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Composites Industry News

News for April 2008


Industry and Academia Meet at ACMA's "Breaking New Ground" Conference

14th April 2008 0 comments

More than 260 composites industry leaders, 50 students and 20 faculty members participated in a highly successful ACMA conference at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, March 4 – 6, 2008. The conference, “”Breaking New Ground: Structural Composites Applications in Defense, Infrastructure, Transportation, Corrosion Prevention and Power Industry,”” provided a forum for the composites industry and academia to come together. “”The high level of interest shown by both industry and academic participants is good news for the composites industry,”” says ACMA President John Tickle. “”The continuing partnership between our industry and the academic world promises steady growth and a bright future.”” Tickle, who attended the conference, opened one of the morning sessions by addressing the attendees, thanking all involved and encouraging participation and membership in ACMA. On the last day of the conference, ACMA recognized all poster session participants and presented awards to the top three student competitors. The awards were sponsored by Strongwell Corporation, Beetle Plastics, Technical Fibre Products, and Reichhold. This was the second time ACMA had partnered with University of Alabama at Birmingham to organize a conference.

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High Modulus Expands into Asia

14th April 2008 0 comments

High Modulus has opened its operation in Qingdao, China, well-placed to serve the company’s growing number of Asian customers. Last month the company opened a Representative Office, which will focus on the sales and market development of customers in the region. High Modulus has also entered into a Joint Venture agreement with Sino Composites, an established materials distributor in China. This new collaboration enables the B3 SmartPac, an engineered composite construction solution for production boatbuilders, to be offered to customers in Asia more cost-effectively and more efficiently. High Modulus has been supplying customers in Asia for many years, most notably Cheoy Lee Shipyards in Hong Kong, with whom it has a twenty-plus year relationship. However, the past four years have seen a more proactive approach to the market growth, culminating in these recent developments. “We have been building our presence and relationships in the Asian market over the last few years,” says High Modulus CEO, Richard Downs-Honey, “And we are excited to have taken these next steps which will allow us to realise the potential of the growing domestic boatbuilding market in China, Malaysia, Thailand and other locations in Asia. There is much chat and hype about the growth economy in China, but to really leverage the opportunity you have to be proactive and do something – which is what we have done and will continue to do. Being able to provide the B3 SmartPac from a local base will mean that customers benefit from improved delivery times and cost efficiencies.” The B3 SmartPac solution combines optimised and practical laminate specifications with pre-cut reinforcement and core materials. The laminate specification, development work and prototyping for each new project will continue to take place at High Modulus’s head office in Auckland, New Zealand. This ensures that each Asian project benefits from the wealth of composites knowledge and experience within the High Modulus engineering team, which now boasts over 50 staff members. The engineering design is converted into cut-files (or templates) and sent to Sino Composites. They in turn use these cut-files to pre-cut and label each individual material part before packaging them in the order to be used and delivering them to the customer with a comprehensive construction manual. This complete package enables the builder to produce repeatable high-quality boats cost-effectively. By applying its marine expertise to an aviation project, High Modulus has also incorporated ideas from the aviation sector into its own design methodology. Entrepreneur Lapo Ancillotti approached High Modulus in 2004 and asked whether the company could help him with his latest project. Whilst Ancillotti was known for his involvement with the management of yachting projects, this new venture aimed to develop a high-performance experimental kit plane suitable for amateurs to build as simply as possible. The High Modulus team’s aim was to design a monocoque structure, but with detachable wings so the whole kit is capable of fitting in a 20ft container. The fuselage, wings and tail were designed to enter the kit completed, so amateur builders have confidence in the critical structures, and can focus on bolting the parts together. This monocoque approach is just one of the ways in which the Furio plane differentiates itself from traditional aviation structures, which are typically more complex assemblies. High Modulus teamed with ANZES (Air New Zealand Engineering Services), with whom they are co-operating separately on a multi-million dollar, multi-year “Research for Industry” project funded by FRST, and through this gained an insight into the differences between aerospace and marine design methodology. Of particular interest was the approach to statistical analysis of mechanical tests, and the similarities between the load bearing on wings and that on the centerboards of canting keel boats. As a result of this collaboration, High Modulus now has the capability to perform its materials and laminate tests to US Military Standards, which are recognized around the world; and a more in-depth understanding of the shock load and pressure distribution in dynamic loading of daggerboards on canting keel yachts. The various Furio components of the fuselage, wings, tailplane and control surfaces were each approached individually to establish the best manufacturing method to suit the geometry and laminate requirements. The majority of the components were infused carbon fibre with PVC foam cores. The first plane was publicly unveiled in Auckland in early February, with kits 2 and 3 already in build.

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UK Training Courses Approved

14th April 2008 0 comments

Recent projects have led to the UK’s lead private training providers forming a working partnership as well as achieving approval of their courses by ‘Composites UK’, the UK’s composites trade association.

