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Composites Industry News

News for May 2006


Boeing 787 Team Reaches 25 Percent Release Milestone

28th May 2006 0 comments

Boeing has reached a major milestone in the design of the all-new 787 Dreamliner, having completed 25 percent of the releases required for the program. This means that one quarter of the pieces of information to build parts and tools for assembly have been completed and released to manufacturing organizations for fabrication or procurement. Releases are the formal documents — digital models in the case of the 787 program — that allow purchases to be made, tools to be developed and parts to be built. “”We have seen tremendous progress by our international partners and the Boeing team working on the detailed design of this airplane,”” said Mike Bair, vice president and general manager of the 787 program. “”Twenty-five percent release signifies that the largest elements – like fuselage and wing skins – are defined from the tooling requirements to the specific raw material elements.”” The composite-bodied 787, scheduled for delivery beginning in 2008, provides passengers with a better flying experience and operators with a more efficient commercial jetliner. Using 20 percent less fuel per passenger than similarly sized airplanes, the 787 is designed for the environment with lower emissions and quieter takeoffs and landings. Inside the airplane, passengers will find cleaner air, bigger windows, more stowage space and improved lighting. To date, 29 airlines have logged 393 orders and commitments worth more than $55 billion at current list prices since the 787 launch in April 2004, making the Dreamliner the most successful commercial airplane launch in history. “”There is still a lot of work to do as we continue to finalize the design,”” said Bair. “”I couldn’t be more proud of our team. They are bringing tremendous energy and expertise to this effort.””

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Super Wide Vacuum Bag and Resin Infusion Connections and Feeders

28th May 2006 0 comments

Airtech has made new additions to their wide range of vacuum bagging products for resin infusion and low temperature composite processing applications. Big Blue L100 Vacuum Bag is a multi-layer film available up to 12m wide and capable of processing temperatures up to 125ºC. Airtech say that its multi-layer construction provides enhanced vacuum security and toughness for large vacuum bags, and that its wide format, temperature performance, toughness and suitability for direct resin contact makes it a perfect choice for resin infusion in marine and wind energy applications. More new introductions from Airtech for resin infusion processing include the RIC Resin infusion connector, VacTrak and ResinTrak products. The RIC Resin Infusion Connector is an inexpensive and reusable through bag connector for resin feed and vacuum manifold connections. The one piece connector provides simple, fast and reliable push fit connection for resin feeder and vacuum tubing in ½”, 5/8” and ¾” diameters. VacTrak and ResinTrak are knitted tapes for resin feeds and vacuum manifold construction. ResinTrak has a high permeability knitted polyester construction and enables laminate surface resin feed with negligible mark-off and easily removal when placed on top of peel ply or perforated release films. VacTrak is a self adhesive version ideal for speedy construction of vacuum manifolds.

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2Phase Technologies Awards University Subcontracts

28th May 2006 0 comments

2Phase Technologies has awarded subcontracts to researchers at the University of Nevada, Reno, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and Center for Composite Materials at the University of Delaware on its $2.0M contract from the US Army Aviation Applied Technology Directorate. This continues 2Phase’s Nevada research team approach to the work begun under AATD sponsorship in 2004. In this final year the project will complete development of Reconfigurable Tooling Systems (RTS) for depot-level repair of US Army rotorcraft and will transfer that technology to the Army repair depots. The repair approach makes use of 2Phase Technologies’ patented state-change materials to provide integrated tooling and process systems. 2Phase formed a development team in the first year of the contract that included researchers from UNR, UNLV and from the Center for Composite Materials at the University of Delaware. Dr. Linda Clements, 2Phase’s Director of Materials R&D, explained the value of the university collaboration. “During the first two years of the contract Prof. Shen-Yi Luo of UNR and Prof. Brendan J. O’Toole of UNLV, and their graduate and undergraduate students, provided us with understanding of our unique tooling materials and systems—understanding that was critical to our development of effective repair systems.” She continued, “We also engaged the help of University of Delaware’s Center for Composite Materials. As an Army Center of Excellence, CCM has been invaluable in offering guidance on Army composite requirements and in transferring this technology to the Nevada universities.” Dr. John Crowley, President and CEO of 2Phase, explained. “The materials work at the universities combined with development by 2Phase will allow the Army to effect high quality repairs that will permit damaged or aging rotorcraft to return to their vital missions much more quickly, even while greatly reducing the cost of repairs.”

