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Nine Companies Rewarded for Composite Innovations

  • Friday, 7th August 2009
  • Reading time: about 10 minutes

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Nine companies and their 15 partners will receive Innovation Awards at the JEC Asia Composites Show, running from October 14-16, 2009 in Singapore.

JEC’s Innovation Awards Programme was created in 1998 with the goal of promoting innovation. “Through this programme, the JEC Group projects and promotes successful innovation strategies onto the international scene throughout the year”, explained Frédérique Mutel, JEC President and CEO.

Each year, a jury of renowned international experts chooses the best composite innovations, based on their technical interest, market potential, partnership, financial impact and originality. The 2009 jury is composed of 13 international composite experts from various organisations around the world.

This year, the winners were selected from the following categories: Environment and Recycling, Raw Materials, Process, Automation, Aerospace, Building and Construction, Sports and Leisure and Transportation. The decision to give prominence to these projects was based on their atypical nature amongst other noteworthy aspects.

The 2009 JEC Awards ceremony will take place on Wednesday October 14th at 5:00 pm on the JEC Show and will be open to all visitors (free access).

Category: Environment & Recycling
Environmentally-friendly surfboard uses renewable cellulose reinforcements
Winner: Cobra International Co., Ltd. (Thailand)
Partner: Porcher Industries (France)

Cobra international has launched a brand new environment-friendly surfboard, using renewable Greenlite cellulose fibre reinforcements developed by Porcher Industries.

Greenlite uses pure cellulose fibres to replace glass fibres. Porcher says that the new material constitutes a significant advance, since the other bio-based solutions considered did not offer the required quality, reproducibility and strength. The material is biodegradable and compatible with bio-based resins, making it suitable for the production of 100%-bio-based composites on a large scale.

This new material is processed using standard equipment, with no modification of the existing technology. The new reinforcement has a unique whiteness and a positive effect on final part surface quality, thus improving aspect and minimizing subsequent rework.

The finished surfboards are said to offer excellent surface finish and good performance without any gain in weight.

Category: Raw Materials
A ground-breaking material endowing composites with high fire-resistant properties
Winner: Regina Glass Fibre Pty Ltd. (Australia)
Partners: CRC-ACS (Australia) and Ampelite (Australia)

FireShield is a chemically loaded surface tissue that can be added to any composite laminate during manufacture to provide fire resistance. Using this product as a normal surface tissue, the manufacturer produces a fire-resistant laminate.

When FireShield is used as the exterior ply in a composite laminate, the halogen-free fire-retardant chemical is placed just beneath the surface, where it is most needed. This approach to providing fire resistance does not require any special fire-retardant resins, and thus allows standard laminating resins to be used to manufacture composites that meet international fire standards.

When exposed to flame, FireShield produces a well-bonded charred layer on the surface of the product. This insulates the product and inhibits the passage of oxygen, thereby smothering the flame. Regina Glass claims that the environmental problems caused by the use of halogenated systems are avoided. They also say that laminate manufacture is straightforward due to the use of standardised resins, material costs are lower, and there is no compromise in the strength or stiffness of the composite laminate.

Although non-woven glass tissue provides the lowest-cost fabric for the FireShield technology, carrier fabrics of other fibres such as polyester or carbon, either woven or non-woven, can be used to meet specific engineering design requirements.

Another benefit highlighted by Regina Glass is that staff won’t require additional training. Companies can continue to use their normal manufacturing processes and resins, which opens the door to businesses of all sizes to participate in the fire-protection field without further capital investment.

Category: Process
Design and development of all-composite tankers
Winner: Modern Engineering Plastics Pvt, Ltd. MEPPL (India)
Partners: NGN Composites (India), CNC Technics Pvt. Ltd. (India), Crescent Consultants (United Kingdom) and TIFAC Govt. of India

It is claimed that the composite tankers are more resistant to water and many chemicals than their metallic predecessors, their high strength-to-weight ratio and stiffness-to-weight ratio make them lighter and long lasting and they offer 45% weight saving over a steel tanker. The joint-less winding of shell in an automated machine makes production faster and the product stronger. Two tankers can be made in a day vs. several days for steel. A factor of safety of six or above is guaranteed without any resin leakage.

Traditional tankers have a steel or aluminium body, with or without rubber lining inside, which requires frequent repair and relining every four years. Unlike pressure vessels, road tankers for transportation of liquids under gravity are made of double-‘D’-shaped cross-sectional profiles in order to keep the overall centre of gravity low for better stability and vehicle road holding.

Negotiations are in process with a major truck manufacturer in India for marketing the product with annual initial sales of 500 tankers.

Category: Automation
A laser-assisted thermoplastic tape placement process
Winner: Fraunhofer IPT (Germany)
Partners: Suprem SA (Switzerland) and Diehl Aircabin GmbH (Germany)

A new technique of laser-assisted thermoplastic tape placement has been developed, which enables the fully automatic production of light-weight components from filament-reinforced plastics.

The newly designed process delivers substantially higher processing speeds (i.e. shorter production cycles) and requires a substantially smaller energy input during the manufacturing process than the conventional thermoset tape placement technique, which is currently used to produce these components.

It allows the manufacturer, for example, to dispense with the hot-setting process, required to harden the currently used thermosets, which incurs high investment and process costs, because of its high energy consumption over several hours.