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2008 JEC Composites Show has a Record Turnout

14th April 2008 0 comments

The recent JEC Composites Show was a great success, with a record turnout and greatly expanded exhibit area. Its 43,500 m² (462,848 sq ft) included seven halls, a new outdoor demonstration area, and a specially-built auditorium/conference-room structure. The show has developed steadily for the past ten years, and it drew to a close this year registering an excellent participation rate for its programmes. The show hosted 1,053 exhibitor companies, with 74% from abroad and more than 100 new exhibitors. The number of visitors climbed to more than 27,000 professionals from 96 different countries, with a 13% rise for the most heavily frequented day compared to last year. One out of two visitors was a buyer or end-user seeking new solutions for aeronautical, marine, automotive, construction, infrastructure, energy, or sports & leisure applications.

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FiberSIM 5.4 Delivers Optimized Composites Designs in Less Time

14th April 2008 0 comments

Vistagy says that the latest version of its suite of composites product development software, FiberSIM 5.4, delivers optimized composites designs in a shorter period of time by enabling engineers to perform more design iterations later in the development process. One of the most significant new features in FiberSIM 5.4 is its integration with MSC.Software’s SimXpert finite element analysis (FEA) software. FEA mesh information created in SimXpert can now be communicated to FiberSIM with the click of a button, creating a common data representation and design tool for composite lay-up. Previous to this link, two different sets of geometry existed—3D CAD geometry and FEA geometry. Because FiberSIM is completely integrated into commercial 3D CAD systems, the FiberSIM composite definition and SimXpert’s FEA definition are linked directly to the same CAD geometry. This allows products to be designed, validated, and optimized without having to translate volumes of data between different software tools. As a result, the solution eliminates data translations and inconsistencies between design and analysis and more effectively manages design changes throughout the development cycle. Due to FiberSIM’s unique capability to update a composite design while preserving the design intent, no longer do engineers have to start the design over from scratch each time Stress delivers new specifications. This makes it possible to perform more iterations of the design much later in the development process, delivering more optimized parts in less time. In addition to the powerful new link between analysis and design that promotes part optimization, Vistagy continues to improve the ability of engineers to design specifically for the chosen composite manufacturing process using the latest tools in FiberSIM. The following new capabilities are included in FiberSIM 5.4: • Ramp generation – New capabilities for generating ramp surfaces between ply zones handle multi-directional curvature and allow filleting of the ramp sections, resulting in an accurate surface for the creation of tooling. • Color-coding of ply boundaries – Tools for color-coding plies based on material type and ply orientation provide rapid feedback on boundaries and sequences and give engineers a visual representation of the composition of the part to aid the manufacturing process. • Core – New tools allow engineers to develop parts with more complex core conditions and support the multitude of ways engineers want to design with core. • Splicing – In addition to tools for splicing for material width, FiberSIM 5.4 now provides the capability to splice for material handling requirements to aid the lay-up process. Many enhancements also make the tool simpler to operate. All of the new functionality is offered with improved ease of use. In addition to traditional .pdf help documentation, FiberSIM 5.4 now delivers html-based help that is much like browsing a Web page, making it more intuitive and easier to find answers to questions. Context-sensitive help is also introduced in this new release. The software understands the step in the process the user is currently engaged in and automatically goes to the proper page in the help documentation to present the solution to the problem. This reduces the time required to find answers to software use questions. “The link between FiberSIM and SimXpert will deliver unprecedented process improvements in the development of composites products by making it easy to perform multiple design iterations much later in the process based on updates to the structural requirements. This, in combination with significant new functionality that makes it possible for engineers to use best design practices for the chosen manufacturing process, makes FiberSIM 5.4 the ideal software for delivering composite components that meet all performance, weight and cost requirements,” said Bob Flory, vice president of product development at VISTAGY, Inc. FiberSIM 5.4 will be available for shipment at the end of the second quarter of 2008.

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RocTool Listed on the Marché Libre

14th April 2008 0 comments

RocTool has successfully carried out a private placement amongst qualified investors, in the form of a €3.2 million capital increase. 592,592 new shares were issued, at a price of €5.40 per share, within the framework of a capital increase associated with a listing on the Euronext Paris Marché Libre in order to: – Launch new technologies – Continue R&D investments and broaden the patent portfolio – Accelerate communication, marketing and sales development efforts – Strengthen the Company’s teams – Set up technology Pilots in Europe, the USA and Japan. The Company’s shares will be listed from 25th March 2008, with an offering of 1,000 shares at €5.40 each, and RocTool will trade on the Euronext Paris Marché Libre from 26th March 2008 under ISIN number FR0010523167. The share price will be defined by the fixing. Alexandre Guichard, Chief Executive Officer of RocTool, commented: “Our listing on the Euronext Paris Marché Libre is a true cornerstone in RocTool’s history, and will enable us to pursue and accelerate our international development. It will also increase our weight in negotiations with our sector majors. Our patented technology is unique worldwide, and we fully believe in its ability to become a global benchmark in the moulding of composite materials and, in the medium term, of plastics. This is why we would like to thank our shareholders, staff and partners who have chosen to put their trust in us.” RocTool recorded 2007 revenues of €1.03 million, and forecasts 2012 revenues of close to €10 million with net profit of €2.5 million.

