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Composites Industry News

News for June 2003


1946 Fiberglass Concept Car is Exhibit Highlight

23rd June 2003 0 comments

This 1946 Project Y “”Stout,”” the prototype, Fiberglas car — designed and built at Owens Corning Fiberglas in Newark — is now on display at The Works Museum. The car was found in a Detroit storage facility by Gary Kosier, of Newark, and it was loaned to the Newark-based museum for display. The exhibit is a result of nearly 200 interviews by volunteers with The Works’ Oral History Program who interviewed local residents at their homes on home life and work life. Visitors will get to see images of the past and hear 30-45 second snippets of firsthand accounts of life in the county through interactive computers, said Earl Browning, one of the volunteers on the Oral History Program. Companies featured in the exhibit include Owens Corning Fiberglas, the Pure Oil Co., Holophane, Rockwell International, the Newark Stove Co. and more. As visitors weave through the exhibit’s four sections — the introduction, life, innovation and transportation — they can’t miss its highlight: the 1946 Project Y car. The car — also known as the Stout Forty-Six — was a dream car created by William Bushnell Stout, an automobile and airplane designer, and Games Slayter, then-vice president of research for Owens Corning Fiberglas. The two recruited the help of Granville artist and technician, Walter Krause, and worked secretly on the project in a Newark garage rented by Owens Corning Fiberglas. The car changed the way builders and designers viewed automobiles and achieved many firsts. It was the first made of Fiberglas-reinforced plastic — which was supposed to be lighter and stronger than steel. It had the first wrap-around glass windshield to increase driver visibility. The front seats swivel to face the back — “”so dad could play Monopoly with the kids,”” suggested Paul Legris, The Works’ exhibit developer. Also, the rear seat could be converted into a double bed, and there was room enough to set up a card table in the passenger compartment. Stout drove the automobile cross-country several times giving demonstrations. He traveled more than 250,000 miles. Today, the Project Y car is owned by the Detroit Historical Society Museum. It was restored by The Works and will be on display for at least five years, said Chris Sauerzopf, digital director. Stout did not plan to put the Stout Forty-Six on the production line, according to a July 1946 “”Popular Science”” article. “”Designer Stout calls his car just a $10,000 experiment to show what can be done with Fiberglas as a structural material,”” the article said.

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New Pocket Park for Wollaston Residents

23rd June 2003 0 comments

Scott Bader residents in Wollaston saw the official opening of its own pocket park in the heart of the village. Allan Bell, Managing Director of polymer company Scott Bader, and local school girl Rebecca Cole (aged 11), who designed the winning logo advertising the park, performed the opening ceremony. The pocket park, situated in Bell End in Wollaston, was leased to Wollaston Parish Council at a peppercorn rent for 25 years as part of Scott Bader’s 50 year anniversary celebrations and the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2001. Following two public meetings a management committee, led by Parish Councillor Clive Convine, was established from local resident volunteers. Together they designed and managed the project. With financial aid from Scott Bader, Wellingborough Borough Council and Northamptonshire County Council to the sum of £20,000 and volunteer support from local residents, the area was transformed from a dark, enclosed walled garden. It has been opened up and given an attractive new entrance in keeping with the conservation status of the village. And has been designed to provide access suitable for wheelchair users when complete. Local firms have also provided services and equipment free of charge. County Council cabinet member for the environment, Jim Wade, says: “I would like to thank Scott Bader for its generosity. The project has resulted in a natural and peaceful haven for the whole community to enjoy. The aim is to conserve wildlife and create new habitats, and volunteers have been working hard, planting native Northamptonshire shrubs, a bog garden, a wildflower area, making log piles and nest boxes. In time I hope local schools will use the site to learn about the environment.”

