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Composites Industry News

News for May 2007


Primus International Acquires St Bernard Composites

20th May 2007 0 comments

Primus International, the global Tier II supplier of aircraft structures, has acquired St Bernard Composites Limited. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Primus’s CEO Jim Hoover said, “St Bernard represents a highly strategic acquisition for Primus. The addition of composite technology is consistent with Primus’s strategy to offer a complete manufacturing and assembly solution for our customers. We will benefit from St Bernard’s strong customer relationships and experienced, entrepreneurial management team that has a history of growth, innovation and financial achievement.” Jim Hoover continued, “Primus’s strategy is to grow aggressively while diversifying its end customers, content, platforms and geographic scope. We will now be uniquely positioned to offer metallic and composite subsystems, kits and assemblies. St Bernard’s European presence and diversified customer base will strengthen and expand Primus’s relationships with OEMs and key Tier I customers.” St Bernard’s Chief Executive Officer John Merritt said, “St Bernard brings clear market and product synergies to Primus and will enable the combined company to provide a more comprehensive set of product solutions to our customers.”

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Pilgrim International Celebrates Fifth Year in Business

20th May 2007 0 comments

May 2007 marks Pilgrim International’s fifth year of full production as one of the fastest growing recreational vehicle manufacturers in North America. In May of 2002 the company shipped its first three fifth wheels from its Middlebury, Indiana manufacturing facility. The company has grown from $9 million in sales in its first year to over $135 million annually. In May of 2007 Pilgrim International estimates it will surpass 35,000 recreational vehicles produced in just five years. Today Pilgrim International moves towards its current projected capacity of $250 million for 2008/2009. During this time the company has grown from one to three manufacturing facilities in Middlebury, Indiana. It has up-fitted and equipped its facilities with the latest in vacuum-bonded lamination processes to bring the highest quality products to market. Pilgrim innovations also include its TuffGloss technology–a high-performance, gel-coat composite lamination technology that replaces conventional FRP. President and Partner, Steve Bennett put the timetable in perspective, “In February of 2002 Pilgrim International was incorporated. By May of 2002 we shipped our first three Open Road fifth wheels,” said Bennett. “We started with the Open Road fifth wheel as our first product line.” Ironically, the Open Road line, the luxury flagship of the company today, began as a lower price point unit. Jerry Sell, vice president of sales and marketing, helped to articulate the evolution of the Open Road product line. “What started as an entry-level product evolved into a luxury model. Originally, it was a fully laminated fibreglass unit that was targeted as close as possible to the price that a wood framed aluminium sided unit was selling for. The market drove its evolution into the company’s top-of-the-line offering,” stated Sell. Jerry Sell went on to explain the dramatic impact of the move to vacuum bonded lamination. “Instead of continuing with the standard pinch-roll process that most manufacturers stay with because it is less expensive, Pilgrim International made the commitment to do it right. This is one of the key components that make Pilgrim unique. Our laminated products are all vacuum bonded. This sets us apart from our competition,” said Sell. In October of 2006 the company began offering its exclusive TuffGloss lamination technology at the lamination headquarters in Middlebury, Indiana. “Lighter, harder, easier to repair, and virtually the same cost as fibreglass reinforced plastic (FRP), TuffGloss provided our dealers with a distinct advantage offering the look of high-gloss gel coat reserved for heavier, higher priced products,” explained Doug Lantz. “Our goal over the next number of years is to attempt to change the way products are built to improve the product and the processes. One of the biggest problems we have today in the industry is both the material content within the unit and the way we put them together. We are in the process of trying to change these fundamental elements,” founder Dave Hoefer stated. “We’re headed in the direction to utilize composite materials. We’re not going to be the only ones out there, but today, fortunately, we have a scientific group that is working with our industry to bring our products to a much higher level of attention by those in the composite industry. We’re always going to strive to be the innovators. Whether we will be the most innovative, I’m not sure, but we’re going out there with the best in the industry,” he concluded.

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GKN Aerospace Gains Aft Transition Development on Sikorsky CH-53K

20th May 2007 0 comments

GKN Aerospace has been awarded a System Design & Development (SDD) contract for the Fuselage Aft Transition for the US Marine Corps’ next generation Heavy Lift aircraft, the Sikorsky CH-53K. The Aft-Cabin Transition section includes the cargo ramp and overhead door. During SDD, GKN Aerospace is contracted to deliver 7 development ship sets to Sikorsky between 2009 and 2012. Design, development and production work on these contracts will be carried out at GKN Aerospace’s St Louis, Missouri facility, and the Engineering Design Center in Nashville, Tennessee. Full production of 156 ship sets is anticipated to commence in 2013 and continue through 2022. GKN Aerospace will use the latest design and manufacturing technologies to incorporate a number of high performance emerging materials and advanced manufacturing methods, including automated fibre placement (ATP), automated trim and drill and digital inspection, all aimed at achieving CH-53K program weight, durability and affordability objectives. Jay Fitzsimmons, President and CEO of GKN Aerospace, Aerostructures, North America comments: “GKN Aerospace is very proud to be a part of the CH-53K Team. We look forward to working closely with Sikorsky on the advanced CH-53K helicopter which will utilize GKN Aerospace’s engineering design capabilities and core composite technologies to advance the aircraft performance. The CH-53K is at the epicentre of our rotorcraft strategy”.

