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Composites Industry News

News for May 2006


Venture to Launch Composites Manufacturing Facility in India

15th May 2006 0 comments

Quickstep will be part of a landmark three-way composites manufacturing venture in India with New Delhi-based composite components group NTF and first-tier Japanese industrial materials supplier, Avanti. The agreement is to establish a manufacturing facility utilising Quickstep’s patented composites manufacturing technology and target opportunities in India’s rapidly growing mass transit and infrastructure sectors along with export to other market places. The agreement aims to have a commercial-scale Quickstep production facility operational in India by the end of 2006. It also lays the foundation for a longer-term cooperation between the three signatories in targeting and securing potentially significant manufacturing contracts for the supply of interior panels for rail coaches made of advanced composite materials. Quickstep’s CEO, Mr Nick Noble, said India represented an exciting strategic opportunity for Quickstep, given the country’s rapid economic growth and significant ongoing investment in infrastructure and mass transit systems. “This strong economic growth and rapid expansion in infrastructure is creating significant opportunities, particularly for companies with manufacturing capabilities and technological expertise in the supply of advanced materials to the rail, aerospace, aeronautical and other mass transit industries,” Mr Noble said. Quickstep has also now completed the previously announced acquisition of Western Australian-based specialty boat-builder, Flatout Boats.

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US Dept. of Energy Honours Knight & Carver

15th May 2006 0 comments

Knight & Carver’s Wind Blade Division has been honoured by the US Department of Energy for its $2.8 million shared cost research and development project that is planned lead to production of an innovative wind blade. The company received the 2005 “Outstanding Research and Development Partnership Award” for “Outstanding Research and Development Partnership to Advance Wind Energy Technology” in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy, the University of California at Davis and Sandia National Laboratory in Albuquerque, NM. The Knight & Carver Adaptive Sweep Twist Blade project was launched one and one half years ago and is now in the final phases of research and development. When completed, Knight & Carver say that it will produce a longer-than-conventional blade that automatically twists during high wind to reduce loads on the machine thus producing a maximized amount of wind energy. Therefore, longer blades than normal can be safely used in regions regarded as lower-wind production areas. Sized at 27.2 meters x 2.4 meters, the composite Adaptive Sweep Twist Blade is designed both for maximum efficiency at lower-speed wind conditions and also to automatically adjust to higher wind gusts when necessary. Production is expected to begin next year. “We are extremely honoured to receive this award,” said Gary Kanaby, Knight & Carver Wind Blade Division Manager, “because there are so many outstanding R&D teams in the wind sector these days. With so much progress being made so quickly in this industry, this truly is an exciting time for our company and our employees.”

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Aerobox Attracts US$3m Financing

15th May 2006 0 comments

Aerobox have entered into a US$3 million three year secured revolving loan agreement with Laurus Master Fund, a Cayman Islands company that provides financing to small cap growth companies. The AeroBox air cargo container is the result of a decade of research and development into composite structure panels. The funds will assist in funding working capital needs, and have been made available against assets. Ray Gibbs, Group Managing Director commented: “I am delighted that we have been able to demonstrate the financial viability of our business to Laurus. The growth being experienced initially in the ULD sector requires careful managing and finance. The revolving debt facility can be used to enable us to satisfy the working capital needs for both our existing and expected order book in both the ULD and core and panel operations for the foreseable future.” The AeroBox has now flown over 90,000 flights in commercial airlines around the globe, with a little more than 100 reported repairs.

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Three New Core College Dates from Diab

15th May 2006 0 comments

Diab has announced the next three dates for its popular Core College event. The first of the three will take place on Thursday, May 25th at the Composites Training Center of Cerritos College, Norwalk, California. The second will be held on Thursday, June 15th. at Diab Inc.’s headquarters in DeSoto, Texas. The third will be on Tuesday, September 12th. at the Dartmouth, Nova Scotia premises of OP Fiberglass. Core College allows those involved in composite/GRP construction to get an update on the latest developments. The event covers sandwich composite theory, composite processing techniques and an overview of new material development. In the case of the DeSoto event (which has been extended to one and half days) a tour of Diab’s core manufacturing facility is also included. Although primarily aimed at technical personnel, Core College may also prove very useful to sales and marketing people who would like a better insight into the benefits that sandwich composites can provide to a finished product. More information is available from Carla Meadows at Diab in DeSoto – (972) 228-7694

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Boeing to Deliver first 787-9 to Air New Zealand

15th May 2006 0 comments

Boeing will deliver the first 787-9 Dreamliner to Air New Zealand in December 2010, after ANZ converted its original order for four 787-8 aircraft to four 787-9 aircraft. “”Being the first airline to introduce the 787-9 aircraft will enable Air New Zealand to provide a superior, first-to-market experience for our customers and is a most desirable position for us to be in given the unprecedented sales success of the Boeing 787 model,”” said Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Rob Fyfe. The 787-9 is a slightly bigger version of the 787-8 and has a list price of $183 million. Both are composite-bodied aircraft with higher humidity, wider seats and aisles, and larger windows.

