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Composites Industry News

News for January 2006


Twintex Tub for the Connaught Type-D GT Syracuse

13th January 2006 0 comments

The first model available in Connaught’s Type-D range, the GT Syracuse, uses a glass/polypropylene composite tub to contribute to the stiffness of the main chassis structure. The brainchild of two ex-Jaguar consultant engineers, Tim Bishop and Tony Martindale, the Connaught Type-D has to date received almost half a million pounds worth of funding from the Energy Saving Trust and has no less than 17 patents pending on its ground-breaking technology. Connaught is a virtual car company. It designs the car and manages the project, but out-sources the manufacturing to Derby-based partners EPM Technology, thereby ensuring relatively low start-up investment costs. The ultra-lightweight construction helps to realise the ambitious fuel efficiency targets while the mid-front north-south mounted engine and rear-wheel drive configuration guarantees maximum driving pleasure without compromising rear space.. “”Our aim has been to build a car for the future while keeping the design and technology relatively simple,”” explains Tim Bishop, vehicle engineering director, “”and to establish close links with our technology partners EPM Technology for the assembly and Coventry University on the styling side. We have met all our own development targets and are confident to gain five-star EuroNCAP crash test results and maximum score for pedestrian safety.”” A target weight of just 750kg is achieved mainly from laser-cut, flat steel and tubular sections, many of them with numerous large holes to save weight. The completed structure has a bonded-on glass/polypropylene Twintex inner tub which contributes to the chassis stiffness, and the material also gives the advantages of recyclability, no resin smell, and good sound absorption.

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New Composite Technologies for Vehicles and Construction

13th January 2006 0 comments

Two new UK projects plan to produce vehicle and construction components from the next generation of two families of materials – self-reinforced plastics and bio-derived composites. Self-Reinforced Plastics The first of the 2 projects aims to develop self-reinforced plastics (SRPs) for high-performance and net-shape moulding. SRPs consist of a polymer matrix reinforced by fibres of the same polymer and offer low weight, excellent recyclability, safe handling and high impact resistance – characteristics that make SRPs extremely attractive to a range of industries including automotive and construction, with many applications already in place. The objective of the project is to develop SRPs further, allowing the net-shape moulding of existing PP self-reinforced plastics and the use of higher-performing polymers, such as PET, for more structural applications. Bio-derived Composites The second project aims to develop continuously reinforced natural fibre thermoplastic composite parts for both vehicle and construction applications, bringing the combined benefits of structural performance and sustainability to both these application sectors. The project will look at continuous woven naturally-derived fibres, such as hemp and flax, as well as thermoplastic resin systems from plant sources. The use of thermoplastics will enable issues such as recyclability, process speed and cost to be effectively addressed, opening up a range of applications. These new projects are being planned by NetComposites as collaborative developments, part-funded by the UK Department of Trade and Industry. Currently we have the opportunity to introduce and involve key OEM, Tier 1 and industrial UK companies to each of these projects, to help develop the technology to specifically suit their own products and requirements. If you are a UK based company (or have a UK presence) and are interested in finding more out about how you can be involved in these projects, please contact Gordon Bishop by email at info@netcomposites.com.

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Around the World in 65 Days

13th January 2006 0 comments

The Earthrace project has been established to break the outright world record for circumnavigating the globe in a powerboat, and uses DIAB cores in its composite hull structure. A key element of the record-breaking strategy is to run the boat continuously at high speed (up to 45 knots) in rough as well as flat sea conditions. To achieve this, wave piercing technology has been employed together with sponsons to provide additional stability. As can been by the 3D CAD model above, the Earthrace vessel has a very fine bow with minimal reserve buoyancy in the forward portions of the hull to significantly reduce vertical motions. When a wave is encountered, the hull pierces through the water rather than riding over the top. Although this can look very dramatic to the onlooker as the vessel submarines through the wave, the ride is much smoother than more traditional deep-V designs, minimizing the stress on the vessel as well as the crew. The 24 meter (78 ft.) long boat is in the final stages of construction at the Auckland, New Zealand yard of Calibre Boatbuilders. She was built using a ‘moldless’ strip plank method where the DIAB core is applied in the form of planks to temporary frames to create the hull shape. The strip plank technique is a very cost-effective and fast method of producing a one-off boat as it dispenses with the need for a mold. In principle, it involves setting up a series of transverse frames and/or bulkheads. Core ‘planks’ are then attached to the frames thereby creating the hull shape. Following fairing, the outer skin reinforcements are laminated into place. The hull is then rotat¬ed 180°, any temporary frames are removed and the inner skin reinforcements are applied. In the case of the Earthrace a somewhat different methodology was used as the hull was produced as two half moldings. Basically a ‘female mold’ approach was taken. Again frames were set up and the DIAB core ‘planks’ were applied. Then the inner skin carbon reinforcements were laminated into place. The half hulls were then joined together longitudinally, the boat was rotated and the outer skin laminates were applied.

