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Composites Industry News

News for January 2006


US Recreational Boating Products to Reach $16.7 Billion In 2009

6th January 2006 0 comments

US demand for recreational boating products — including boats and separately sold propulsion systems and accessories — is projected to grow 4.8 percent annually through 2009 to $16.7 billion. Gains will be supported by an ongoing shift in the product mix toward larger, more sophisticated (and invariably more expensive) boats. The recreational boating market will also be helped by growth in the population of people 45 to 54 years of age, which contains some of the most likely purchasers of high-end boating equipment like cabin cruisers. Another factor that will support gains is the effort by manufacturers and industry organizations to increase interest in boating among women, minorities and other non-traditional boat buyers. These and other trends are presented in Recreational Boating, a new study from The Freedonia Group, Inc., a Cleveland-based industrial market research firm. Recreational boats, which include powerboats, personal watercraft, sailboats and other boats, will remain the largest segment of demand in 2009 with 60 percent of the total. Inboard cabin cruisers, most of which are high-priced luxury vessels, will see the most rapid growth and will maintain their status as the largest single category of boats in value terms, reaching $3.3 billion in 2009. These boats are expected to benefit from increasing consumer preference for larger, better-equipped marine craft. Outboard boats are also expected to register healthy gains, driven by the ongoing popularity of boat packages, which combine a boat, trailer and certain accessories into a single unit in order to streamline the buying process.

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Breakthrough Carbon Fibre Auto Manifold

6th January 2006 0 comments

What is claimed to be the first auto intake manifold ever moulded from continuous carbon fibre-reinforced thermoplastic opens up new possibilities for such composite mouldings in more intricate, complex shapes. The lead-off model in the line, made for the popular Honda H22 engine, is 75% lighter than the stock metal part it replaces and delivers 13 HP more than current aftermarket manifolds. It was made using the patented Diaphorm moulding process, which features low pressures and inexpensive tooling and machinery. “Weight savings and power gains in the Honda manifold show what can be expected of continuous fiber reinforced composites in more sophisticated shapes,” says Robert M. Miller, president of Diaphorm Technologies. “The piece represents a breakthrough in composites technology on several levels – design, application and processing.” The manifold’s weight saving stems from the composite’s lower density and higher strength-to-weight ratio compared to aluminium. The power gain stems from a larger internal volume than the stock part as well as an improved air flow design due to the intricate free flowing shape. Both improvements lead to delivery of more air/fuel mixture per stroke to the engine. The manifold line, along with other carbon fibre performance auto products in the pipeline, will be marketed under the FiberTuned brand name. Diaphorm produces the manifold from two 60-40 carbon fabric-nylon mouldings joined by adhesive, then bonds in the mounting plate and injection ports. Reinforcing material is biaxial stretch-broken carbon fibre. Both mouldings involve much more complex shapes than have been seen to date in continuous-fibre reinforced thermoplastic mouldings. They feature aspect ratios up to 8:1, compound 3-D angles without cutting the fibres or darting the fabric yet with corner radii down to 1/16 in. “Heretofore, you could find such intricate shapes only in one off custom hand lay-ups,” says Mr. Miller. “Here we’re doing it in an efficient, repeatable production environment suited to medium to high volumes.” “This manifold demonstrates how part designers can take advantage of advanced lightweight, durable materials, assured that the part can ultimately be cost effectively manufactured in volume,” says Mr. Miller. He added that the Diaphorm process is ideal for structural composites in small to medium lot sizes. Lower setup costs and relatively low-pressure processing are said to yield per-part costs that can be 20 to 70% lower than compression mouldings in comparable lot sizes.

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AeroBox Awarded $1.4 Million Unitpool Contract

6th January 2006 0 comments

AeroBox Composite Structures (ACS), will supply $1.4 million worth of composite cargo containers (ULDs – Unit Load Devices) to Unitpool AG, Geneva, Switzerland. Ray Gibbs, Group Managing Director, stated: “”Sales momentum for our AeroBox container, particularly in the Middle East, is growing quickly. The contract to supply Unitpool is another major milestone in growing our ULD business.”” Gibbs also noted that if Aerobox ULD performance meets expectations, additional orders could be expected. The Aeroplaz thermoplastic composite panel also enables AeroBox to develop custom made solutions for a wide range of applications in the aviation, automotive and other industries. Unitpool is a leader in the ULD (Unit Load Devices) control and pooling service sector, managing more than 17,500 ULD’s through 270-plus stations worldwide serving more than 30 airlines. The units are scheduled for delivery commencing in May 2006.