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Five Resin Suppliers to Make Price Increases

28th May 2006 0 comments

Reichhold, Interplastic, Cook Composites and Polymers, AOC and Hexion will all be making price increases of $0.03 per pound on resins sold in North America for the composites industry. Reichhold will be making a price increase of $ 0.03 per pound on all unsaturated polyester resins sold in North America for the composites industry, effective for all orders shipped on or after June 15. “This increase has been necessitated by escalation of the costs of key raw materials which comprise unsaturated polyester resins due to increased and sustained crude oil prices as well as tightness of supply for ethylene and propylene and their derivatives as a result of a fire in April at the Huntsman Port Arthur, Texas olefins manufacturing plant,” said Al Naser, Reichhold Vice President of Sales, Composites North America. Cook Composites and Polymers will implement a $0.03 per pound price increase for its gel coat and unsaturated polyester resin products effective on all orders shipped on or after June 19, 2006. According to CCP’s Vice President for Composites, Paul Colonna, “There have been gradual increases in raw materials costs over the past few months that now necessitate a price increase. Materials primarily involved are phthalic acid, diethylene glycol, neopentyl glycol, and styrene. Ongoing increases in transportation, energy, and packaging costs have also reached a level that can no longer be absorbed.” AOC will increase prices by US $0.03 per pound on all products sold in the United States and Canada shipped after June 16, 2006. The Composite Polymers business of Hexion Specialty Chemicals will make a price increase of $0.03 per pound for all Unsaturated Polyester and Vinyl Ester resins, effective for all products shipped on or after, June 19, 2006. Interplastic Corporation’s Thermoset Resins Division is raising the prices of CoREZYN and Silmar brand products $0.03 per found for shipments on or after June 17, 2006. This includes all vinyl ester, polyester, specialty resins, gel coats, colorants, and putties.

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Lockheed Martin Demonstrates Tactical Vehicle Armour

28th May 2006 0 comments

Lockheed Martin has developed and demonstrated a new macro-composite, low-cost tactical vehicle armour that they say promises exceptional performance. According to Lockheed Martin, the Macro-Composite Protection System (MAPS) armour will provide armor-piercing, bullet, fragment/shrapnel and blast protection at a very low cost. The ‘armour-as-a-system’ was developed by Lockheed Martin as a solution to the coupled threat effects often encountered in today’s environments, such as a bomb blast followed by a swarm of projectiles or armour-piercing sniper fire. “”We believe MAPS is a breakthrough in protective technology,”” said David Hunn, director – Mechanical Engineering at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. “”MAPS armour promises to provide an entirely new level of vehicle and personal protection to our forces that could save lives. And it should prove much less expensive than current ceramic armours once in production.”” MAPS armour is undergoing ballistic testing and has successfully shown protection against realistic armour piercing and fragmentation threats with no penetration, at a weight approximately 50 percent less than its equivalent in steel armour protection. Lockheed Martin has briefed the U.S. Army, Navy and Marine Corps on preliminary testing results, and provided MAPS armour samples to the services for independent testing. Results of those tests should be available later this year. MAPS armour is made out of a Lockheed Martin-developed macro-composite material encased in shock-absorbing polymers with a metallic strike face and spall plate.

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ATK Supports Launch of Geostationary Weather Satellite

28th May 2006 0 comments

Alliant Techsystems composite technologies supported Wednesday’s successful launch of the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-N (GOES-N) to an orbit 22,300 miles above the Earth. GOES-N, a joint effort between NASA and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), will monitor atmospheric conditions that act as triggers for severe weather conditions such as tornados, flash floods, hail storms and hurricanes. ATK designed and produced the nozzle for the Delta IV’s RS-68 engine as well as the nozzle’s thermal protection material, capable of shielding it from the extreme heat of launch when external temperatures can exceed 4,000 degrees F. ATK supplied seven key composite structures for the launch vehicle: the thermal shield that houses the RS-68 main engine, the centerbody structure that connects the liquid oxygen and hydrogen tanks of the CBC, the skirt structure that connects the CBC to the vehicle interstage, the interstage that interfaces the 5 meter diameter CBC with the 4 meter diameter upper stage and payload, the payload attach fitting (PAF) and diaphragm (PAFD) that interface the upper stage with the payload, and the payload fairing that houses the spacecraft. The structures, which range from 4 to 5 meters (13.1 to 16.6 ft) in diameter and up to 8 meters (26 feet) in length, are produced using advanced hand layup manufacturing techniques at the company’s manufacturing facility in Iuka, Miss.

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Composites Centers Team to Advance Commercialization

28th May 2006 0 comments

The National Composite Center (NCC) and Composites Innovation Centre (CIC) Manitoba Inc have agreed to collaborate in the development and commercialization of composite materials and process technologies.

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Amiantit Wins Multi-Million Dollar Contracts in South America