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US National Composite Center to Advance New Nanotechnology

13th January 2006 0 comments

The National Composite Center (NCC) is expected to receive $1.5 million for production, acceleration and commercialization of a new fabrication process for carbon nanofibres and nanotube membranes. NCC will lead a team that includes the Materials and Manufacturing Directorate at the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the Wright Materials Research Company based in Beavercreek. In addition to making the technology more cost effective for industry, the application of nanotube membranes (buckypapers) to composites will improve the performance and strength of military vehicles and aerospace structural materials, as well as reduce fuel and structural maintenance costs. The nanofibers and nanotubes also have application for lightening strike protection and directional thermal and electrical conducting applications in materials and devices.

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SAMPE UK Technical Conference Programme Takes Shape

13th January 2006 0 comments

The sixth annual SAMPE UK & Ireland Technical Conference will take place at Cranfield University on 23 February 2006. The theme of the Conference is Advanced Lightweight Structures and Conference organiser Andrew Mills is delighted with the level of interest generated so far. “The high performance car, commercial aircraft and wind energy sectors have all experienced rapid innovation over the past year, through the use of new composite materials and processing techniques,” comments Mills. “SAMPE UK has organised this one- day seminar to disseminate and discuss progress in these areas, which are important both in terms of the technological advances and the commercial potential they represent. The event is supported by Nottingham University Composites Club, Cranfield University – Centre for Lightweight Composites and the National Composites Network. The conference comprises an exciting programme of presentations focused on novel materials and processing solutions for performance cars, Airbus and wind turbines,” Mills continues. “There are three specialist sessions each with invited speakers, all experts in their fields, from companies and organisations making major contributions to the technical progression and commercial exploitation of composites in these sectors. Don’t miss it!” The provisional programme is: • Affordable CFC Structures for the Mercedes McLaren SLR, Rob Backhouse, McLaren Automotive • Metal with the Dark Side, Anthony Dodworth, Bentley Motors Ltd • CFC Space Frame for the Caterham 7, Cranfield University CLC • Advances in High Speed CF Pre-forming for Volume Car Bodies, Nick Warrior, Nottingham University • Airbus A350 Composites Technology, Turlough McMahon, Airbus UK • Manufacture of a Composite Truss Structure, Jago Pridie, Airbus UK • VESTAS Wind Turbine Blade Technology, John Rimmer, VESTAS UK SAMPE UK & Ireland Chapter Chairman Andrew Long is enthusiastic about the exciting event in prospect: “In collaboration with NUCC we are very good at organising events like this which are informative, relevant and very good value. We are being supported by the NCN and we are also very fortunate to have obtained sponsorship from Saint Gobain to cover some of the organisational costs involved. I am confident that it will have wide appeal and urge everyone to register early to make sure of attending.”

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New Cervical Plate Implant from PEEK Composite

20th January 2006 0 comments

Signus Medizintechnik and Icotec have developed the first cervical plate on the market that is made of PEEK. The cervical plate is used for the stabilisation of the cervical spine and is made of Invibio’s Endolign, a biocompatible composite material made of endless fibre reinforced PEEK. The benefits of this plate and screws are said to be: ▪ Excellent fatigue resistance ▪ Low profile plate design with high mechanical strength ▪ Smooth hydrophobic surface to prevent soft tissue attachment ▪ Artefact free imaging procedures (CT and MRI) for accurate and reliable post-operative monitoring ▪ Angle stable screw positioning ▪ A plate design that supports simple surgical technique

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DSM Dyneema Files Patent Lawsuit against Chinese Company

20th January 2006 0 comments

DSM Dyneema, the inventor and manufacturer of Dyneema, has filed a patent-infringement lawsuit against Hangzhou Pivot International Co. Ltd., of Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China. Prior to the filing, DSM Dyneema obtained authorization to seize merchandise, including fibre, rope and finished articles, exhibited by Hangzhou Pivot at the Milipol 2005 exhibition on state security in Paris. The lawsuit asks the court to establish and confirm its findings that this merchandise infringes on DSM Dyneema patents, and to forbid the sale or offering of these polyethylene-based, high-performance fibres by Hangzhou Pivot. DSM Dyneema is also seeking recall of the infringing products sold, as well as damages and other corrective measures. According to Christophe Dardel, president of DSM Dyneema, “We have taken this action to protect our firm from those who unlawfully try to copy our unique fibre technology, as well as to secure a level playing field for companies developing and manufacturing applications on the basis of polyethylene-based high performance fibers. It is our policy to actively protect our intellectual property rights.” DSM Dyneema protects its technology by applying for patent protection in different countries and regions. It has filed several patents in the field of high-performance polyethylene (HPPE) fibres and their applications. The company monitors potential infringements on an ongoing basis, and takes action against manufacturers, sellers and users of infringing products – whether fibres or end products. In 2004 DSM Dyneema obtained a verdict from the District Court of The Hague in the Netherlands, who confirmed the infringing nature of high-performance fibres offered by another Chinese company, CEN International Trading Company, and ordered the latter to stop further sales of such infringing material. DSM Dyneema is confident the Court of Paris will rule in favour of DSM.