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Don Aker to Receive Lifetime Achievement Award

23rd June 2003 0 comments

Don Aker, the man who in 1967 started what became one of the world’s largest tub and shower manufacturing facilities, Aker Plastics, has been named the 2003 recipient of the Composites Fabricators Association’s (CFA) Lifetime Achievement Award. “”I got started in fiberglass in 1955,”” Aker said, who, like many CFA lifetime award winners, came from humble roots. “”I helped my brother-in-law Don Corl who just started making boats.”” By 1958 Aker was working for the Curtis-Wright Corporation and in 1960 set up a fiberglass plant in Elkhart, Indiana for the Calco Corporation. By 1965 he was a partner in American Formed Plastics before opening Aker in January of ’67 in Mishawaka, Indiana. “”It was a one-man family shop,”” he remembers. Nineteen sixty nine saw the move to a 10,000 square-foot facility and a 12-person crew. In 1972, Aker left Mishawaka and set up shop in Plymouth, his home town. At the time, he built parts for RVs – fronts, backs, tanks, showers, and tubs. In 1975 he dropped the RV business to focus on tubs and showers for the residential market and sewage ejector tanks. With growth in the tub and shower market on a steady incline, Aker sold the sewage ejector business to A.K. Industries in 1981. “”In 1994 I retired for the first time and sold my business to my children, Mark, Gary, and Jayne, and became a consultant,”” he said proudly. The business continued to grow as Aker opened an additional manufacturing facility in Plymouth and a new facility in Martinsburg, West Virginia, employing more than 800 workers. Don Aker joins a growing list of previous lifetime award recipients: Robert Morrison, Wes Hoch, Everett Pearson, Brandt Goldsworthy, and Lowell Miles. Aker will receive his award at COMPOSITES 2003 in Anaheim on October 3rd, and be the subject of an in depth historical profile in an upcoming edition of Composites Fabrication Magazine.

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Dow Announces Price Increases For Epoxy Resins

23rd June 2003 0 comments

The Epoxy Products and Intermediates business of The Dow Chemical Company is increasing the North American price of its brominated epoxy resins. Effective July 1, 2003 for spot customers or as contracts allow, Dow will increase the North American off-list price of brominated epoxy resins (D.E.R.* 500 series) by $0.04 per pound.

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7E7 Suppliers Make Short List

23rd June 2003 0 comments

Fuji Heavy Industries, Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which have participated in development of both the 767 and 777 jets, made the shortened list of candidates to manufacture substantial portions of the 7E7 airframe along with Dallas-based Vought Aircraft Industries and Alenia Aeronautica of Italy. Boeing made the announcement at the Paris Air Show. The 7E7 is Boeing’s proposed next-generation jetliner, envisioned to be more fuel-efficient and cheaper to maintain than today’s planes. Late this year or early in 2004, Boeing’s directors are expected to make the multibillion-dollar decision of whether to finance the new model. The company will select a final assembly location from among nearly 20 competing states. On the 777, they supply about 20 percent of the airframe, including fuselage panels and doors, the wing center section, the wing-to-body fairing and the wing inspar ribs. Vought builds panels for the Boeing 747 fuselage in Hawthorne, Calif. In Stuart, Fla., it produces doors for various Boeing jets and the center wing section and components for the 767. Alenia makes the 717’s entire fuselage; fuselage panels for the 757; the vertical stabilizer and control surfaces for the 767; and the nose cone on the 777. It has expertise in composites and supplies a 12-meter long outboard flap made from carbon fiber for the 777. Though Boeing is its major customer, Alenia also partners with Airbus and will make the center section of the fuselage for the forthcoming A380 superjumbo jet. The suppliers that made the cut may be offered equity stakes in the project. In a signal of the magnitude of the partnership arrangements being discussed, Boeing Commercial Airplanes Chief Executive Alan Mulally said he wouldn’t rule out forming a separate company to build the new jet. Boeing outsources about 65 percent of the manufacturing of its current jets, but that percentage looks set to rise steeply. “”Excluding the engine, Boeing is looking to have 70 to 80 percent of the new plane built by other companies,”” Alenia CEO Giorgio Zappa told reporters in Paris. A final decision on suppliers and the work each will do is not likely before the end of the year. “”We are not at a point where we can say specifically what parts or what percentage of the airplane will be awarded to any company,”” said Mike Bair, senior vice president of the 7E7 program. Boeing confirmed that one internal company site — Wichita, Kansas. — will be a candidate for major subassembly work on a par with the five outside suppliers. Boeing would say only that other internal company units were not out of consideration. The other internal sites in contention are Boeing Winnipeg in Canada; Hawker de Havilland in Australia; and the Frederickson wing-fabrication plant near Tacoma. The latter makes aluminum wings and wing components as well as composite tail components for existing Boeing jets. Wichita makes the nose and cockpit for every Boeing jet except the 717 and likely wants that part of the 7E7. To help secure work on the planned 7E7, the Kansas Legislature recently approved a $500 million loan to Boeing Wichita, with interest payments coming out of state income taxes to workers on the program. Over a 20-year repayment period, this arrangement would save Boeing an estimated $200 million.