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GMT Composite Pedestrian Beam Wins Safety Award

6th January 2006 0 comments

At its 35th-annual Innovation Awards Gala, the Automotive Division of the SPE awarded a GMT pedestrian beam with first-place for the Most Innovative Use of Plastics in the group’s new Safety Category. Featured on vehicles from Volkswagen, the beam helps improve the safety of pedestrians, considered in the European Union to be the most threatened road users. The award was accepted by representatives from the OEM, Volkswagen, Tier One supplier and moulder, AKsys GmbH, and materials supplier, Quadrant Plastic Composites AG. Enhanced pedestrian protection is a high priority in the European Union (EU), where pedestrian deaths account for 20% of all road casualties and about 290,000 injuries per year. Children under the age of 12 incur the highest number of these deaths and serious injuries. To help reduce fatalities and serious injuries among the most vulnerable road users, the automotive industry in Europe has voluntarily adopted a set of proactive requirements to add pedestrian protection to the front of their vehicles. The pedestrian protection beam is conceived as one way of reducing lower leg and knee trauma during first contact with the vehicle’s front end. As would be expected, different OEMs and their suppliers are approaching this voluntary obligation by designing pedestrian protection beams in different ways in order to fit existing vehicle designs without adversely affecting vehicle balance and weight. In the case of Volkswagen and AKsys, a number of profile designs and material combinations were evaluated. The goal of each combination was to add stiffness by mounting an extra carrier below the existing bumper beam and reducing weight and costs of existing metal solutions. The team finally settled on GMTex textile-reinforced glass-mat thermoplastic (GMT) composite from Quadrant Plastic Composites. Volkswagen has already adopted the GMT composite pedestrian beam on many of its models, including the Bora (100,000 annual build), Golf GTI (46,000 annual build) and Golf Plus (220,000 annual build). The Mercedes S-Class from DaimlerChrysler (70,000 annual build) also uses a GMT pedestrian beam, combined with an engine shield. This is the first year that SPE has had a Safety category in its Innovation Awards competition.

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Composites Europe Meeting with Interest

13th January 2006 0 comments

The composites trade planned for September, Composites Europe is said to be gaining profile and interest. According to the organisers, Exel has committed itself to participating and is one of approximately 200 exhibitors expected at the trade fair with its accompanying forum, which is to take place in Essen from 20-22 September. “Bookings from exhibitors show a positive picture throughout. We already have registrations from companies from the US, Great Britain and Germany”, says Britta Wirtz, Director of Composites Europe. The trade fair is profiting from the strong global sales network of its organisers Reed Exhibitions Deutschland GmbH, Wirtz continued. Sales groups have taken up work in the US, the Benelux states, France, Great Britain, Spain, India and Italy. Many exhibitors will present their companies as part of a country pavilion. The first booking for such an arrangement has already come in from the Netherlands. The national associations within the European Composites Industry Association (EuCIA) have agreed to support the fair. As the co-organiser of the fair, EuCIA represents the interests of approximately 15,000 members of the European composites industry. “With Composites Europe, the association provides a forum for all its member companies to generate new business areas. It offers a unique possibility to publicise alternative technologies and materials“, says EuCIA President Volker Fritz. Reinforced Plastics Magazine will also present a preview of the fair in its September 2006 issue.

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Flow International Signs Contract with Airbus UK

13th January 2006 0 comments

Flow International, the manufacturer of ultrahigh-pressure waterjet technology, has been awarded a multi-million dollar contract to manufacture and install a multi-axis Composite Machining Centre (CMC), abrasive waterjet and routing machine tool system for the Airbus A350 program. Airbus UK’s Filton plant will use the new Flow waterjet system to machine composite wing structures for the A350 when the system is delivered in around 12 months. Within Airbus, the UK is responsible for design and manufacture of the wings and fuel systems – a role it will continue to play in the all-new Airbus A350 aircraft, of which approximately 60 percent will be comprised of advanced materials. Waterjets are a clean non-contact cutting and trimming technology that allows the use of flexible, programmable tooling, in lieu of hard tooling for each individual part. Flow and other partners of Airbus funded development of the CMC waterjet machining centre.

