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Composites Industry News

News for June 2004


Dow’s Epoxy Resin Business Under Pricing Pressures

11th June 2004 0 comments

The Dow Chemical Company says that the epoxy resin business remains under intense upward pressure on pricing as supply tightens due to rising global demand and raw material and energy costs continue to soar. “An increasingly tight supply and demand balance of epoxy products, plus persistently high and volatile hydrocarbon feedstock and energy costs are driving up prices of our epoxy products globally. This is impacting all market segments from coatings to electrical laminates and others,” says Patrick Ho, business vice president, Epoxy Products and Intermediates (EP&I) at Dow. “We are seeing unprecedented high volatility on feedstock costs across the whole value chain. Under this very challenging environment, it is critical that we find ways to build greater flexibility into our pricing structure so we can respond promptly to market changes.” Ho adds, “As a company, Dow is moving away from price protection practices that have historically been in place, and the epoxy business is no exception. Based on our best forecast, we do not see any immediate relief on hydrocarbon costs nor industry balance. We are working with our customers on implementing the full price increase that took effect early this month.” Ho also cites the tightening of supply as another factor putting pressure on Dow epoxy resin prices. “As the world economy continues to recover, demand for epoxy products is up across the globe, particularly in Asia Pacific. Our manufacturing facilities, including the newly started unit in Zhangjiagang, China, are all operating at full capacity to ensure reliable supply to our customers.” Chlorine and propylene, made from petroleum oil (refined crude oil), or petroleum gases, are some of the main raw materials used to manufacture epichlorohydrin, which combines with bisphenol-A to make epoxy resins. Each of these raw materials are also used to make many other products such as polypropylene plastic, water treatment polymers, polycarbonate and PVC. Demand for these and other downstream products affects the availability and prices of intermediates for epoxy resins. “With our fully integrated business capabilities, Dow is well positioned and very committed to support the epoxy market with high-quality products and reliable services,” says Ho. “We will continue to invest in product innovation and world-class production and supply capabilities to better service our customers on a global basis. We see our commitment as a key source of differentiation and industry leadership.”

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Swedish Navy Test Carbon Fibre Stealth Ship

11th June 2004 0 comments

The Swedish Navy is testing out a CFRP “Visby” ship which is believed to be the most “”invisible”” yet. The Visby is designed to have a low key radar signature. Ever since radar was invented by the British during World War II, the military have been looking at ways to avoid detection, sometimes with success, but now it seems that naval architects have come up with another solution.

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Lincolnshire Town Benefits from GRP Anti-Odour Kiosks

18th June 2004 0 comments

Plans are afoot to remedy sewage odours in Grimsby, UK, by installing glass reinforced plastic kiosks.

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Great Lakes Will Introduce New Additives at K2004

18th June 2004 0 comments

Great Lakes Chemical Corporation are to launch the latest additions to its range of flame retardants and polymer stabilizers at K 2004. K 2004, which will be held in Dusseldorf, Germany on October 20-27th, will see expansions of each of Great Lakes’ flame retardant families including bromine-, phosphorus-, and antimony-based flame retardants and other synergists, in addition to the launch of new, specialized polymer stabilizer systems incorporating the company’s broad range of UV absorbers, Hindered Amine Light Stabilizers (HALS), antioxidants and nucleating / clarifying agents. Great Lakes will extend its flame retardant portfolio to feature two new flame retardants for use in electrical components such as connectors, relays and switches. Firemaster BP411, a brominated polystyrene flame retardant additive, and Firemaster CP-44HF a polybrominated styrene co-polymer, complement the company’s existing, highly successful range of brominated styrene flame retardants for engineering thermoplastic resins. Each product demonstrates unique performance in the areas of thermal stability, flow and blister resistance in thermoplastic polyester and high temperature polyamide applications. A third new product launch at the show is a halogen-free flame retardant for polyurethane foam. This additive is primarily for use in the automotive industry to help manufacturers meet more demanding emission specifications. In April 2004 Great Lakes announced the creation of GLCC Laurel LLC, a joint venture between Great Lakes and Laurel Industries Inc. This means that in addition to the existing Great Lakes range of antimony-based flame retardants and synergists, K 2004 will feature the PetCat line of high quality, performance grade antimony trioxide used as a Catalyst in the manufacture of polyethylene terephthalate (PET). The new range of ClearLite nucleating agents / clarifiers, highlighted at K 2004 are claimed to increase the overall crystallization rate of semi-crystalline polymers like polypropylene, polyamide and polyester, allowing increased productivity and improved physical properties. Several innovative, application focused solutions will also be launched at K 2004 such as Anox FiberPlus, Anox CompoundPlus, Anox ProcessPlus and Anox RecyclePlus. These customized stabilization systems have been developed to offer optimized performance and cost compared to existing additive systems, in addition to fulfilling unmet industry requirements.

