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Composites Industry News

News for September 2007


Two JEC Programmes Pay Tribute to Tomorrow’s Innovations

16th September 2007 0 comments

JEC have announced a call for presentations for the 2008 User Forums and a call for candidates for the 2008 Innovation Awards Programme. Once again this year, the JEC Group is organising top-level user forums during the JEC Composites Show in Paris (April 1-2-3, 2008). Various acknowledged composite experts from each application sector (Marine, Aeronautics, Land Transport, Automotive, Construction, Natural Fibres) come to speak during these meetings, helping to foster dialogue between manufacturers (raw materials suppliers, processors, equipment manufacturers, etc.) and end users. Companies that would like to present an innovation to a large audience can now file their presentation application online at the address below. In addition, next April, the eleventh JEC Innovation Programme will reward the best composite innovations in the following sectors: Aeronautics & Space, Construction, Ground Transport, Energy & Industry, Sports & Leisure, Environment, and Process. Since it was started in 1998, the programme has rewarded more than 78 innovative companies from all over the world, along with their 300 partners. The programme now has many of its own partners and sponsors. Each year, it attracts a large number of candidate companies. The competition is reputed worldwide for the added value it gives manufacturers, and JEC has even been co-organising one in China for the past three years. More are projected for India and other emerging countries in the near future. The objective of the Innovation Programme is to spot, promote, and reward the best composite solutions in terms of technical excellence, chain of partners, market potential, value added for end-users, and originality. These composite solutions will receive wide coverage in the trade press (more than 100 articles every year) and in all JEC Group media. Applications should be sent via their website at the address below. Deadline for both online applications is November 2, 2007.

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LM Glasfiber’s 61.5 Blade Named a Finalist for Danish Industry’s Product Prize 2007

16th September 2007 0 comments

The innovative design of the 61.5-meter blade – the longest on the market today – has earned LM Glasfiber a spot among the five finalists for The Confederation of Danish Industry’s Product Prize 2007. The blade, which pushes the envelope of modern composite engineering, was named as a finalist after a panel of judges reviewed 31 of the best new products in Denmark for this year. The winner will be announced on September 27 at the organization’s Business Summit in Copenhagen with 1,000 Danish business executives in attendance. “It is an honour to be named among the finalists and a privilege to know that DI recognizes all the efforts LM Glasfiber puts into innovated design,” said Steen Broust Nielsen, Corporate Communication Director. “Beyond conception, the first series of blades have been produced and five sets of blades have been installed on turbines in Germany and Scotland. It is with great satisfaction that we know we are advancing renewable energy by taking large scale innovation into manufacturing.” The 61.5 blade design features an impressive rotor diameter of 126 meters, and the three blades cover an area almost the size of two football fields. This is the largest, longest blade in operation, and its cost is optimized through light and stiff large blades. From this area the blades are capable of capturing energy from the wind corresponding to a nominal effect of 5 MW, or the annual power consumption of about 5,000 households. The 61.5 blade will play an especially prominent role in the off-shore market and the growing trend of customers turning to larger, more energy efficient wind turbines. “The 61.5 blade is the key to unlock cost effective use of vast and vital offshore wind resources,” said Steen Broust Nielsen. The image shows the LM 61.5 rotor being fitted to the 5M wind turbine in Brunsbüttel, Germany.

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QinetiQ’s Zephyr UAV Exceeds Official World Record for Longest Duration Unmanned Flight