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AEWC Recognized for Outstanding Use of Wood

20th May 2007 0 comments

The Northeastern Loggers’ Association (NELA) recently honoured the UMaine Advanced Engineered Wood Composites Center of Orono, ME as the recipient of its 2007 Outstanding Use of Wood award. NELA President John Caveney honoured the AEWC centre at the Annual Loggers’ Banquet in Bangor, ME in a ceremony attended by over 300 members of the Northeast’s forest products community. “”Paper, lumber, and energy are some of the traditional uses for the forest resource here in Maine and throughout the northeast”” Caveney told the assemble crowd in his comments. “”But over the past sixteen years the University of Maine’s AEWC centre has been working hard to develop new uses for our precious resource. The AEWC centre is a globally recognized leader in composites research and development, and their research often leads to the commercial development of next generation, cost-effective, high-performance, wood and nonwood composite materials.”” “”The work they are doing at the centre is truly groundbreaking”” Caveney continued, “”and it’s really beyond my capabilities to describe it. However, I think it’s enough to say that for every new use for pulpwood, for every development that upgrades the structural performance of a wood-based product, for every new commercial use for wood that the centre develops — that’s another reason for a logger to get up in the morning and to get out into the woods.”” “”Truly, the centre’s goal to actively pursue commercialization, entrepreneurship, and job creation in Maine and beyond provides us a good reason to be optimistic about the wood industry. For this reason, we’re proud to recognize the University of Maine’s Advanced Engineered Wood Composites Center as this year’s recipient of our Outstanding Use of Wood award”” Caveney concluded. The AEWC Center’s Director Professor Habib Dagher was present to accept the award. The Northeastern Loggers’ Association is a trade group representing over 2,000 members of the Northeast’s logging, sawmilling, and paper industry.

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Penn Physicists Develop Carbon Nanotube Aerogel

23rd May 2007 0 comments

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have created low-density aerogels made from carbon nanotubes, CNTs, that are capable of supporting 8,000 times their own weight. The new material also combines the strength and ultra-light, heat-insulating properties of aerogels with the electrical conductivity of nanotubes. Aerogels are novel, low-density materials created by replacing the liquid component of a gel with gas and are normally constructed from silicon dioxide or other organic polymers. They are currently used as ultra-light structural materials, radiation detectors and thermal insulators. Aerogels made from CNTs offer advantages to current aerogels that point towards future applications in chemical or biological sensors. A collaboration led by Arjun G. Yodh and Jay Kikkawa of the department of Physics and Astronomy at Penn created the aerogels by freeze-drying or critical-point-drying CNT networks suspended in fluid. The process produces a carbon nanotube network whose carbon concentration, electrical conductivity and strength can be manipulated. Critical-point-drying demonstrated reproducible conductivity in the aerogels. The team also maintained control of the density, microscopic structure and shape of the CNT aerogels, as well as their strength. By adding small amounts of polyvinyl alcohol during processing, very strong aerogels were created. The nanotube dispersion process was optimized to create an even distribution of nanotubes within the aerogel. The study was conducted by Yodh, Kikkawa, Mateusz B. Bryning, Daniel E. Milkie and Lawrence A. Hough of Penn’s Department of Physics and Astronomy and Mohammad F. Islam of the Department of Chemical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. The research was supported by the National Science Foundation.

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Aurora Celebrates Opening of Mississippi Composites Manufacturing Facility

