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Composites Industry News

News for June 2004


Rohm and Haas Company Receive $2 Million to Develop Acrylic Polymers

4th June 2004 0 comments

Rohm and Haas will embark on a three-year effort, called Project Columbus, to develop a new platform for catalytic polymerizations. Rohm and Haas Company has received a $2 million Advanced Technology Program award from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for the development of new technologies that can be used to create a unique family of high performance acrylic polymers and copolymers. If Project Columbus is successful, the research will complete a missing link that can enable production of special acrylic polymers that offer novel performance benefits. Catalysts are substances used in minute amounts to initiate, accelerate, or control chemical reactions that would otherwise be too slow or inefficient to be economical. In partnership with the NIST Advanced Technology Program (ATP), Rohm and Haas scientists will join with researchers from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena to design and synthesize brand new catalysts. “We expect the new catalysts to deliver unprecedented performance—for the first time, we’ll be able to control the molecular architecture of acrylic polymers and combine the best features of acrylics with those of polyolefins,” said Dr. Brian Goodall, Rohm and Haas chief scientist for catalysis. “We’ll actually have the ability to control the placement of polar groups common in acrylics (the cluster of atoms that impart performance characteristics) and ultimately influence crucial performance properties, like toughness, adhesion, and surface behaviour.” Project Columbus would generate not only new catalysts, but new polymers and product lines with economic, social, and environmental benefits. New “designer polymers” could lead to special applications in architectural and automotive coatings, potentially reducing the use and emissions of volatile organic compounds that currently are used for stability and flow. Other applications that might benefit from new acrylic polymers include ink jet inks, paper coatings, adhesives, and microelectronics, to name a few. “The $2 million ATP grant is a tremendous boost to our program,” said Goodall, who leads a team of chemists based at Rohm and Haas Company’s major research campus in Spring House, Pennsylvania. “We’re thrilled to be working with our colleagues at the California Institute of Technology to develop novel polymeric materials that will impart new performance properties to both acrylics and polyolefins—properties that until now have been impossible to produce.”

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ZCL Composites Signs Major FRP Contract

4th June 2004 0 comments

ZCL Composites has been awarded a six-year contract by Imperial Oil to supply fibreglass tanks and related products for use in its operations across Canada. The contract covers the period May 1st, 2004 to April 30th, 2010. Imperial Oil is one of ZCL’s largest customers and a cornerstone of the Company’s business in Canada for many years. ZCL has secured supply agreements with most of the major and independent oil companies in Canada and, through these long-term relationships, has become a major industry supplier in underground fuel storage. Imperial Oil is one of Canada’s largest corporations and has recently been in the news for their donation of $650,000 to fund research projects at Canadian universities. The company has donated more than $3 million to Canadian university research over the last five years in the fields of engineering, environmental, earth, chemical, physical, computing and social sciences. “”Contracts such as these are an expression of confidence in ZCL and our ability to consistently supply the high quality products and services that our customers value,”” says Ven Cote, President & CEO. “”We are committed to delivering the highest levels of service and value to our customers and this contract is evidence of the long term benefits of successfully meeting that commitment.””

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Composite Beam System for High Speed Rail Bridges Uses Hardwire For Tensile Reinforcement

4th June 2004 0 comments

Teng & Associates have further developed a structural Plasticon-Optimized Composite Beam System for use in bridge structures.

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Dow Corning Receives New International Automotive Quality Award

4th June 2004 0 comments

Dow Cornings’ Multi-base production centre at Saint Laurent du Pont has been awarded the ISO/TS 16949:2002 automotive quality certification. This is the first of Dow Cornings’ sites to receive the award, which supersedes the QS 9000 accreditation it already holds, and the company is working to accomplish the same accreditation for each of its sites that serve the automotive industry. TS 16949, an international ISO standard, is the new quality standard for the auto industry that will eventually replace the QS 9000 standard. The ISO/TS 16949 quality system has been jointly developed by members of the International Automotive Task Force. This body comprises vehicle manufacturers and their respective trade associations in France, Germany, Italy, UK and USA. The specification embodies the automotive quality system requirements of the whole group and, together with customer-specific demands, defines the quality system requirements for use in the automotive supply chain. It stands together with ISO 9001:2000 accreditation, which a company must have in order to achieve ISO/TS 16949:2002 certification. “Obtaining certification was customer driven in that we are committed to automotive business and, as one of the world’s leading elastomer suppliers to the industry, we see ourselves very much as part of its quest for quality, excellence and innovation,” says Giorgio Cabrini, Operations Manager Europe, Engineered Elastomers Industry . “We decided that upgrading to ISO/TS 16949:2002 quality standard, which aligns the existing automotive quality system requirements within the industry based on the global ISO 9001:2000 standard, was the way forward and represented a natural progression of our own internal quality-driving programs,” he adds: “ISO/TS 16949 certification gives confidence to our customers and suppliers in our ability to manage our processes to deliver solutions that precisely meet the automotive industry’s needs.” Multibase is integral to Dow Corning’s global Engineered Elastomer Industry (EEI). Through its Silastic silicone elastomers. Multiflex and TPSiV thermoplastic elastomers, Dow Corning aims to deliver the broadest range of globally supported automotive solutions. Giorgio Cabrini adds: “To meet certification requirements the introduction of new procedures into the Multibase production quality system did not involve us in major changes. The new standard is more customer-focused and its structure is based on process management philosophy but we were already operating to a number of very high process standards, most of which are incorporated in the new certificate.”