16th September 2007 0 comments

QinetiQ’s Zephyr carbon fibre High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) has exceeded the official world record time for the longest duration unmanned flight with a 54 hour flight achieved during trials at the US Military’s White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The flight trials were funded through the Ministry of Defence (MOD) research programme. The duration of the flight exceeded the current official FAI world record for unmanned flight which stands at 30 hours 24 minutes set by Northrop Grumman’s RQ-4A Global Hawk on 22 March 2001. However because there was no FAI official present at White Sands it may not stand as an official world record. Launched by hand, Zephyr is an ultra-lightweight carbon-fibre aircraft with a wingspan of up to 18 metres but weighing just 30 kg. By day it flies on solar power generated by amorphous silicon arrays no thicker than sheets of paper that cover the aircraft’s wings. By night it is powered by rechargeable lithium-sulphur batteries that are recharged during the day using solar power. The trials validated recent modifications that have improved the efficiency of Zephyr’s power system. These have included new solar arrays supplied by United Solar Ovonic, a full flight-set of Sion Power batteries as well as a novel solar-charger and bespoke autopilot developed by QinetiQ, all of which were being flown for the first time. During the trials the same aircraft was flown twice while carrying a surveillance payload – first for 54 hours to a maximum altitude of 58,355 feet, and then for 33 hours 43 minutes to a maximum altitude of 52,247 feet. Paul Davey, Zephyr business development director at QinetiQ, said: “The possibilities suggested by unmanned flight are truly exciting and with these trials Zephyr has secured its place in the history of UAV development. Both flights were achieved in the face of thunderstorms and debilitating heat in the hostile environment of the New Mexico high desert in the summertime. They have proved that an autonomous UAV can be operated on solar-electric power for the duration required to support persistent military operations.” Potential applications for Zephyr include earth observation and communications relay in support of a range of defence, security and civil requirements. Zephyr has demonstrated consistent progress during a series of flight trials at White Sands Missile Range. In December 2005 two aircraft achieved a maximum duration of 6 hours and an altitude above 26,000 feet. The maximum flight duration was trebled to 18 hours and the maximum altitude increased to 36,000 feet at subsequent trials at the missile range in July 2006.

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Rapid Vacuum Bag Production – See it Made and Used

17th September 2007 0 comments

Magnum Venus Plastech and Momentive Performance Materials will be running a free seminar on how to rapidly make and use a silicone vacuum bag. Composite part producers are invited to visit the Magnum Venus Plastech facilities on October 24th to watch live demonstrations of silicone bag production by both spray and injection of Silopren* RTV 2025 VBS blue using the Siloject 121 machine from Magnum Venus Plastech.

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World’s First Deep Sea Environmental Platforms Showcased

23rd September 2007 0 comments

The world’s first system to monitor deep-sea marine life in the long-term was unveiled at the University of Aberdeen last week. In a pioneering link up involving industry and leading scientific organisations, two massive environmental monitoring platforms with GRP structures have been constructed for BP for installation on the ocean floor at 1400m depth off Angola. As well as acting as an environmental gauge for BP, these subsea platforms will help unravel many of the mysteries of the deep, observing the activity patterns of unusual creatures, rarely studied before, in their natural environment. World demand and technological advances have prompted the hydrocarbon industry to extend into deeper waters where little is known about environmental impacts on marine animals. Today representatives from industry, the science community and environmental bodies will be shown DELOS – Deep-ocean Environmental Long-term Observatory System – which will significantly contribute to fill that knowledge gap. DELOS will provide information on the deep sea environment over the next 25 years. The platforms – each as heavy as the ocean’s largest living fish, the whale shark, which can weigh in at 12 tonnes – are being placed in BP’s Block 18. One will be sited near field – within 50 metres of a wellhead – and the other five miles from any offshore activity. The second platform will act as a control with data gathered here compared with data gathered near field. Jim Clarke, Project Manager of Local Environmental Impact at BP, said: “”BP has a substantial portfolio of assets in deep water areas which is growing all the time. Technological developments are allowing us to explore in deeper and deeper water. “”However, at the same time, there is limited understanding of impacts beyond the Continental Shelf, both from the industry side as well as within the scientific community. We hope DELOS will go some way to redress that.”” Professor Monty Priede, Director of the University of Aberdeen’s Oceanlab, said: “”I am sure that DELOS will enable us to make fundamental new scientific discoveries about life in the deep sea.”” Novel technologies have been used to create DELOS which has to be robust enough to withstand the enormous pressure that comes from being 1400 metres below the surface. The platforms comprise two parts – a sea floor docking station that remains on the sea floor – and a number of removable observatory modules that are designed to perform specific environmental monitoring functions. The modules have been designed to have sufficient capacity and battery power to function for six months. Remotely operated vehicles will then recover modules from the docking stations and take them to the surface to allow data to be fed to scientists and for servicing of the modules. Dr Phil Bagley of Oceanlab is responsible for the design of DELOS which has been created using non-corrosive glass reinforced plastic, supplied by Exel Composites UK, which has never before been used at these depths and in this way. Over 10,000 super duplex bolts have been used to connect up the components. Dr Bagley said: “”This is an exciting opportunity that builds upon our 20 years of experience of designing and building deep ocean systems for biological research and is a valuable asset to our increasing commercial business. “”Driven by BP’s forward looking approach to environmental issues the long term monitoring platform will provide scientists with insights into any impact of offshore activities, contribute to an increased understanding of the mechanisms linking climate change to deep-ocean ecology, and provide a long term source of data for deep ocean scientific research. “”Oceanlab provided the concept design for the two DELOS monitoring platforms and will supply and develop the instrumentation modules that will record deep ocean environmental and biological data. “”BP as well as providing the initial capital cost for this project will further provide the ROV support to allow periodic servicing of the instrument modules and data distribution to the independent scientific committee.”” DELOS is a collaboration involving BP; the University of Aberdeen’s Oceanlab; National Oceanographic Centre in Southampton; University of Glasgow; Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California; Texas A&M University and the Angolan National Institute of Fisheries Research (Instituto Nacional de Investigação Pesqueira – INIP).