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New Composite Catamaran Thames Patrol Boats

20th January 2006 0 comments

A radical new design of patrol boats has been ordered from Ecocats by the Port of London Authority (PLA) for use on the Thames. The new craft will enable the PLA to deliver further improvements in its work to maintain high safety standards in the upper part of the tidal Thames. PLA launches patrol the river daily and assist with river functions, rowing and sailing regattas, etc., as well as providing navigational control and support to emergencies. The PLA has now signed a contract with Ecocats Limited to build two new patrol launches. The novel design of the Ecocat hull will allow patrolling and, when necessary, high speed response to be made with a substantial reduction in wash wave height and energy, compared to existing patrol launches. This helps the PLA to serve river users better in the upper tidal Thames and also conserves the environment of the river. The PLA commissioned a special research project on vessel wash by Southampton University prior to placing the order. The new craft will enable closer communication with rowers, canoeists and others in small craft. The Ecocats design helps achieve this with an island wheelhouse/open deck layout; bulwark doors on both sides; and a stern access platform. This layout will also help the management of regatta safety and a variety of other river duties. The new vessels will also assist the PLA in its work following the navigational risk assessment in the upper tidal Thames, undertaken by the Salvage Association.

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Giant Composite Sun Blind on Show in Cologne

20th January 2006 0 comments

What is probably the world’s biggest sun blind, a 4m high and 60m long GRP construction, will be on show at the Cologne International Furniture Fair. The sun blind, which consists of hanging vertical slats 25 cm wide, is made of glass reinforced plastic, and is the product of a unique development partnership between Fiberline Composites, a Danish manufacturer of high-tech composites, and textile designer Astrid Krogh. Astrid Krogh was invited by the Cologne Fair to submit ideas for the design project ‘Ideal House 2006’ together with three other top international design names: Dieter Rams, Joris Laarman and Stefan Diez. The giant sun blind is ornamented with patterns actually printed in the composite, and it is used by Astrid Krogh as the framework for her ‘house of the future’. “”Unlike most other types of architectural divisions used to separate ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ in buildings, using composite makes it possible to change the scene and at the same time continuously create new patterns”, says Astrid Krogh. ”The building can be ‘opened’ and ‘closed’ simply by turning the slats. The pattern on the slats will simultaneously be highlighted in a variety of ways, depending on how the light strikes them. The effect in the evening is also beautiful,”” continues Astrid Krogh. Astrid Krogh has experimented with new materials for a number of years in her design solutions for both sun protection and decoration. While working on the sun blind for the Cologne fair, it became a particular challenge to reinterpret the classic curtain through use of composite as the ‘functional ornamentation’. She has used well-known textile techniques, but her collaboration with the manufacturer Fiberline has resulted in entirely new modes of expressions for products made of composite. ”With this new technique it is possible to integrate printed textile actually into the slats. This enables builder and architect to ornament their buildings with art if they want to achieve a different effect from that provided by glass,” said Finn Jernø at Fiberline Composites, who is finding considerable interest in the use of Fiberline’s products for various types of sun protection. “”Many buildings incorporate large expanses of glass, and the strength of composite makes it suitable for making slats in long lengths.””

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Comtek Develops New Composite Technology

20th January 2006 0 comments

Comtek Advanced Structures has introduced its new resin infusion technology, called SmartFlow, which it says it is in the process of incorporating into part designs for new aircraft programs. “”These developments mark the culmination of a multi-million dollar research and development effort,”” according to Alistair Davie, Comtek’s Chief Technology Officer. “”Our R&D team headquartered in Burlington, Ontario, Canada has worked closely with noted researchers at Canadian universities including McGill, UBC, Waterloo and McMaster, and with the Canadian National Research Council, to develop leading-edge technology that gives Comtek a distinct competitive advantage in the manufacture and repair of aircraft structural and interior parts made from advanced composite materials. Comtek’s new technology bypasses conventional composite manufacturing infrastructure to produce high quality, highly loaded structural parts in less time using less energy. The reduction in capital and operating costs results in major savings for our customers and a significant competitive advantage for Comtek in our target markets.”” Comtek has filed core patent protection directed to this technology, and says that it will extend this protection internationally in the coming months as part of its global intellectual property strategy. The company specializes in advanced composites applications for the international aerospace and defence market, with facilities in Burlington, Ontario, Canada and Phoenix, Arizona, USA.

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