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SpaceShipOne’s Space Launch Scheduled for June 21

4th June 2004 0 comments

A privately-developed rocket plane will launch into history on June 21 on a mission to become the world’s first commercial manned space vehicle. Investor and philanthropist Paul G. Allen and aviation legend Burt Rutan have teamed to create the program, which will attempt the first non-governmental flight to leave the earth’s atmosphere. Paul G. Allen and aviation legend Burt Rutan have teamed to create a manned space program, which will attempt the first non-governmental flight to leave the earth’s atmosphere. SpaceShipOne will rocket to 100 kilometers (62 miles) into sub-orbital space above the Mojave Civilian Aerospace Test Centre, a commercial airport in the California desert. If successful, it will demonstrate that the space frontier is finally open to private enterprise. This event could be the breakthrough that will enable space access for future generations. Allen, founder and chairman of Vulcan Inc, is financing the project. Along with Allen, Vulcan’s technology research and development team – which takes the lead in developing high impact science and technology projects for Allen – has been active in the project’s development and management. “”This flight is one of the most exciting and challenging activities taking place in the fields of aviation and aerospace today,”” said Paul G. Allen, sole sponsor in the SpaceShipOne program. “”Every time SpaceShipOne flies we demonstrate that relatively modest amounts of private funding can significantly increase the boundaries of commercial space technology. Burt Rutan and his team at Scaled Composites have accomplished amazing things by conducting the first mission of this kind without any government backing.”” We previously reported the test flight by SpaceShipOne in May this year in which pilot Mike Melvill reached a height of 211,400 feet (approximately 40 miles), the highest altitude ever reached by a non-government aerospace program. The pilot (to be announced at a later date) of the up-coming June sub-orbital space flight will become the first person to earn astronaut wings in a non-government sponsored vehicle, and the first private civilian to fly a spaceship out of the atmosphere. “”Since Yuri Gagarin and Al Shepard’s epic flights in 1961, all space missions have been flown only under large, expensive Government efforts. By contrast, our program involves a few, dedicated individuals who are focused entirely on making spaceflight affordable,’ said Burt Rutan. “”Without the entrepreneur approach, space access would continue to be out of reach for ordinary citizens. The SpaceShipOne flights will change all that and encourage others to usher in a new, low-cost era in space travel.’ SpaceShipOne was designed by Rutan and his research team at the California-based aerospace company, Scaled Composites. Rutan made aviation news in 1986 by developing the Voyager, the only aircraft to fly non-stop around the world without refuelling. “”To succeed takes more than the work of designers and builders’, Rutan said, “”The vision, the will, the commitment and the courage to direct the program is the most difficult hurdle. We are very fortunate to have the financial support and the confidence of a visionary like Paul Allen to make this effort possible.’ To reach space, a carrier aircraft, the White Knight, lifts SpaceShipOne from the runway. An hour later, after climbing to approximately 50,000 feet altitude just east of Mojave, the White Knight releases the spaceship into a glide. The spaceship pilot then fires his rocket motor for about 80 seconds, reaching Mach 3 in a vertical climb. During the pull-up and climb, the pilot encounters G-forces three to four times the gravity of the earth. SpaceShipOne then coasts up to its goal height of 100 km (62 miles) before falling back to earth. The pilot experiences a weightless environment for more than three minutes and, like orbital space travellers, sees the black sky and the thin blue atmospheric line on the horizon. The pilot (actually a new astronaut!) then configures the craft’s wing and tail into a high-drag configuration. This provides a “”care-free’ atmospheric entry by slowing the spaceship in the upper atmosphere and automatically aligning it along the flight path. Upon re-entry, the pilot reconfigures the ship back to a normal glider, and then spends 15 to 20 minutes gliding back to earth, touching down like an airplane on the same runway from which he took off. The June flight will be flown solo, but SpaceShipOne is equipped with three seats and is designed for missions that include pilot and two passengers.