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Material Experts Draw Inspiration from Harry Potter

18th June 2004 0 comments

When materials scientists and engineers see a film like “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” they automatically start thinking about the materials and processes that would equal or exceed the performance of the imaginary vehicles on the big screen. “We can’t watch a movie without thinking of ways to make the impossible possible,” said materials scientist Bob Bianco, chairman of the Cleveland Chapter of ASM International, the materials information society. “We’re always asking ‘What’s in it?’– trying to figure out what something is made of, and how a similar device could be fabricated in real life for Muggles (non-magic people).” In the latest Potter movie, the triple-decker Knight Bus accelerates like a rocket and stops like a dropped anchor. “Sounds like a project for the greatest Muggle aviation machine builder in the world, the U.S. Air Force,” said ASM member Greg Petrus, vice president, Deformation Control Technology, Inc. Petrus cited the composite materials used on the Lockheed F117-A Nighthawk stealth fighter, which are lighter than aluminium and so strong they won’t dent, even when struck with a hammer. “They’re the perfect material choice for a light, high-performance vehicle that’s about as aerodynamic as a brick,” he said. To stop the bus, composites again provide the answer. “At speeds the Knight Bus is capable of, the brakes would be exposed to extreme friction and high heat,” Petrus said. “Materials like polymer-metallic composites and advanced carbon/carbon composites would enable the brakes to provide tremendous stopping power, compared to the conventional brakes you’d find in the family car.” Trautman thought the use of a cast iron cauldron as a bookbag might be excessive for students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. “If they lugged those around, the kids would have forearms like Arnold Schwarzenegger,” she said. “A cauldron one foot in diameter with a one-inch wall thickness would weigh more than 50 lbs.” She suggested that lighter alternatives to cast iron would have to be determined by the chemical compatibility of various potions brewed in them. At the other extreme of materials performance, Harry’s new Firebolt racing broom is a vast improvement over his old Nimbus 2000. “That’s exactly the kind of applied science we see in the Muggle world of sporting materials,” said Ray Cribb, director of technology for alloy products at Brush Wellman Inc. “It’s all about ‘feel.’ When a piece of equipment has the right combination of strength and elasticity, hardness and light weight – and it feels right when you use it – that’s what we’re all looking for, whether the game is golf, tennis or Quidditch.” Of all the items in the universe of Harry Potter, at least one is far beyond the capabilities of today’s materials and processes. “Harry’s invisibility cloak would take new research that goes well beyond today’s stealth technology,” Bianco said. “I could envision the cloak being made from a revolutionary new fabric consisting of glass and carbon nanofibres, exhibiting both unique optical and thermoelectric properties,” he said. The fabric would utilize the heat from the wearer’s body to change the optical properties of the nanofibres so that light could pass completely through, making the cloak and its inhabitants invisible. “This kind of technology is ‘way out there,” Bianco said. “But that’s the kind of thing that keeps a materials scientist motivated – to find a better way to do something, or to attempt the impossible.” “Because of advances in materials, we Muggles can design vehicles that perform better while using less fuel, nanomaterials for sensors that can improve homeland security and medical materials that save lives,” said Stan Theobald, ASM managing director. “When you think about it, there’s a little magic in everything that’s made.”

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Cooks Composites Increase Prices for Gel Coats and Resins

18th June 2004 0 comments

Cook Composites and Polymers will increase pricing by $0.05 per pound for its gel coat and resin products, effective July 12, 2004. This increase will apply to all shipments made on or after the effective date. According to Paul Colonna, Vice President for CCP Composites, these changes are attributed to the following factors: The rise in costs of raw materials, based on global demand and subsequent tightening of availability, which specifically affects such product components as styrene monomer, methyl methacrylate monomer (MMA), propylene glycol, isophthalic acid, ethylene glycol, dicyclopentadiene(DCPD), titanium dioxide (Ti02), and maleic acid.

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New European Network on Nanostructured Polymers and Nanocomposites

18th June 2004 0 comments

The European Commission recently approved financing of around €6,6 million for the Network of Excellence “”NANOFUN-POLY”” on “Multifunctional Nanostructured Polymers and Nanocomposite Materials”. The Network’s main objective will be to form a European Centre of Excellence in functional and structural polymer-based nanomaterials. It will be run by Prof. Josè M. Kenny from the University of Perugia (Italy), who will coordinate research activities and the spreading and transfer of technology in this important sector of science and materials technology. The Network of polymer-based materials for nanotechnology consists of 29 universities and research centres of current member states of the European Union (Italy, France, Germany, England, Holland, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Czech Republic, Poland, Romania and Slovenia), the United States, China and Argentina and will be institutionally coordinated by the Italian Consortium for Materials Science and Technology (INSTM). The new structure has already received endorsement from the most important European industries in the sector of structural polymer-based nanomaterials as well as in the sector of the most innovative applications: advanced electronics and sensors, energy production (photovoltaic, combustible cells), biomedics, aero-space and transport. The initial project meeting will be held on Friday, 18 June 2004 in Rome in order to kick-start the operative activities. The opportunities that may arise as a result of this European Centre of Excellence are multiple in terms of the possibility of developing new research and industrial projects, visits by foreign researchers, international conferences, technology transfer and the formation of spin-off companies and new educational activities.