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Boeing Revises 787 First Flight and Delivery Plans

14th April 2008 0 comments

Boeing has revised plans for first flight and initial deliveries of the 787 Dreamliner, that includes additional schedule margin to reduce risk of further delays on the program. While significant progress has been made assembling Airplane #1, first flight is being rescheduled due to slower than expected completion of work that travelled from supplier facilities into Boeing’s final assembly line, unanticipated rework, and the addition of margin into the testing schedule. The new delivery schedule is based on a more conservative production plan developed with the 787 partner team. That schedule now targets approximately 25 deliveries in 2009. First flight of the all-new airplane will move into the fourth quarter of this year rather than the end of the second quarter, and first delivery is now planned for the third quarter of 2009 instead of first quarter. Company officials expressed confidence in the new plan and the steps being taken to accelerate program performance. “”Over the past few months, we have taken strong actions to confront and overcome start-up issues on the program, and we have made solid progress,”” said Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Scott Carson. “”Nevertheless, the traveled work situation and some unanticipated rework have prevented us from hitting the milestones we laid out in January. Our revised schedule is built upon an achievable, high-confidence plan for getting us to our power-on and first-flight milestones. Also, while the fundamental technologies and design of the 787 remain sound, we have inserted some additional schedule margin for dealing with other issues we may uncover in testing prior to first flight and in the flight test program.”” The company said in January it would be conducting a comprehensive assessment of its supply chain and production system capabilities to determine the details of the 787’s flight test program and initial delivery profile. As a result of that assessment, the first-year delivery plan announced today will be followed by a more gradual ramp up to full-rate production than previously planned. “”We deeply regret the disruption and disappointment these changes will cause for our customers, and we will work closely with each of them to minimize the impact,”” said Carson. “”We have taken significant action to improve supply chain and production system performance, such as our investment in Global Aeronautica, but based on our assessment, the prudent course is to proceed with a more gradual ramp up to full-rate production.”” Pat Shanahan, 787 vice president and program manager, echoed Carson’s comments about the progress being made in 787 factories. “”The work that remains to be done on Airplane #1 is well defined, and we can see our way to — and have confidence in — the new milestones we have set for it,”” said Shanahan. “”We have addressed the major challenges that slowed our progress while trying to complete the primary structure — the parts shortages, engineering changes, and manufacturing changes — and we are well into the systems installation that is the precursor to putting power on the airplane for the first time. We have also worked closely with our partners to achieve higher levels of completion of their parts of subsequent airplanes, and we will continue to drive improvements in the supply chain and production system performance,”” he said. For tracking program progress, Shanahan outlined a series of milestones that will occur before June 30: 787 static and fatigue structural test airplanes will move to their testing locations; Airplanes #3 and #4 will enter final assembly; hardware airworthiness qualifications will be complete; and power on will be achieved. Shanahan also said the program has changed the timing of the introduction of two 787 derivatives. The 787-9, a larger variant of the airplane, will be the first derivative of the baseline 787 with delivery planned for early 2012. The 787-3, a shorter-range model previously slated to deliver in 2010, will now become the second derivative of the airplane family. While research and development costs will likely increase as a result of the 787 schedule change, Boeing expects no change to 2008 earnings guidance. The company continues to expect strong earnings per share growth in 2009 and will provide complete 2009 financial guidance when it holds its first-quarter 2008 earnings conference call later this month. The outlook for the company’s defense business and in-production commercial airplane programs remains strong.

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Lord and Wabash National Implement Adhesive Bonding in Vans

14th April 2008 0 comments

Lord has signed a long-term agreement with Wabash National for the supply of Lord engineered adhesives and Lord Fusor aftermarket repair adhesives.

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AOC Price Increase for US Exports

14th April 2008 0 comments

AOC will make a US$0.07 per pound price increase on all resins and gel coats exported from the United States, effective for all shipments beginning April 21, 2008. According to AOC, crude oil has reached a new milestone and is now trading in excess of $100 per barrel on a daily basis as demand continues to rise. Natural Gas costs are also rising as NG consumption has increased and storage inventories have declined due to North America experiencing one of the coldest winters in recent times. Critical feedstocks used to make the raw materials for Unsaturated Polyester Resin have risen, and the trend will continue as raw material increases lag Crude Oil and Natural Gas price changes.

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ESI Group Partnership in ITOOL

14th April 2008 0 comments

ESI Group has said that it is a partner in ITOOL, a project to simulate preform manufacturing, draping and impregnation, followed by the external loading of the finished component.

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