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Ultra-light Composite Trailer Prototype from Roadlite Project

4th June 2004 0 comments

A new ultra-light semi-trailer could increase the productivity of the transport industry and reduce environmental and infrastructure damage. Manufactured from hi-tech polymer composites, the semi-trailer is able to carry a larger payload than a comparable trailer with a steel chassis. The lightweight trailer prototype is a result of the Roadlite research project, and part of the Government-backed Foresight Vehicle initiative. The initiative is led by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) and aims to catapult the UK into a dominant force in future automotive design and development. Widespread use of the trailer would see a reduction in the number of HGV journeys, an increase in fuel efficiency and consequently a reduction in CO2 emissions. A decrease in the number of truck journeys could also see a decline in the physical impact on roads and bridges. Euro-Projects (LTTC) Ltd, based in Leicestershire, UK, led the project with support from industry and academic partners including Southfields Coachworks Ltd, Vosper Thornycroft (VT Group), Leyland Technical Centre (LTC Ltd) and the University of Nottingham. The overall aim of the project was to develop the design and processing methodologies required to manufacture the lightweight semi-trailer and, via the use of advanced design techniques, construct a working prototype. An additional aim was to design the trailer with the intention that it would be easily adaptable to suit all configurations of HGV body styles including boxed, flatbed and curtain-siders. Initial market research revealed the most appropriate case study for the project to be a 9750mm 28-tonne urban articulated trailer, which offered the most practical demonstrator in terms of technical, environmental and commercial exploitation. A traditional steel trailer of this specification was manufactured and tested in order to set comparable boundaries for the composite trailer. The results of this testing formed the basis for the lightweight design, which utilised advanced fibre reinforced polymer composite materials and sandwich construction technologies. Manufactured using the vacuum infusion technique, the full size 9750mm composite trailer was completed with all ancillaries required to make it fully operational and subjected to extensive testing by LTC Ltd. The prototype composite trailer proved to be 300kg lighter than its steel equivalent and capable of withstanding 23-tonne concentrated loads. Results gleaned from the trailer have been utilised in the construction of a second lightweight composite semi-trailer, which is also 9750mm long. Initial testing has revealed this prototype to be 400kg lighter yet more rigid than the comparable steel unit. These prototypes use a flatbed configuration and the weight saving over a comparable steel semi-trailer has been achieved by replacing the chassis alone. Where a boxed trailer is required there is room for even greater weight loss by creating this structure from lightweight, impact resistant, polymer composite. Composite trailers are also claimed to be less labour-intensive to produce than their steel counterparts and boast a potential longer working life. Test trailers have been extensively tested at Leyland’s Technical Centre in Leyland, Lancashire. The prototypes are all flatbed trailers and the research engineers say they can make even more impressive weight savings if box trailers were built. Further research is currently underway to progress the project. Gerry Boyce, Manager Director of EPL said: “We will continue to work with the technology and there are plans to produce more trailers in the future. We are now looking at using similar technologies to make the blades of wind turbines. The pressures placed on the environment are ever-growing. The trailer will work to reduce these pressures as well as offering a number of advantages to all hauliers.” More than 400 UK companies and universities have been participating in the industry-backed initiative, known as Foresight Vehicle, currently being led by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

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Basalt Fibre Technology Association Formed

8th June 2004 0 comments

The Basalt Fibre Technology Association has been formed to provide a forum for basalt fibre technology within the US. The aim of the Basalt Fibre Association is to provide an educational forum for basalt fibre executives to share ideas and experiences and to promote the basalt fibre industry. Each month the BFA bring high profile basalt fibre speakers to discuss the new opportunities and applications taking place in the industry. Fireproof applications are covered in a variety of fields from high-performance applications through to construction and clothing. Membership, effective from January 1, 2004, will cost $2,500 per year. Some of the benefits will include: Attendance at the informative technology related monthly meetings, your company’s name listed on the BFA website and participation in their interactive discussion board. Further details were not disclosed.

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Vyncolit Introduces Next Generation Mouldable Carbon Fibre Composites