The breakthrough was made possible by some key contributions from the tape manufacturers Suprem SA who optimized their tape production processes to match the requirements posed by the laser-assisted tape placement technology, enabling the company to supply continuously improved tapes.

The Fraunhofer IPT played the key role in the development project, having designed, developed and constructed the facility as well as the methods for the process analysis and process development and having assumed the responsibility of managing and coordinating the project.

A vital contribution to the increases in component quality was provided by Diehl Aircabin who had provided real component specifications and verified these by subjecting component samples to technical inspections.

Category: Aerospace
Composite applications for radio telescopes (CART) project
Winner: National Research Council of Canada – Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics’ (HIA) Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory (DRAO) – (Canada)
Partner: Profile Composites (Canada)

The Composite Applications for Radio Telescopes (CART) project is an ongoing effort to investigate the application of composite materials to radio telescope structures to provide a cost-effective collecting area for the Square Kilometer Array (SKA).

The CART Mk 2 reflector demonstrates the potential of composite materials for the construction of radio antennas in the size range of 10 m to 15 m.

In 2007, the first 10-m prototype reflector was completed. The result was a lightweight (~1000 kg), stiff reflector with a surface accuracy of 1.2 mm RMS. The Mk2 design consists of a one-piece surface and rim, eight radial beams and a central hub. The dish surface and rim was infused as one piece to reduce labour, elapsed hours, and time in mould. The hub and beams were fabricated in parallel and then bonded onto the surface/rim while it was still on the mould, capturing the surface shape.

Category: Building & Construction
FRPM pipes for sewage system
Winner: Kurimoto Plastics Co., Ltd. (Japan)
Partner: National Institute for Rural Engineering (Japan)

The FRP layer consists of high-strength glass fibres wound in the circumferential and axial directions by the filament winding process and hardened by thermosetting unsaturated polyester resin. The included resin mortar is a polyester concrete made from selected fine sand hardened by unsaturated polyester resin, having a compressive strength several times as high as an ordinary cement concrete. The interior and exterior FRP layers bear the bending stress of pipes, while the middle resin mortar layer keeps each FRP layer at a certain interval and transmits shearing force.

According to Kurimoto Plastics, the benefits of this system compared to traditional concrete pipes are increased corrosion resistance, flexibility (ideal in earthquake-prone regions), and strength; Kurimoto Plastics say they don’t require any special foundation, regardless of ground depth, deep or shallow.

Kurimoto Plastics Co., Ltd. has developed rehabilitation methods for overage pipelines or tunnels through a joint research project with the National Institute for Rural Engineering. One is the SIL method using thin-walled FRPM pipes to rehabilitate over-aged pipelines. Another is the horseshoe-type pipe-in-tunnel construction method to rehabilitate over-aged tunnels.

Category: Sports and Leisure
“Jointless” composite hockey stick
Winner: Composites Busch SA (Switzerland)
Partners: Huntsman (China) and EPFL (Switzerland)

Huntsman Advanced Materials provided the Araldite NanoTech composite RTM system, blended with organic nano-particles to produce a one-piece hockey stick capable of delivering the strength needed for competition.

The challenge was designing an ice-hockey stick that had good stick and blade slashing properties, as well as bending and torsion features, and could focus the energy efficiently onto the puck. By using a one-piece design, Huntsman claim that the energy is smoothly and accurately transferred through the stick to the blade and then to the puck with total control from the player.

Today, Busch produces 5,500 hockey sticks a year and their goal is to increase production by 25%.

Category: Transportation/ Marine
Interceptor boats boast all-carbon hull
Winner: DK Composites (Malaysia)
Partner: Damen Shipyards Gorinchem (The Netherlands)

The Damen Interceptor 1102 (pictured) is a new generation of ultra-fast boats featuring special hulls made entirely out of carbon and glass fibre composites.

These boats can reach operating speeds of 60 knots, are highly manoeuvrable, and are designed for maritime law enforcement operations.

The structural design uses advanced carbon and glass composites, making it a small, lightweight craft, which is inexpensive not only in terms of the purchase price, but also in terms of fuel consumption. It is intended to combine reliable technology with good seagoing behaviour and high speeds, for intercepting fast-moving targets.

Having heard of the company’s reputation for fabricating high-quality composites hulls, Damen commissioned DK to build the first Damen Interceptor 1102 in 2007. In 2008, Damen awarded a contract to DK Composites Sdn Bhd for the building of four Damen Interceptors 1102 boats. In the near future, Damen intends to be able to deliver one DI 1102 unit every two weeks.

At the moment, Damen and DK Composites are discussing the series production of a 15m fully-composite pilot boat. They plan to extend their co-operation even further with the production of larger interceptor craft and various other Damen vessels between 15 and 20 m.

Category: Transportation/ Railways
A railway composite insulator
Winner: En Liang (Taiwan)
Partner: Brecknell Willis & Co. Ltd. (Taiwan)

In 2008, En-Liang worked with BW Taiwan to develop a new insulator for Taiwan’s Tao-Yuen Airport metro line which connects the airport to the Taipei area.

A BMC/SMC insulator material was developed for external use, which made it ideal for the varying environmental conditions of a Metro system. The advantages of this insulator material are its high insulation strength and En Liang claim it can be used as a substitute for ceramic insulators and a partial substitute for the metal support used for supporting the insulator.

In conjunction with the design, Ansys software was used to analyse the shape’s strength in order to prevent future failures after the mould was completed.

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