.
Innovation Winner in the Ground Transport Category
A front end for the Avanto tram-train model, an impact-resistant composite structure which complies with the requirements of the DIN 5560 crash standard, developed by Jupiter Plast (Denmark), and Siemens Mass Transportation (Germany). The combination of urban and suburban traffic creates specific requirements in terms of nose design for the lead coach, where the conductor sits. This low-weight front end is the first composite structure to comply with the requirements of the existing crash standard. A vacuum-infused sandwich construction combining a Rohacell foam core with a fire-resistant methacrylic resin was used. The nose, which can withstand a 30-ton frontal impact, bends in a controlled way that leaves the conductor protected and does not deform the coach. The first parts for the Avanto Tram-train will be delivered in 2006.
Innovation Winner in the Process Category
F3P-RTM process for an eight-panel, Class A application for the Aston Martin DB9, developed by Ford Motor Company (United-States), Aston Martin (United-Kingdom), and Sotira (France). The robotized F3P Ford Programmable Preforming Process is used with chopped fibres to produce the preforms. The preforms are then used in an RTM process to obtain Class A parts directly. The robots are programmable off-line, which saves time and avoids collisions. VOC emissions are reduced. Some of the panels integrate several different functions and the process generates very little scrap (under 1%). Sotira currently produces about 15,000 parts per year and plans to reach 34,000 parts annually.
Innovation Winner in the Energy & Industry Category
A Lighting pole with controlled energy absorption characteristics to make impacts with vehicles less dangerous, developed by Mikkeli (Finland), Tehomet (Finland), and Fibrocom (Finland). Thanks to the composite pole’s channel structure, it was possible to combine lower weight, high strength, high static rigidity, good energy absorption properties, and excellent impact behaviour, and still maintain competitive production costs. The pole can blend in with the urban landscape. Given Europe’s specific impact standards – the pole achieved the best EN 12767 classification – the European market is being targeted.
Innovation Winner in the Environment Category
A Pole top equipment for power lines developed by Saint-Gobain Vetrotex (Brazil) and RGF Projetos (Brazil). At the top of each line pole, there are always technical parts, usually made of wood or metal, for supporting the electrical wiring. Here, the idea was to replace them with thermoplastic composite parts made from recycled material. The base material used is 58% recycled polypropylene mixed with 40% SFC-100 glass fibre cut into 25-mm lengths and 2% additives to improve stability and weatherability. Environmental protection was a notable concern, since recycled PP was used as material and the parts themselves are recyclable. The parts have an expected service life of 50-80 years, thanks to their high strength.
Innovation Winner in the Sports and Leisure Category
The Mantis HE electric caddy developed by Schappe Techniques (France), Thermofusion GmbH (Germany), and Carbonfunctions VertriebsGmbh (Germany). An electrically-operated golf caddy with a tube structure made of TPFL carbon-fibre reinforced thermoplastic. Bladder Inflation Moulding (BIM) is the process used. This consists in inflating a bladder inside the composite tube, which is held in place within a closed mould. The caddy has two 90-watt motors and two 6.5-Ah accumulators housed in the wheel area that give enough autonomy for an 18-hole course. The caddy is lightweight, easy to unfold at the course and to fold back up to place in the car. It requires short cycle times compared to a thermosetting solution. The caddy was launched in 2005, following two years of development.
Innovation Winner in the Construction Category
BBA (Black Bull AS) (Norway), Reichhold AS (Norway), Loe Betongelementer AS (Norway), Tele Bryggen AS (Norway), and Selco Tek AS (Norway), Kamenny Vek ( Russia): CR (composite reinforcement) frames, designed to replace steel as reinforcement for concrete structures. Here, a granular material (sand) is deposited over a continuous-carbon-or Basalt-fibre/thermoset resin reinforcement at the end of the curing process. The sand sticks to the resin, to serve ultimately as a mechanical bond with the concrete. Unlike pultrusion, which is slow, yields a smooth surface making adhesion to concrete more difficult, and produces only straight profiles, the process here is designed to produce many different shapes. At 16 m/min or an automated 50 to 100 m/min, the production capacity is also much higher than for pultrusion (30 times faster). The reinforcement weighs less than 1.5 kg. It is thus four times lighter than steel, yet has higher reinforcing properties. The first products, composite reinforcement for three floating concrete pontoons (3 x 13 m), were launched in the market in 2005.
The JEC Innovations Composites Awards Programme 2006 will take place on Tuesday March 28th at 6:00 pm at the Agora (Hall 1 – Parc des Expositions de Paris, Porte de Versailles) as part of the JEC Composites Show 2005. It will be open to trade fair visitors.
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