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Composites Industry News

News for May 2007


LM Glasfiber to move headquarters to Kolding

13th May 2007 0 comments

LM Glasfiber is planning to move its headquarters from Lunderskov to Kolding, Denmark, to take place in stages mid 2008 and involving approximately 300 employees. The move is to expand available office space and create a modern and attractive work environment in our headquarters. Today, LM Glasfiber resides in it’s historical headquarters in Lunderskov where the company’s roots date back to the 1940’s. These facilities have been gradually expanded, but can no longer support the company’s continued growth. “”Following our strong international expansion our corporate functions and R&D staff in Denmark has grown by more than 20% in the last 12 months and we are currently working to attract more than 50 engineers and technicians to our Danish R&D Centre to support our strong innovation and technology drive. Denmark is the worldwide wind energy hub, and in order to be able to retain and attract the best talent we must also be able to offer a great work space in a good location. Our move to Kolding will give us a solid future base in Denmark for offering unique global career opportunities in an industry with strong growth prospects””, said Roland M. Sundén, CEO LM Glasfiber. LM Glasfiber’s lab and testing facilities will remain on the current location in Lunderskov.

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New Spray Gelcoat Provides Weathering Performance

13th May 2007 0 comments

The new Crystic Envirotec LS-30PA gelcoat introduced by Scott Bader has been designed for applications where the exterior finish durability of FRP moulded panels is critical. This is a high performance ISO-NPG gelcoat which is filled, pre-accelerated and formulated for spray application. According to Scott Bader, it has demonstrated excellent weathering characteristics during extended exposure tests in Florida, with gloss retention, colour fastness and resistance to yellowing all proving to be highly superior to competitive products. Tests were undertaken at the Atlas Weathering Services Group site in Florida (pictured) where the gelcoat was subject to extended weathering tests. The product is available in a wide range of colours and is formulated for ease of spraying and handling qualities. Scott Bader says that the viscosity profile ensures even coverage with a recommended film thickness of 0.5-0.6mm wet, built-up by the application of several thin even spray passes at a minimum spray pressure. Such sprayed finishes resist sagging and slumping and provide a low porosity finish which is achieved through minimal air entrapment and good air release. Finishes have a proven osmotic blistering resistance following extended testing, and a low styrene content helps to maintain minimum emission levels in the workplace environments. Spray applications and product curing are recommended at constant workshop temperatures between 18-25°C, with accelerated post curing also possible at elevated temperatures. The product is Lloyds approved and can be supplied in 25kg kegs and 225kg drums.

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Improving the Finish of Automotive SMC

13th May 2007 0 comments

Research stemming from recent EUREKA project E! 2373 SURFAS hopes to contribute to the increased use of Sheet Moulding Compound (SMC) composites in the automotive industry. “”These composites are starting to be used more widely as a replacement for steel in automotive body panel applications,”” says Véronique Michaud from main project participant the Polymer and Composite Technology Laboratory in Lausanne. “”They suffer, however, from major drawbacks in terms of reliability, of surface appearance and performance. Simply stated, it is extremely difficult to obtain, in a reliable manner, a surface quality that matches that of steel, especially after the painting operation.”” The goal of the SURFAS project was to investigate problems of surface quality in SMC composites. Partners identified the presence of surface craters or pits on composite parts. “”At that point, nobody knew why these craters appeared,”” explains Michaud, “”so a main goal was to understand what was happening, at all stages of the process, from fibre production and the deposition of the sizing layer to compounding of the composite pre-product, up to the final processing of the part. From there we hoped to make proposals on how to modify either the base material or the process to better control surface quality.”” The project delivered an array of important scientific results. Partners gained a better understanding of the role of fibre sizing and over-sizing on the fibre assembly surface and how parameters such as energy, permeability and rigidity, affect final product quality. They also investigated the exact mechanisms of the so-called ‘low profile effect’, where a blend of thermoplastic and thermoset resin is used to improve the final surface quality. Dr. Michel Arpin works for SURFAS industrial partner Vetrotex International and says the project was an excellent opportunity to investigate a technical issue from a more scientific perspective. “”The direct outcome for our company is two-fold,”” he says. “”First, we are now better armed to develop new products in this or similar domains of application, thanks to all the technical knowledge that we gained. This project has helped us to point out clearly how complex the materials-process-performance interaction is with this type of composite material.”” “”EUREKA gave us the opportunity to cooperate on a European level,”” added Michaud, “”without the heavy administrative constraints of a typical European project. All partners could deal with their local funding agencies, with whom they were already familiar and who reacted quickly and remained closely involved in project progress.””

