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Composites Industry News

News for February 2011


Radio Frequency Sheet Moulding Compound Preheater introduced

22nd February 2011 0 comments

A new preheating system for sheet moulding compound (SMC) that uses radio frequency heating technology is being introduced by Radio Frequency Co., Inc. of Millis, Massachusetts. This new system is claimed to improve the distribution of reinforcement fibres in the moulding process which enhances product quality and strength, reduces press cure time by 50%, and be especially effective for thicker bosses and structures. According to Radio Frequency Co, the Macrowave SMC Preheater provides uniform heating throughout the entire thickness of the sheet moulding compound instantly, without requiring any temperature differential to force heat by conduction from the surface to the centre. They say that this facilitates the movement and distribution of fibres throughout moulded parts, improving their strength and surface finish, and that the RF preheater reduces press cure time which enables a 100% increase in productivity for an existing press. The Macrowave SMC preheater is capable of preheating SMC loads up to 30″” W x 84″” L in under one minute, has a PLC which controls the heat cycle time, power level, and conveyor movement to synchronize with the press operation. The conveyor can either feed the SMC charge straight through the press or return it to the feed end after heating. The Macrowave SMC preheater is priced from $95K up, depending upon belt size and other customer requirements.

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Alliant Techsystems Orders MAG Fibre Placement System for F-35

22nd February 2011 0 comments

MAG IAS has expanded its role as a supplier of manufacturing technology for the F-35 Lightning II with an order for two VIPER 6000 Fibre Placement Systems from Alliant Techsystems. The two systems will be the first MAG fibre placement machines installed at ATK’s Clearfield, Utah, facility, bringing to seven the total number of VIPER AFP (automated fibre placement) systems installed at ATK plants. The order includes MAG’s ACES software (Advanced Composites Environment Suite), a modular programming and simulation system, which will be customized with new functionality to aid programming of existing machines at the plant. The two systems will ship in early 2012. “”In the competitive evaluation leading up to this order, our ability to optimize the process and system for this particular application was a pivotal advantage for us,”” explained Randy Kappesser, Vice President MAG Composites. “”The VIPER system can deliver high lay-up rates with difficult bismaleimide (BMI) material, which is important to the cost-reduction goals for the F-35 program,”” Kappesser added. “”Equally important, MAG proved it had the total, integrated package of hardware, software and processing expertise to ensure rapid and successful implementation in a demanding environment. Adding further value for the customer, we will create new modules for our ACES software, which will provide a single programming and simulation platform that encompasses this plant’s new and existing machines.”” “”MAG offered the best combination of cost, schedule and technical risk with this equipment, and is willing to stand behind the lay-up rate demanded with this challenging BMI material system,”” said Vern Benson, chief technologist at ATK. “”By combining ATK and MAG’s prior experience, we expect a synergy that will redefine ‘state-of-the-art’ for automated fibre placement with BMI materials.”” The current order reinforces MAG’s role as leading supplier of automated production systems for the F-35 program, according to Kappesser. “”To date, MAG has shipped or received orders for a significant number of fibre placement systems of various types for the F-35 program. MAG also supplies drilling and milling systems for the F-35 program and recently received an order from prime contractor Lockheed Martin for two AutoDrill systems to be used in wing fabrication,”” he added. “”In the competitive and cost-reduction-driven environment surrounding the F-35 program, MAG production technology has proven itself a dominant force, favourably positioning our company to work with additional suppliers as the program ramps up.”” The VIPER AFP system provides control over feed, clamp, cut and re-start for up to 32 individual tows of composite prepreg slit tape, allowing automated “”on-the-fly”” adjustment of the fibre band width. The VIPER 6000 handles tow widths of 3.2, 6.4 and 12.7 mm (0.125, 0.25, 0.5 in), producing fibre band widths up to 406.4 mm (16 in).

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Vistagy Donates FiberSIM Software to UMass Amherst College of Engineering

22nd February 2011 0 comments

Vistagy has donated 10 FiberSIM composites engineering software licenses to the UMass Amherst College of Engineering. “”FiberSIM is clearly the number one composites engineering software so this donation by Vistagy, an industry pioneer and leader, enhances our ability to conduct cutting edge research in composites manufacturing and will provide new knowledge in the research and educational programs for our students,”” said Ted Djaferis, dean of the College of Engineering. “”It will also enable our faculty and students to gain a greater understanding of the design process for highly complex engineering products, such as wind turbine blades, medical devices, and aerospace parts.”” According to Vistagy, there are a number of individuals and organizations that will benefit from using FiberSIM. Researchers in the Wind Energy Center will be able to perfect their design of wind turbine blades. The Center for e-design can use the software to explore ways to model some of the manufacturability information that FiberSIM enables design engineers to capture in the native CAD tool using formal information modeling techniques. Newly hired faculty member Frank Sup will be able to use the software to improve the design of robotic prosthetic devices. The undergraduate team that designs and builds the super mileage vehicle each year can use FiberSIM to optimize the carbon fibre body. And students in the graduate introduction to Finite Element Analysis (FEA) course will be able to use it to develop more accurate FEA models. This donation continues Vistagy’s dedication to promoting engineering excellence at UMass Amherst, while advancing composites technology in general. The use of composites is growing rapidly but this growth represents only a small percentage of the potential. The potential is fragmented because materials and processes; shapes, sizes, and tolerances; part definitions, and outputs are becoming more industry-specific. In fact, composite parts and assemblies can be as different in shape, size, and makeup as a two-inch long guiding vane for a jet engine or a 200-foot long wind turbine blade. “”As new industries embrace composites and the range of materials and processes continues to expand, the design and manufacturing challenges are becoming far more complicated,”” said Steve Luby, president and CEO of Vistagy and a UMass Amherst College of Engineering graduate. “”Being able to understand and surmount the challenges on an industry-by-industry basis will be crucial, so we are delighted to have the opportunity to help prepare future generations of UMass Amherst engineers to meet these complex and evolving challenges.””