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Water-Free GRFP Urinals

18th June 2004 0 comments

Watersave has released Porcelain and Fibreglass urinals that work without flushing.

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Composite Projects to Receive Funding Under US Defence Bill

18th June 2004 0 comments

The US Army Centre of Excellence: Advanced Structures in Composites in Construction project, and the “”Maine Monolite”” project are to receive a total of $4 million investment for 2005. US Congressman Michael H. Michaud disclosed the funding details for 2005 which are part of the Defence Appropriations bill. Specifically, Michaud obtained $2 million for the Army Centre of Excellence and $2 million for the Mobile Thermal Perimeter Surveillance System project. Both projects combined are estimated to create hundreds of jobs in the state of Maine. Michaud said. “”Funding for these types of projects is extremely scarce and very competitive, and I have been working every day to make sure that these projects were given close consideration. The committee has been great about recognizing the potential of these projects and responding.”” Michaud explained that this kind of investment will “help create high-tech manufacturing jobs and support U.S. Army procurement needs. This funding is critical to areas in our state that have been devastated by manufacturing job loss.”” The University of Maine’s proposed U.S. Army Centre of Excellence will focus on addressing the U.S. Army needs in fundamental and applied research related to uses of advanced composite materials and structures in construction. The university plans to use its wood composite technology to potentially build bridges, bunkers, housing, piers and storage facilities that can be carried easily and constructed quickly for military purposes. “”Earlier this month, I toured the Advanced Engineered Wood Composites Centre with United States Army General Paul Kern, the head of Army Material Command, and explained to him the tremendous economic benefit of this centre for our state,”” Michaud said. “”I am so pleased to have secured this funding — it has tremendous potential of being a future economic engine in our state.”” The Centre, by partnering with over 90 Maine composite materials manufacturers, will generate new defence high-tech manufacturing and research and development jobs in the Maine state in the same manner that Bath Iron Works has accomplished through Navy contracts. “”We are very delighted that Congressman Michaud has been able to secure this very important funding for this centre on the House-side, it is the first-step in establishing the centre in the Army budget,”” Dr. Habib J. Dagher, AEWC Director and Professor of Civil Engineering. In April, Monolite Composites of Tualatin, Oregon, announced plans to start a company in Bath known as Maine Monolite to produce raw Monolite, a lightweight, malleable composite material that supposedly can withstand bullets and temperatures of up to 2,850 degrees. The company also planned to start a company in Millinocket, which would fabricate the composite into highly efficient engines and armoured, multipurpose vehicles with military uses. “”The viability of the Monolite material for proposed products as well as the potential market within the U.S. Armed Forces is very encouraging,”” Michaud stated. “”With this potential defence funding, we are one step closer in making this project a reality for our region, an area so hard hit by job loss.””

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Cornerstone Creates New Materials Company

18th June 2004 0 comments

Cornerstone Research Group, a Beavercreek-based research and development company, is to begin a new manufacturing entity. The spinoff, CRG Industries LLC, will manufacture state-of-the-art materials licensed or created by Cornerstone’s research. Among those materials are shape memory polymers and smart composites as well as glassy liquid crystals, syntactic foams and syntactic laminates. Cornerstone said the materials will have consumer, industrial and government uses, such as in flat panel displays, architectural structures and automotive components. Cornerstone has created 23 new jobs and student internships since the beginning of 2004. The company has a number of contracts with Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, including research and development of shape memory polymers for the U.S. Air Force and commercial users. The Cornerstone Research Group Inc. was recently awarded a Department of Defence (DoD) Phase II contract for “Morphing Aircraft Applications of Shape Memory Polymer.” This contract focuses on the application of morphing aircraft technology that was developed in a Phase I contract with CRG for “Adaptive Wing Structures.” CRG is working closely with Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Air Force on this project. CRG is developing an aircraft wing that changes shape in flight to increase aerodynamic efficiency, manoeuvrability, mission capability, and operational range. CRG is using their current smart materials and will seek to create new ones in this process. The work that is being done on this project is laying the groundwork for future morphing aircraft designs and can have many applications in the aerospace industry.

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