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C-Grid Reinforces Countertops at Salsarita's Fresh Cantinas

23rd September 2007 0 comments

Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina restaurants are now utilizing C-Grid, the carbon fibre reinforcement grid manufactured by Techfab and Altus Group, to reinforce countertops at their restaurant chains all throughout the United States. Solid Designs, a decor concrete manufacturing company in Greenville, S.C., needed stronger concrete countertop slabs designed for shipping, handling and distribution to Salsarita’s. At the bar area inside its restaurants, Salsarita’s wanted stronger countertops and a more aesthetically pleasing countertop surface. Solid Designs created custom-designed C-Grid reinforced countertop solutions for Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina restaurants. The countertops helped Salsarita’s compliment its interior decor with custom-designed countertops that not only looked attractive, but also maintained form and function. By utilizing C-Grid, Solid Designs was able to produce countertops on a faster schedule without worrying about cracking. This accelerated schedule helped Solid Designs increase business and maintain a high production volume of countertops. C-Grid prevented rust and cracking, while increasing ductility in the countertops. Techfab says that the carbon fibre grid is easy to handle and is up to five times stronger than steel by weight.

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Crane Composites Acquires Part of Owens Corning Fabwel

23rd September 2007 0 comments

Crane Composites, a division of Crane Co, has acquired the composite panel business of Owens Corning. The acquired business, a portion of the Fabwel segment of Owens Corning’s Composite Solutions unit, had sales of $40 million in 2006. The Goshen, IN, operation currently supplies quality high gloss fibreglass exterior side wall panel products to the recreational vehicle market and other related industries. In addition, Crane Composites will acquire the related technical centre in Elkhart, IN. “Over the years, this Owens Corning enterprise has built a solid reputation as a quality supplier of table glass products to the RV industry,” stated Jeff Craney, President of Crane Composites. “Crane Composites is very much committed to continuing this tradition.” In addition to the acquisition, Crane Composites has two other locations in the Goshen area that manufactures exterior sidewall panels and facilitates product service and delivery of the Filon and Noble brand products to RV manufacturers. The company has already expanded its field sales and support presence in the area. “We are very excited to have this well respected business join Crane Composites,” said Jack Stambaugh, Vice President of Sales. “This acquisition will bring a number of technological and customer service advantages to the RV industry.” Crane Composites operates five manufacturing facilities in the US and one facility in the UK with warehouses and sales offices throughout the world. Crane Composites’ product lines include Filon, Noble Composites, frpDesign Solutions, Glasbord, Sequentia Structoglas, LascoBoard, Kemlite Transportation Products, and Zenicon Thermoplastics.

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Masterbatch Technology in New Long Fibre Compounds from RTP