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Reducing Automotive Cost (Not Weight) Will Drive Composite Growth

22nd February 2011 0 comments

Although replacing steel with composites can reduce vehicle weight and overall fuel consumption, cost savings will be the primary driver for adoption, according to Lux Research. The accelerating demand for more fuel-efficient cars has raised hopes that automakers will accelerate their adoption of lightweight automotive composites. As an alternative to steel and aluminium, polymer-based composites can lower overall vehicle weight and help reduce fuel consumption. Yet, despite their potential benefits for consumers and the environment, composites are unlikely to replace steel except in applications where they reduce manufacturing costs for the automaker, according to a new report by Lux Research. Titled “”Chasing Cars: Can Composites Catch Up to Steel?,”” the report surveys the factors promoting and impeding the adoption of composite materials, examines their potential to replace metals as the dominant material in cars, and identifies technologies in development that could potentially change how composites compare down the road. “”The conventional wisdom that automakers will adopt composites solely for weight reduction misses the mark,”” said David Hwang, an analyst for Lux Research and the report’s lead author. “”In reality, composites will find the most use in places where they help cut manufacturing costs, such as in low-volume production and electric vehicles.”” In preparing its analysis, Lux Research surveyed leading automakers and composite material suppliers regarding factors that would most likely accelerate or slow adoption of composites in automotive design. Among the report’s key findings:

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Entropy Resins Delivers Sustainable Performance Composites for Consumer Goods

22nd February 2011 0 comments

With its Super Sap line of bio-derived epoxy systems, Entropy Resins, a California-based materials company, is enabling a new generation of companies to create environmentally friendly yet high performance composite products. Over the past year, Entropy has partnered with several sporting goods companies to bring their Super Sap technology to market. One such company, Utah-based Niche Snowboards, uses a proprietary version of Super Sap across their entire snowboard line. “”From the start we wanted to design and build a product where every component had some environmental improvement over the industry standard,”” states Dustin Morrell, COO of Niche. “”However, snowboards go through an incredible amount of abuse so we had to make sure these components were not only eco-friendly but also performed. Entropy Resins was able to deliver on both goals.”” For 2011, Entropy customers are introducing commercial products across other action sports, including alpine skis, skateboards, and surfboards. However, eco-friendly sporting goods are just the beginning for the materials company. Entropy Resins is expanding into the larger composites markets like wind energy, transportation, and civil engineering. “”With new industry standards and government legislation focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and maximizing the sustainability of our natural resources, we feel there are further opportunities for our bio-based technology.”” states Desi Banatao, lead applications engineer for Entropy. Later this year, Entropy will introduce a line of coatings and adhesive products aimed specifically at the construction industry, as well as resin infusion systems for making large composite parts. Entropy’s Super Sap epoxy is based on a patent pending process that replaces petroleum-based chemicals with those sourced from bio-renewable feedstock and waste streams of other industrial processes. “”By sharing bio-renewable feed stocks with other industries, like the paper pulp and bio-fuels industries, and using manufacturing processes that require less energy and water we can significantly reduce the carbon footprint of our resins””, states Rey Banatao, Entropy’s lead biochemist. “”Considering resins can be more than 50% of the volume in a composite structure, these savings can be environmentally significant.”” Because composites are integral to a product’s structure and integrity, performance has always been a priority for Entropy’s R&D efforts and is the key differentiator for their products. “”Historically, bio-derived materials have been used in the resin industry as diluents or plasticizers in adhesives or coatings, which is usually opposite of what you want in a composite.”” states Desi Banatao. “”However from the beginning our goal has been to employ bio-derived technologies that not only match the performance of existing petroleum-based composites but surpass them in certain areas.”” These areas include adhesion and elongation properties that can improve the longevity of composite structure and ultimately the end product.

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Syrgis Opens New Company in China

22nd February 2011 0 comments

Syrgis has received a license to operate a business in China under the name Shanghai Syrgis Trading Co., Ltd, to support and grow the presence of the company’s Performance Initiators business in China.

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Axson Technologies Investing in China and India

22nd February 2011 0 comments

Axson Technologies, specialising in the formulation and manufacture of epoxy and polyurethane resins, is opening a new production plant in China for the dielectrics and wind turbine market moving closer to PSA, Nissan, Valeo and Schneider. ”This new plant will see us triple and even quadruple our production compared to our facilities already in Shanghai. We are also hoping to open a new site in India by end 2011,” explains Lionel Puget, CEO of AXSON Technologies. This opening is part of the company’s international development strategy launched in 1994 when the company was acquired through an LBO. With six R&D centres throughout the world, six production units in France, Slovakia, Mexico, the United States, Japan, China and soon India complemented by a network of subsidiaries and exclusive distributors in over thirty countries, Axson Technologies has invested in the world’s industries for 15 years and is today present on every continent. ”No industrial customer should be further than 500km from an Axson unit. With around 300 people in our group, we have successfully positioned ourselves throughout the world and generate around 80% of sales in export with exponential growth on the Asian markets,” he adds. ”The first concern for companies establishing an overseas presence is consistent product quality,” underlines Lionel Puget. AXSON Technologies assists customers on an international level managing their technology transfers. ”We are developing our resins in close cooperation with customers to meet their requirements in Europe, the US and Japan and we then adapt the formula locally on our production site. As an example, our structure means we can develop products in Europe then transfer them to Asia for production using the country’s raw material resources,” he continues.

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