29th May 2007 0 comments

Aurora Flight Sciences Corporation has celebrated the Grand Opening of the Aurora Flight Sciences of Mississippi (AMS) manufacturing plant located at the Golden Triangle Regional Airport, Columbus, MS. On hand to mark the opening of Aurora’s newest facility were Rep. Roger F. Wicker (R-MS) and Rep. Charles “Chip” Pickering (R-MS) representing Mississippi’s First and Third District, respectively, in the U.S. House of Representatives. Also speaking at the event were Columbus native Kenneth E. Miller, Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force, Dr. John S. Langford, president and chief executive officer of Aurora Flight Sciences, and Greg Stewart, General Manager of the corporation’s Mississippi operations. As keynote speaker Rep. Wicker said “”the opening of this facility signals another giant step in Aurora Flight Sciences’ strong partnership with our region and strengthens the commitment we have made to bring high-tech manufacturing opportunities to Mississippi. Aurora is already right at home in the Golden Triangle, and I look forward to continuing to support its efforts to create jobs and enhance our national security.”” The AMS operation fabricates composite aerostructures. AMS currently provides airframe design, assembly and integration of the high performance Orion HALL (High Altitude, Long Loiter) hydrogen powered Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) and other Aurora unmanned aircraft, including the GoldenEye 50 and GoldenEye 80. Manned aircraft work at the Mississippi operation will include the Advanced Composite Cargo Aircraft (ACCA) and some parts for the Sikorsky Aircraft CH-53K heavy lift helicopter. The facility includes clean rooms, climate-controlled material storage and all other items necessary for high-quality composite aerostructures fabrication. Employees are currently fabricating the tools and part molds needed to create the individual pieces of the Orion HALL composite airframe, along with fabricating the first parts. “I am continually impressed with the quality of the people we are hiring here in Mississippi. They are hard workers who pick up composite aircraft fabrication skills quickly,” said Greg Stewart. Kenneth Miller said he was “delighted to be part of a history making event,” while noting that the Air Force recently awarded one of two research contracts to Aurora to look at composite aircraft technologies for application in the military transport arena. “Companies like Aurora are critical to the future of this country and also more specifically, to Mississippi,” he added. Dr. Langford said “Aurora will be in Columbus for the long haul, contributing to the local economy and to the nation’s defence.”

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Saint-Gobain Vetrotex Increases European Capacity of TWINTEX by 25%

29th May 2007 0 comments

Saint-Gobain Reinforcement & Composites has increased its European production capacity for Twintex by 25% at its Chambery plant, as of April 2007. This latest investment in Europe follows an increasing market demand for the now well-established Twintex product range in various industries and all over the world. Latest Twintex developments include the new Twintex pellets. This is a new type of highly concentrated long fibre reinforced pellet dedicated to LFT (Long Fibre Thermoplastic) structural component manufacturing, which are said to improve customers’ productivity and provide excellent mechanical properties. Successful applications and customer partnerships cover all industries: energy with LPG gas bottles, solar panels, aeronautics with air cargo containers, sports & leisure with catamarans, and the automotive sector with door modules, front ends, truck bodies, etc. Twintex is based on commingled unidirectional thermoplastic and glass fibres, to solve the problem of impregnating continuous glass fibres with thermoplastic resins at a low cost.

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ACMA Releases 2006 Composites Industry Report

29th May 2007 0 comments

The latest statistics on the U.S. and international composites industry and end use markets are now available in the American Composites Manufacturers Association’s (ACMA) 2006 Composites Industry Report.

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Filament Winding and Fibre Placement Workshop at SAMPE 2007

29th May 2007 0 comments

Filament winding specialist Material will hold a filament winding and fibre placement tutorial workshop at the 52nd International SAMPE Symposium and Exhibition in Baltimore, Maryland, next Monday, June 4, 2007. The half-day tutorial workshop will be held on invitation of the Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering (SAMPE). It will compare the filament winding process and the fibre placement process, and will show applications and explain in detail the use of machinery and software. With this event Material continues its series of conferences and workshops such as the Filament Winding conventions held in 1998, 2001 and 2005 in Brussels, Belgium, and the Filament Winding Workshop at ICERP 2006 in Chennai, India.

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Delcam to Show Latest in CADCAM for Composites at SAMPE Exhibition

29th May 2007 0 comments

Delcam will demonstrate the latest developments in its CADCAM systems for the composites industry at the SAMPE exhibition to be held in Baltimore from 3rd to 6th June. New features on display will include improved methods for the generation of 2D patterns for prepregs from 3D models of components, more efficient nesting to ensure the most economic use of materials cut from sheet and an increased range of five-axis machining methods, both for the manufacture of patterns and tooling and also for the trimming and drilling of moulded parts. The Delcam demonstrations will be supported by machining demonstrations on the stand of machine tool supplier CMS. Delcam and CMS have worked closely together to deliver manufacturing solutions to their joint customers and have enjoyed particular success in the boatbuilding industry. While Delcam’s software is best known for its applications with injection moulded plastics products, it is also used for the design, manufacture and inspection of composites. Delcam say that the software enables companies to maximise their profitability by increasing productivity, improving quality and reducing lead times. Applications include the manufacture of composite components for the autosport and luxury car industries, the production of aerospace lay-up tools, and the machining of patterns and tooling for compression moulding and reaction injection moulding. The methods for the generation of 2D patterns from 3D CAD models within Delcam’s PowerSHAPE CAD system are based on un-wrapping techniques first developed for the footwear industry to allow the cutting of leather shapes from shoe designs. They provide methods for the creation of the prepreg designs needed for the manufacture of complex, curved shapes. The 2D patterns can then be arranged to give the most cost-effective use of material with powerful nesting functionality. The range of five-axis machining methods in Delcam’s PowerMILL CAM software gives the user better control over cutting conditions as well as helping to minimise excessive movement of the machine head that can reduce machining rates. Five-axis drilling has also been improved to give faster drilling and more comprehensive hole recognition from a wider range of CAD systems.

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