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TPI Unveils All-Composite Armour Ready Truck Cab

13th May 2007 0 comments

TPI Composites joined Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island and representatives from Oshkosh Truck Corporation last week to unveil its new light-weight, all-composite truck cab. The cab was designed for the U.S. Army’s tactical wheeled vehicle fleet and is lighter in weight, highly durable, and strong enough to carry the heaviest of armour and mine blast protection. TPI’s lightweight, all-composite cab allows soldiers to carry more protective armour, ammunition, and equipment because it weighs hundreds of pounds less than cabs constructed with conventional materials. TPI says that its cab would allow an additional 200kg of weight compared to a an aluminium based design. The prototype cab is the result of a two-year R&D program with the U.S. Army Tardec and will be used for the HEMTT A-3 truck (Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck), manufactured by Oshkosh Truck. This cab program was a congressional initiative supported by Senators Jack Reed of Rhode Island and Joe Biden of Delaware. TPI collaborated on this project with Oshkosh Truck Corporation, maker of the HEMTT truck, and the University of Delaware’s Center for Composite Materials. “TPI is committed to applying its technology to provide solutions that will help the war-fighter,” said Steven C. Lockard, president and chief executive officer of TPI. “The lightweight, all- composite armour-ready cab is a great example of how advanced composite material and process technology can be applied to enhance performance in military vehicles and help protect our soldiers.” “The composite cab by TPI has provided a solution, that up until recently, was not available on a tactical wheeled vehicle platform,” said John Stoddart, executive vice-president, and president Oshkosh Truck defense. “This technology, along with advanced armour solutions will allow us as a vehicle manufacturer to increase the reliability, the performance, and the protection of the platforms on which it is installed. It is a leap forward in the technology of vehicle manufacturing.” The image shows Steve Nimmer, of Oshkosh Truck Corporation, (right) demonstrating the operation of the HEMTT A3 all-composite cab to Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed (D-RI). The prototype vehicle will be sent to Aberdeen this summer, where it will be road tested. Future prototypes are expected by the end of the year.

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World’s First Microwave Autoclave for Composite Structure Production

13th May 2007 0 comments

A few days ago, DLR’s Institute for Lightweight Composite Structures and Adaptronics in Braunschweig finished building the world’s first microwave autoclave. After its upcoming release, it will be used to develop new production technologies for carbon fibre materials (CFK), a booming sector of the aerospace industry. The microwave autoclave for composite structures is a joint development between DLR and the companies Scholz Maschinenbau GmbH, and Fricke and Mallah Microwave Technology GmbH. In its Braunchsweig facility, DLR has conducted years of groundbreaking research into applying microwave radiation to composite structure production. Unlike conventional equipment for hardening carbon fibre composites, whereby products are heated using a convection process and then subjected to high thermal inertia, microwave systems are able to harden products quickly and efficiently. Pressurised (autoclave) units are of particular interest to the aerospace industry. To combine the benefits of microwave and autoclave technologies, the Institute designed and built the innovation in collaboration with the microwave autoclave industry. The result was a highly flexible prototype which could be heated with circulated air, microwave fields or both, including the use of pressurisation if required. The innovative microwave autoclave promises to meet industry requirements for shorter process lead times, during which high-frequency microwave radiation will be used to heat synthetic materials. The autoclave features a total of 96 field sources, evenly distributed over the surface of the vessel. This arrangement allows the components to maintain an even temperature, essential for hardening complex composite structures. One of the major challenges of this project was to develop the concept of positioning the sources adjacent to a pressurized vessel, which has since been patented by DLR. The microwave autoclave is 1.6m diameter and 4m long and was presented to a wide audience at the JEC composites show, in Paris.