23rd September 2007 0 comments

RTP Company’s portfolio has extended to include engineered long fibre thermoplastic (LFT) compounds with the introduction of long cut additives. The long-cut masterbatches are available as cube blends with RTP Company’s line of LFT products. RTP says that separation during handling is minimized because of similar pellet geometry allowing customers to receive superior, economic LFTs. “We are in a unique supply situation because of our ability to formulate and produce long-cut color and additive packages for our LFT business,” confirmed Eric Lee, Business Manager of Structural Materials at RTP Company. “By applying our compounding competencies to long-cut additives for LFTs, we are able to create robust LFT solutions and minimize lead times for our customers.” Traditional LFT suppliers are restricted in how they deliver LFT products containing additives. RTP says that with their masterbatch technology, customers are offered more choices; additives in long-cut masterbatch pellets for dry blending or additives in pre-compounded LFT pellets. “Combining other technologies like custom colors, UV stabilization, wear resistance, or static dissipation with long fibre compounds is an underutilized advantage in the industry today,” said Karl Hoppe, RTP Company’s lead development engineer for Long Fiber Compounds. “With our long-cut additives, customers can now incorporate these technologies at a lower cost compared to traditional LFT compounds.” RTP significantly expanded its LFT global capacity during the past year. A new long fibre facility was opened in 2006 near its Winona, Minnesota headquarters and LFT lines became operational at RTP Company’s facility in Beaune, France. The latest expansion occurred earlier in 2007 when RTP Company added LFT production lines at its Suzhou, China manufacturing facility.

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Composites Polycon 2007 Welcomes Students from Across the Country

23rd September 2007 0 comments

More than 20 universities will be represented next month in Tampa, Fla., at the American Composites Manufacturers Association’s (ACMA) annual trade show and conference, Composites & Polycon 2007. Six universities will be represented in the University Pavilion, located on the trade show floor, and 11 student authors will be in attendance presenting technical papers. Innovation Station participants, researchers and speakers round out the university representation. “It is imperative that we assist the next generation of composites professionals as much as possible,” said John Tickle, ACMA President. “The University Pavilion and the sponsored student authors are an important part of the ACMA conference.” Leading universities and colleges with composites programs, including Auburn University, Florida State University High-Performance Materials Institute, and the University of Maine, The AEWC Center, among others, will participate in this year’s University Pavilion. Student authors received $500 travel stipends to help cover the costs of attending the conference and presenting their research. These sponsorships are generously provided by Colbond Inc., Cook Composites & Polymers, Interplastic Corporation, Molded Fiber Glass Companies, Norac Inc., PPG Industries, Structural Composites, and the ACMA Architectural Division. Composites & Polycon 2007 will be held at the Tampa Convention Center October 17-19.

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New Marketing Communications Company Will Focus on Composites Industry

23rd September 2007 0 comments

Long-time marketing communications professional Phil Bridges has formed Matrix MarCom in Raleigh, NC, a full-service marketing communications company with a focus on serving the composites industry. Initial clients of Matrix MarCom include AOC of Collierville, TN, the American Composites Manufacturers Association (ACMA) of Arlington, VA, IPS Weld-On Adhesives of Durham, NC, Bcomtesting (composites testing) of Wake Forest, NC and Custom Wood Shutters and Blinds of Cary, NC. Matrix MarCom provides services including public relations, advertising, literature development, brand management, media training, employee communications, speech writing, copywriting, newsletter development and trade show programs. The company is servicing local and national companies, trade associations and non-profit organizations. Bridges says that clients of Matrix MarCom will benefit from his rich and varied background across a variety of disciplines and organizations, and that his partnership with multiple design and production firms will allow Matrix to provide clients with all of the services available from large agencies without the usual overhead and additional costs. For over 20 years, Phil Bridges has managed communications programs across a wide variety of businesses and organizations in corporate, governmental, political and agency roles. His career has included work for Reichhold, Inc, FGI Integrated Marketing, North Carolina state government and a successful statewide political campaign. “There are many companies, associations and organizations operating today with a significant need for coordinated marketing communications programs that don’t have the resources to dedicate personnel to this function,” Bridges explains. “That is where Matrix MarCom comes in.” “Because we have extremely low overhead, we’re able to offer comprehensive services to clients at very cost-effective rates,” Bridges says. “Depending on clients’ needs, we offer services from advertising development and public relations to complete marketing communications planning and execution.” “For larger organizations, we work with marketing communications and marketing managers to provide the essential tools necessary for successful, integrated communications programs,” he continues. “The beauty of our business plan is that we can adapt the way we work to meet customers’ needs, not visa versa.” Because of Bridges 12+ years of experience in the composites industry, working with composites industry suppliers, distributors and fabricators will be a focus for Matrix MarCom. “”I’ve worked in the composites industry throughout North America, Europe and Brazil,”” Bridges says. “My choice of the ‘Matrix’ name is meant to reinforce my background in the industry to clients and potential clients,”” he explains. “”I believe this brand will also resonate with non-composites-related organizations.””

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