11th June 2004 0 comments

Vyncolit are developing Vyntec, a phenolic-based carbon fibre reinforced composite that aims to sets new industry standards for material performance in metal replacement applications. Vyncolit assert that Vyntec will represent the next step in composite advancement, breaking old boundaries and establishing a new generation of materials that can outperform metals and specialty engineering thermoplastics. It is being developed mainly to provide an “easily mouldable, cost efficient, lightweight material for demanding applications in aggressive environments”. Through the use of lightweight carbon fibres, Vyntec exhibits low density, between 1.35-1.55 g/cm3, giving it a high stiffness/density ratio. Moreover, optimum impregnation of carbon fibres endows the material with high thermo-mechanical properties and chemical resistance, even at elevated temperatures, according to Vyncolit. Underpinning its performance profile are Vyntec’s tribological properties, which provide a high level of resistance to wear, together with a low coefficient of friction at high temperatures. Vyncolit said that this gives the material an excellent fit in applications where one or more interconnected parts are in motion, and particular value in applications where the lubrication of moving parts is either precluded or undesirable. This characteristic opens the way for Vyntec to fulfil the operating criteria of applications such as rotors and propellers in vacuum and fluid pumps, various types of bearings, as well as seals in brake and engine systems. According to Mr. Wim Lossy, Vyncoloit’s European Marketing Manager: “Vyntec is an exciting and important composite development that brings improved cost control to applications previously dominated by more expensive materials. Key is that unlike some alternative materials (such as PEI and PEEK) Vyntec can deliver cost savings without any reduction in performance. In fact, tests show that Vyntec performance can not only match that of high cost materials but in many instances is superior to them.” To ascertain performance benchmarks for Vyntec composite, a complete array of tests were carried out. To obtain comparative data, these tests were simultaneously conducted on carbon fibre reinforced grades of polyetheretherketone (PEEK), generally considered one of the highest performing engineering thermoplastic polymers. In each of the tests, which included exposure to high temperatures and aging in automotive fuel and oil and Block on Ring (BOR) tribological testing, mechanical and wear performances were measured and results showed Vyntec performance paralleled or significantly exceed that of PEEK thermoplastic. “At a time when the physical demands on materials and cost pressures are increasing in tandem, we believe that Vyntec can enable manufacturers to balance these often contradictory demands in a positive way and without any compromises,” says Wim Lossy. “Importantly, although Vyntec is ideally positioned as a replacement material, its performance profile also puts it in the front rank of choice for future applications, which will probably be more demanding in all respects.” Vyntec carbon fibre composite is currently being trialled in a number of applications and will be launched commercially at the K 2004 event in Dusseldorf (20-27 October).

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New High Flow Stanyl Grade from DSM Handles

11th June 2004 0 comments

DSM Engineering Plastics are to make available a new grade of high-flow Stanyl polyamide 46 (PA46) designed for elements of aircraft jet engines. Stanyl 46HF4130 is a 30-percent glass-fibre-reinforced compound that was initially developed for use in the intake portion of the Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engine, engineered for noise reduction and minimum environmental impact. The engine uses 50 panels with highly complex geometry to minimize noise through a complex section of the engine duct, benefiting from Stanyl’s high strength and mouldability. Moulded Stanyl thermoplastic components replace hand-built, glass-reinforced plastic (GRP) parts. Thin and large – up to 40 cm in length, yet only 0.8 mm thick in places – the components must be able to withstand the impact of bird strikes at temperatures ranging from 50 °C to 150 °C, as well as resist warpage. “”Extensive testing of candidate materials resulted in the selection of Stanyl for infill panels on the Trent 900 engine. Stanyl proved to have the right balance between lightness and strength,”” says Neil Williams, spokesperson of Rolls-Royce. “Using high-performance thermoplastics like Stanyl has been an optimum solution for both performance and cost in this important application.” Development of the design, material, and moulding was a joint effort among DSM Engineering Plastics, toolmaker and moulder Stückerjürgen, and the Austrian systems supplier FACC. The Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engine is used on the large Airbus A380 passenger aircraft. In addition to its use in jet engines, Stanyl 46HF4130 is also well-suited for connectors and other intricate parts featuring thin sections or complex geometries. DSM claim that Stanyl has unique property profiles that provide the best solution for many applications needing outstanding performance. Stanyl grades are based on polyamide 46, a highly crystalline material with a melting temperature of 295 ºC. Its toughness and high mechanical strength combined with exceptional flow gives the widest design freedom possible in engineering plastics.

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First Ship Set of A380 Super Jumbo Cockpit Floors Completed

11th June 2004 0 comments

The first ship set of a new type of high performance floor panel for the A380 cockpit and two electronic equipment bays was shipped today from M.C. Gill Europe in Bangor, Northern Ireland. The complete set of 67 parts is fabricated from Gillfab 5509 panels, which were specifically designed for this use. These high performance composite products are low smoke aircraft sandwich panels with facings made from phenolic resin reinforced with cross-plied unidirectional carbon and Kevlar honeycomb core. The project was undertaken with Airbus as a design-build project. The raw stock panels were developed and manufactured at the M.C. Gill Corporation headquarters facility in El Monte, California. They were then detailed at the M.C. Gill Europe plant which has extensive knowledge and expertise in detailing complex floor panels for a range of aircraft and customers. Activities included drilling, machining, folding and fabricating the panels into precise configurations to meet the engineering specifications. The equipment bay panels were treated with a non-slip surface. Equipping the parts included installing inserts and related hardware for drop-in installation in the aircraft.

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