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Le Mans-Winning Company Assesses Future as Independent Constructor

20th May 2007 0 comments

Racing Technology Norfolk, which built and ran the 2003 Le Mans-winning Bentley EXP Speed 8, is now independent following its sale by the Audi Group and is already pursuing a number of client projects in motorsport and the niche vehicle sector. Building on its strengths in advanced composites and vehicle solutions, the company sees its future spanning the two sectors, with plans for expansion and extension in both. The company’s planned growth in the automotive sector is also complemented by the advanced composites volume production capability of its parent company, the Express Composites Group. In professional motorsport, the company is pursuing projects to design and build LMP1 & 2, ALMS and FIA GT entries with commercial and/or OEM partners. At grassroots level, the company is already discussing a number of projects including sports prototypes, Britsports, Formula Ford and one-make race/school cars. Its aspirations in niche vehicles include concept car development and high-performance or limited-edition variants of production cars. David Coates, Managing Director, Racing Technology Norfolk said: “”We thoroughly enjoyed being part of the Audi Group and have established some great working relationships with them and throughout the industry. Now we’re returning to our roots as an independent car constructor and as a specialist subcontractor in advanced composites. We’re determined to put our winning team back on the grid.”” Siegfried Krause, Audi Sport said: “”Independence will be good for Racing Technology Norfolk; we knew that being with Audi was restricting their ability to work with other OEM’s. We are certainly interested in future co-operation with rtn as development partners and subcontractors in carbon fibre; we granted them “”preferential supplier”” status during the sale negotiations. We wish them well.””

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MTI Awards Seed Grants in Composites

20th May 2007 0 comments

The Maine Technology Institute (MTI) board of directors approved 19 seed grants to technology companies across Maine, 4 of which were in composites. “Seed grants are often an entrepreneur’s first source of investment,” said Betsy Biemann, MTI president. “The early stage projects they fund can play a critical role in developing innovative products or services for the market.” MTI seed grants of up to $12,500 are offered on a competitive basis to support early activities for product development, commercialization or business planning and development. A company may only be awarded up to a total of $25,000 in seed grants for a specific project. Each seed grant requires a 1:1 match consisting of actual cash, salaries, staff time or equipment directly attributable to the proposed project. Seed grants are awarded six times each year, and the following grants were awarded this time in the field of composite materials technology Creative Thoughts Inc. in Biddeford will manufacture and test prototypes of a proprietary nursing bed which provides support for nursing babies and allows the infant to safely remain on the bed once they are asleep. Fernald and Johnson of Phippsburg will assess composite material properties to identify those best suited for production of composite string instruments. Grant Safety Products in Orrington will complete development and testing of its double shaft kayak paddle which eliminates the risk of wrist injury from overuse that is present with single shaft designs. The University of Maine in Orono will evaluate the feasibility of institutionally financing the commercialization of advanced/secure composite technologies that have great potential for secure facilities as required by the corrections industry.

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Despatch Industries Supplies Carbon Fibre Equipment to International Manufacturer

20th May 2007 0 comments

Despatch Industries has sold their newest generation of carbon fibre oxidation ovens to a global carbon fibre manufacturer. Despatch say that their oxidation oven incorporates enhanced uniform flow while utilizing proprietary centre-to-end flow technology. The oven also scales Despatch’s proven technology beyond previously available web widths. “”We are pleased that this global manufacturer recognizes the value-added productivity of Despatch’s uniform-flow oxidation technology for their high capacity carbon fibre lines,”” says Steve Oman, Director of International Sales. “”Uniform air flow can enable the production of a more consistent fiber, and increase line productivity as compared to conventional oxidation oven technology, perhaps by as much as 20 to 25 percent. Despatch is recognized for producing the highest uniform flow and the finest in oxidation oven technology available today.””

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EDO Selected by Sikorsky to Design Helicopter Structures

20th May 2007 0 comments

EDO has been selected by Sikorsky to design and fabricate composite airframe assemblies for the U.S. Marine Corps CH-53K helicopter program. The contract includes design and development, which is currently underway and will continue through 2012. This development contract is expected to lead to production of 156 CH-53K aircraft to replace the CH-53E SUPER STALLION helicopters currently in the Marine Corps’ inventory. The new CH-53K heavy-lift helicopter will double the payload of the current CH-53E Super Stallion, to 27,000 pounds over 110 nautical miles. Advanced composite structures that are far stronger and lighter than metal components are key to achieving this objective. EDO will design the aircraft’s composite tail-rotor pylon and sponsons. “Our ability to both engineer and fabricate advanced composite structures was a significant factor in winning this strategically important contract,” said James M. Smith, EDO’s chief executive officer. “We have been making substantial investments in the sophisticated equipment needed to produce these high-performance products.” The design and final assembly will be centred in North Amityville, N.Y. The composite fabrication will be conducted predominantly in Salt Lake City, Utah with select resin transfer moulded (RTM) parts fabricated in Walpole, Mass.

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Final Major Structures for Boeing 787 Dreamliner Delivered to Everett

20th May 2007 0 comments

The composite wings and final major assembly for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner were delivered to Everett last week.

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