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Boeing and the University of Sheffield Create New Composites Centre

15th May 2006 0 comments

The University of Sheffield and Boeing have won a £4.5 million tender from Yorkshire Forward to open The University of Sheffield Composites and Advanced Materials and Technology Centre (CAMTeC) with Boeing. The Boeing led centre will be located on the Advanced Manufacturing Park in Rotherham, and will focus on researching, designing, manufacturing and technology transfer of civil and aerospace composite components. The centre will build on the collaborative relationship for research that exists between the University of Sheffield and Boeing, and the demand for composite materials which is expected to exceed supplies by 2008. The research CAMTeC undertakes in this expanding field will allow engineers to create knowledge for high-quality educational opportunities, manufacturing solutions for partner companies, and supply chain entry for SMEs. “By winning CAMTeC the University of Sheffield with Boeing is creating a world-class community in the region where composite design manufacture and study interact to put best practice into a wide industry base,” says Research Director for the AMRC Professor Keith Ridgway. “CAMTeC will help the AMRC continue its mission with Yorkshire Forward, Objective 1, the University of Sheffield and Boeing to create wealth, long lasting jobs and prestige for the region, accomplished by attracting inward investment.” Geof Tomlinson, Pro Vice-Chancellor for research at the University of Sheffield said: “I’m delighted that the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre is going to expand into the dynamic, growing area of composite materials research with the establishment of CAMTeC. Our existing partnership with Boeing at the AMRC is a great example of the way universities can work with world-class organisations to bridge the gap between cutting edge research and industrial application, and we hope to continue to build on these strengths in Sheffield with the development of CAMTeC.” CAMTeC’s 15,000 Sq foot building will house state-of-the art equipment available for creating composite material solutions for companies such as Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Messier-Dowty, and Smiths Aerospace. It will perform an integral role within the National Composites Network (NCN) by application, repair and disposal of composite and advanced materials. Regionally, CAMTeC will be giving due consideration to Yorkshire’s Regional Economic Strategy of concentrating upon the Advanced Engineering and Materials initiative. Mary Goetz, Director of Industrial Participation for Boeing UK said: “CAMTeC will be a great opportunity for UK companies and UK technology development. Everyone will see benefits – Boeing and our UK partners, our customers and the public. In commercial airplanes, composite fuselages reduce the weight by almost 20 percent – saving energy, and cutting costs for the airlines. In our defence sector, composite Apache rotor blades are stronger and last longer than existing blades – reducing overall operating costs. AMRC technology assistance has already grown regional revenues by ₤55M in the last two years, we expect CAMTeC to be just as valuable.”

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Small Parts with Big Potential

15th May 2006 0 comments

German based RP service bureau VG Kunststofftechnik is developing new direct manufactured parts from nano-reinforced composite stereolithography materials. The company uses NanoForm 15120, a composite stereolithography material which incorporates non-crystalline nano-particle technology for enhanced performance properties, including high stiffness and heat resistance. Heat deflection temperatures of more than 500°F (265°C) have been reported. VG began direct manufacturing with NanoForm as soon as it was commercialized, running the material on their 3D Systems Viper Si2. Their initial focus was on small detailed parts for the electronics, aerospace and medical industries as well as for water-technology specialists such as Hansa and Grohe. Today, having since proven out both the resin’s material properties and ‘break-even’ economics, VG regularly produces up to 200 directly manufactured NanoForm parts for pre-series and limited series production. “NanoForm offers a unique set of properties which are critical for direct manufacturing,” says VG founder and Managing Director Dr. Volker Griessbach. “Its accuracy, zero hydroscopicity and exceptional surface quality—with practically no “”stair stepping”” effects—deliver the high level of precision and detail which the electronics industry in particular requires, as well as guarantees the dimensional stability of the parts. In addition, NanoForm has a completely water-resistant surface and can withstand temperatures as high as 250°C. That adds up to a number of critical advantages for our clients’ extensive pre-series testing.” In addition to allowing VG to produce parts with a high degree of geometric complexity and accuracy (typical wall dimensions and drill holes as low as 0.2mm), direct manufacturing with NanoForm has also proven successful in avoiding some of the delays and costs related to the tooling process. In one winter-summer automotive test project for Siemens, VG Kunststofftechik was able to successfully produce 1000 electro-magnetic coils from NanoForm in just one week, enabling Siemens to save approximately €40,000 in tooling costs and allowing their test program to move forward four months ahead of schedule. “I believe direct manufacturing will go down in history as the third industrial revolution,” says Griessbach. “It is an increasingly proven method for industry to shorten development cycles and meet the growing demand for low-run, custom tailored parts. For VG, combining the right technologies with effective new materials like NanoForm is helping us become a pioneer in direct manufacturing—just as we set out to be with rapid prototyping more than fifteen years ago.” The image shows prototypes of water filters for Grohe.