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Minardi Buy Up Arrows Chassis

23rd June 2003 0 comments

Minardi have bought five Arrows A23 in the sell-off of the failed team’s assets. A spokesman for Minardi confirmed that they had bought the 2002 chassis with a view to getting some ideas as to how they could improve their own car. Given the slightly disappointing performance of this year’s Minardi PS03 chassis, there is bound to be some speculation that they will be raced – but the team denied this. He said: “”Two are in quite good shape and could be put into service and the others are mainly for parts. “”We’ll have a look at the car and see if some of the ideas on them could help us develop our current cars.”” The spokesman would not be drawn on how much they had paid for the cars but said they had been bought direct from the receiver rather than at auction. The A23 was designed by Mike Coughlan, who has since moved on to McLaren. Like this year’s Minardi, the car uses Cosworth engines. Minardi also bought a load of raw materials, such as carbon fibre and metal. Minardi last week received a cash injection from Bernie Ecclestone but the spokesman said he had nothing to do with the deal and it was down to “”the generosity of one of our Dutch sponsors.”” At least two other F1 teams are understood to have purchased equipment from Arrows’ receivers.

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Raytheon Aircraft Dissassembles Starship Fleet

23rd June 2003 0 comments

Raytheon has begun disassembling its fleet of 40 Beechcraft Starships, the company’s short-lived airplane program that was first announced at the National Business Aviation Association convention in Dallas in 1983. “”The costs of supporting the fleet are prohibitive,”” says Raytheon Aircraft spokeswoman Jackie Berger. The elimination of Raytheon Aircraft’s Starship fleet, the company’s first composite fuselage aircraft, will mean only 13 of the 53 airplanes originally manufactured will remain in the world. Berger says the company has already “”decommissioned”” six of the Starships it owned — three prototype Starships and three production models. Berger says the company will scrap parts of the airplanes — such as the fuselage — that don’t have component value. Berger says there will be no incremental financial impact to the scrapping of the fleet. She says those costs were already accounted for when Raytheon Aircraft took charges on its commuter aircraft, the Beech 1900D. The company took charges of $693 million on the commuter aircraft in the third quarter 2001 as well as charges of $52 million “”related to used general aviation aircraft,”” according to a statement dated Oct. 23, 2002. “”The positive side of this aircraft is it gave us the knowledge and experience to take composites to the next level,”” Berger says of the company’s recent composite fuselage aircraft programs, the Premier I and Hawker Horizon business jets.

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Simula to Develop Comanche Helicopter Seats

23rd June 2003 0 comments

Simula has been awarded a contract to develop and manufacture crashworthy armored crew seats for the initial production run of the Boeing-Sikorsky Team’s RAH-66 Comanche Armed Reconnaissance helicopter. At present, the U.S. Army has an approved procurement objective of 650 RAH-66 aircraft to replace its aging fleet of OH-58 Kiowa and AH-1 Cobra helicopters, which currently perform scout and light attack duties. The initial production run contract is to develop and manufacture 22 seats and is valued at $600,000. The fully realized RAH-66 production program has the potential to require 1,600 seats, including spares, and is valued at approximately $36M. Simula produced the crashworthy seats used in the RAH-66 during the advanced helicopter’s “”Demonstration-Validation (D-V)”” phase, and will be adding its lightweight ceramic/composite armor to the newly designed “”Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD)”” version of the seat. Simula’s crashworthy crew seats represent the state of the art in occupant protection from crash forces and projectile threats. The crew seats’ armor is composed of a Simula-proprietary lightweight monolithic ceramic component that is bonded to a layered composite component to form the seat bucket and provide protection from projectile and fragmentation threats.

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