30th May 2006 0 comments

Amiantit Group subsidiary manufacturing companies Amitech Argentina and Amitech Brazil are supplying pipe systems for multi-million dollar water infrastructure projects and irrigation networks in their respective countries. The Argentina order, valued at US$ 6 million, is for 53 kilometers of Flowtite glass reinforced polyester (GRP) pipes to transmit water from a treatment plant in the city of Trelew to Puerto Madryn on the Patagonian Coast. Once a small community founded by Welsh settlers, Puerto Madryn, is a sanctuary for maritime fauna, such as penguins, seals and whales, and has experienced a population explosion since has become a popular tourist destination for whale-watching. In addition, Amitech Argentina is currently supplying pipes to west Buenos Aires and to Neuquen Province. The company is well placed to supply pipes for water infrastructure projects in Santa Fe, La Pampa, Cordoba and Chaco regions and to export to neighboring countries. Total orders in hand at present add up to around US$ 13 million and this amount is expected to grow during the year. Amitech Brazil has secured two orders. The first is for 14 kilometers of Flowtite GRP pipes and fittings urgently required for two water pipelines in neighboring Columbia. In order to meet the short deadline, Amitech Brazil will manufacture the pipes and the lamination will be done on site by Amiantit’s Columbian Flowtite licensee, Flowtite Andercol. The contract calls for after sales support which will be shared by the two companies. The second order is for 1 kilometer of Flowtite GRP pipes required by International Paper, a leading paper and pulp manufacturer in Brazil, to transport very acidic and extreme alkaline liquids. To withstand these very aggressive effluents at temperatures of up to 70 degrees centigrade the pipes will have an isophtalic body resin and a vinylester lining. Amitech Brazil is currently supplying pipes to the state of Alagoas and to Indaiatuba municipality. The company is strategically positioned to supply pipes for projects in other regions of Brazil as well as to export to its neighbors. Orders currently on the books stand at approximately US$ 5.3 million and further orders are anticipated in the near future. These orders represent a substantial increase in market share for Amiantit pipe systems in South America and Mexico, where the upsurge in economic growth is enabling governments, municipalities and the private sector to proceed with infrastructure development projects necessitated by population growth and industrial expansion. The image shows Amiantit environment-friendly GRP pipes being laid to transport water to Puerto Madryn in Argentina.

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Antiquated Sewers Get Modern Makeover

30th May 2006 0 comments

Nineteenth Century sewers under the City of Des Moines have been updated with new thermoset composite liners installed by Visu-Sewer Clean & Seal.

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Wood Plastics Composites All Set to Win in Europe

30th May 2006 0 comments

Hackwell Group suggests that annual production growth rates to 2009 will fall just short of ten per cent, rising from its 2005 total of 99,288 tonnes to nearly 145,000 tonnes per year, worth about €290M. The extraordinary growth in sales of products made from mixtures of wood flour and plastics in North America has been the envy of European producers for ten years. The materials contain a good deal of wood filler (typically 40 to 80%) and yet their outdoor durability is more like that of plastics than wood. As a result the relatively high purchase price of WPC articles is offset by low outdoor maintenance costs. Products can be extruded like plastics, without expensive wood working operations, and can be co-extruded or veneered. At last there are signs that the European market is taking off. In their second report on the European market, which comes in both a full standard edition and a much shorter one*, the UK based Hackwell Group highlights the considerable variety of wood plastics composites (WPC) products already available on this side of the Atlantic. Hackwell suggests that annual production growth rates to 2009 will fall just short of ten per cent. By then, European production will have risen from its 2005 total of 99,288 tonnes to nearly 145,000 t/y. This will make the total output worth about €290M. Faster growth is likely to occur if larger companies with more resources enter the market. The automotive industry is easily the biggest user of WPC in Europe at the moment, with well over half the total consumption. The situation is very different elsewhere and vehicles account for as little as 7% of consumption worldwide WPC sales. In future, Hackwell expects a few European automotive supplier companies to be diverted to natural fibres such as flax and hemp. On the other hand there is great scope for growth in WPC sales in construction and furniture. Construction is already the second largest sector after automotive. Although few furniture products are available yet, the number of companies developing furniture components made of WPC is much greater than when Hackwell last reported in 2003, and IPT in Germany has demonstrated the rotational moulding of a WPC chair. Sales are also expected in infrastructure applications (such as highway sound barriers and waterfront fixtures) areas normally made of wood. Injection mouldings of WPC will offer the advantages of a popular natural material and a much reduced dependence on oil-based resin for a wide variety of products. (The most popular resin for WPC in Europe is virgin polypropylene, whereas the global preference is for polyethylene, often recycled. PVC is used by four or five manufacturers in Europe). Leading European WPC manufacturers include Tech-Wood, PPT, Polyplank, Kosche and Deceuninck, among others. There is a growing concentration of producers in German speaking countries. Several European companies offer WPC in pellet form at under €1 per kg. Decking has been far the biggest engine of growth for WPC in the USA and the absence of a strong European decking market has held the WPC industry back. Nevertheless a number of European countries are now showing interest in decking, which had already become the leading WPC product in Europe outside the automotive industry by 2004, as the figure shows. (The Hackwell Report contains data for 2005, and was completed early in 2006). Hackwell finds that the volume of imports of WPC from the US, China, Malaysia and elsewhere is not yet large, and Europe has a small export trade so overall consumption figures for Europe do not differ very much from those for production. It is not yet clear which of many other applications will become firmly established but siding or cladding, fencing and interior construction items are contenders. The WPC window market in the US is being developed but its European equivalent is dominated by PVC and already largely saturated. Improvements in the strength of WPC can be expected over the next two or three years to help its market penetration in a number of areas. Technical standards are being developed for WPC. *The European Wood Plastics Composites Market 2006, Hackwell Group

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