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Nanotube Sandwiches Could Lead to Better Composite Materials

15th May 2006 0 comments

By stacking layers of ceramic cloth with interlocking nanotubes in between, a team of researchers has created new composites with significantly improved properties compared to traditional materials. The “nanotube sandwiches,” which are described in the May 7 online edition of the journal Nature Materials, could find use in a wide array of structural applications. “Nanotubes are a very versatile material with absolutely fascinating physical properties, all the way from ballistic conduction to really interesting mechanical behaviour,” says Pulickel Ajayan, the Henry Burlage Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Rensselaer and a lead author of the paper, along with colleagues at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Some fundamental issues, however, have kept researchers from realizing the full potential of nanotubes, particularly when combining them with other materials to make composites. The interface between the materials is not as strong as one might expect, Ajayan notes, because it is difficult to disperse nanotubes and to align them in an orderly way. Ajayan and his colleagues have pioneered a process to help overcome these difficulties, and they are putting it to use in a wide variety of applications. For the current project, the researchers are applying the process to a new area: reinforced composite fabrics made from woven ceramic fibres. These materials have been used for decades in structural applications, but they tend to perform poorly in terms of “through-thickness,” or the ability of a material to respond to forces applied perpendicular to the fabric-stacking direction, according to Ajayan.

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NetComposites Recognised for Innovations in Self-Reinforced Plastics: Video Interview

15th May 2006 0 comments

NetComposites was one of just six small businesses recognised at the recent Shell Springboard national environmental business awards in London, for its work in developing new products from self-reinforced plastics.

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Composites Expansion for Abu-Dhabi Ship Building

21st May 2006 0 comments

ADSB, already well established in constructing steel and aluminium ships, has opened a new composites workshop to enable it to compete in the region’s expanding military and commercial market. Work has started on the first composite vessel and discussions are currently at an advanced stage for building 12 vessels for the UAE Coast Guard. The new Dh30 million (US$8.2 million) facility at ADSB’s Mussafah (Abu Dhabi) base covers an area of 4,650 square metres and is capable of building vessels up to 60 metres in length. The ships will be built in environmentally controlled workshop, pressurized to keep out dust and sand. ADSB Chief Executive Officer William Saltzer said: ‘This is the most advanced facility of its type in the Middle East and among the most sophisticated in the world. Since the establishment of the company in 1996 we have built up a reputation for constructing steel and aluminium vessels to the highest standards. The composite facility will enable us to offer a full range of vessels to the region’s security forces, as well as to the commercial market. Recent years have seen the introduction of new composite materials and we have the facilities and the expertise to build top quality vessels using the most advanced technology.’ ADSB Composites has been set up with the UK’s VT Halmatic as a preferred partner. Halmatic, which has been established more than 50 years, is highly experienced in the construction of composite boats. ADSB Composites’ first project will be a Halmatic-designed 16 metre fast workboat. With a ramped bow for beach landing and an open deck, it will be capable of transporting two Hummer size military vehicles at a speed of over 30 knots. Mr Saltzer said that substantial orders are expected to be confirmed shortly. ‘We are actively marketing the facility to navies, coast guards and police services throughout the GCC countries,’ he said. ‘We are at an advanced stage of negotiation with the UAE Coast Guard for a programme of 12 34-metre GRP fast patrol boats and are hopeful that an order will be placed soon.’ Work has already begun on the second phase of the new facility, an outfitting shop that will be used to fit interiors and components to client specifications. The image shows Shaikh Hamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan (second right), who opened the new composite workshop. He is seen viewing a model of the Baynunah corvettes which are under construction at Abu Dhabi Ship Building with (from left), CEO William Saltzer, Vice Chairman Suhail Shaheen Al Marar and (right) ADSB Chairman Abdulla Nasser Al Mansouri.

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