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Composite Integration Launches CIJECT Injection Equipment

13th January 2006 0 comments

The first in a range of RTM/VRTM injection equipment is to be launched next month by Composite Integration. The Ciject range is said by the makers to combine an unrivalled level of sophistication with ease of operation, superb design and uncompromising engineering quality. The end result of significant design and engineering development work, their new Ciject ONE has already been production tested in a wide variety of applications.

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New Composite Provides Strength at High Temperatures.

13th January 2006 0 comments

Norplex-Micarta have release a new composite material grade that is claimed to provide superior mechanical strength at continuous temperatures of up to 210°C, appropriate for uses in oil & gas, power generation and aerospace applications. The material, NP571HT is manufactured from multiple plies of woven fiberglass, saturated with epoxy resin and compressed under heat and pressure. In addition to superior strength, NP571HT is also claimed to provide excellent machinability, outstanding dimensional stability, and superior creep resistance.

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FSU Researches New Body Armour

13th January 2006 0 comments

Under a partnership with Armor Holdings, researchers from the Florida State University are developing and testing body armour for soldiers’ arms and legs that could reduce fatalities and loss of limbs. “”Most of the folks who die in military conflicts don’t die from getting shot,”” said James Thagard, a visiting assistant professor with the engineering school’s Florida Advanced Center for Composite Technologies (FAC2T). “”Seventy-five to 80 percent die from getting hit by shrapnel and excessive bleeding.”” Troops already receive protective helmets, bulletproof vests and shoulder armour to help them survive combat, but their arms and legs are exposed. The armour would be among the first products manufactured by the defence industry to protect soldiers’ extremities. “”The reality is you can’t protect everything,”” Thagard said. “”There are always areas of a soldier’s body that will be exposed, but this is a good place to start. Right now there are no requirements for extremity protection.”” FSU received $100,000 from Armor Holdings in November to cover two months of research. More grants from the company are expected to continue the work. As part of the partnership, FSU researchers are also experimenting with polymers toughened with carbon nanotubes to improve the strength of fabrics used to make bulletproof armour. Ballistics tests show the new material exceeds the new requirements for bulletproof vests while providing the necessary aesthetic and mechanical properties so the armour can be worn comfortably. Thagard has begun making prototype pieces of the armour, which will be given to Armor Holdings to manufacture on a broad scale for field-testing. Armor Holdings already manufactures vests and other plates that soldiers wear to protect their torso. “”There is more that can be done to protect beyond the core torso area,”” said Bob Mecredy, president of the Armor Holdings Aerospace and Defense Group. “”We are thrilled to be partnering with Florida State and believe our combined efforts will produce results that have a direct, even lifesaving, benefit for soldiers in the field.”” Thagard’s new armour will likely be field tested at military training facilities in the coming weeks and months to see if it can be comfortably worn and isn’t too bulky.

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Wood Composites Available in Colours

13th January 2006 0 comments

Composatron Composite Technology is now offering homebuilders, contractors and their customers a choice of six colours, as well as white, for their wood composites railing products The composite railings, part of Composatron’s Premier-brand product line, are available in cedar, sand, mahogany, light grey, slate grey and redwood colours. Composatron are using BASF’s Luran S ASA, a specialty plastic that provides long-term colour stability in a wide range of colours in railing, siding and fencing applications as a capstock over vinyl and vinyl-wood composites “Composite railings last longer and are easier to maintain than wood, but for years it was difficult to produce colour railings that would not fade. Given the strong reputation that our white railings have achieved in the marketplace, we knew that any extensions to our product line would have to meet our stringent standards for quality and durability. We needed a capstock that delivered outstanding weathering performance, without fading or chalking,” said Jim Pratt, head of research and development and product technology for Composatron. “Like all of the specialty plastics in our PlasticsPlus portfolio, Luran S ASA has unique features that enable our customers to bring innovative products to market. Luran S ASA is tough and resistant to chemicals, and has proven to be colorfast in a wide range of applications,” said Herman Savenije, Business Director of BASF’s Styrenic Copolymers in North America. Additional grades of Luran S ASA resin are currently being used in other building and construction applications such as door cladding, door lights, windows and exterior trim, and is being targeted for decking or any other profile applications that require low gloss.

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