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Composites Industry News

News for April 2010


Owens Corning Launches Global Competition for Breakthrough Composite Applications

23rd April 2010 0 comments

Owens Corning has launched a global competition to find new applications for composite materials, announced at the JEC Composites Show in Paris. Composite App Challenge is focused on drawing entrants in four categories to help resolve some of society’s pressing issues: Infrastructure Durability Long-lasting infrastructure is critical to clean drinking water and preventing bridges, streets and buildings from crumbling and having to be replaced. Composites are corrosion resistant and can help build and re-build a more durable, more sustainable future and ensure a positive quality of life. Fuel Efficiency Cars, trucks, trains, planes and ships sip less fuel when they’re lighter. Composites are able to help reduce weight and improve energy efficiency. Renewable Energy Large scale wind energy is not practical without composite materials – and they are key to many other emerging technologies such as wave energy and ocean thermal systems. Protection from Harm Around the world, soldiers’ lives are at risk. Composite materials provide a lightweight shield in the line of fire – either for personal or vehicle protection. Applications today have only just scratched the surface of what these versatile materials can do to save lives. “”Since the commercialization of glass fibers more than 70 years ago, Owens Corning has led the world in developing applications for composite materials,”” said Ashish Diwanji, vice president of innovation for the Owens Corning Composite Solutions Business. “”The world has never been more in need of the corrosion-resistant, energy-efficient, protective properties composites deliver. With this competition we are looking for the next big application to help change the world in the way only composites materials can, and help drive the growth of the industry.”” Key details of the challenge include: US$250,000 in awards – a $200,000 commercial development award for a composite application that can be introduced by the end of 2012, and a total of $50,000 for four composite application ideas that effectively address marketplace needs, appear to be technically feasible and have a perceived market opportunity. One $20,000 award is for anyone and three $10,000 awards are reserved for students. “”As a company, we continually invest millions of dollars globally in innovation to enhance existing products and develop new technologies and solutions,”” added Diwanji. “”This competition is about joining forces with other great thinkers with great ideas, and driving the speed at which composites is transforming the future of the materials market even more quickly. We couldn’t be more excited to see where this competition can help take our industry next.””

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Huntsman adds Fourth Chemistry to Araldite Range

23rd April 2010 0 comments

Due to the increasing need for specialised adhesives, Huntsman Advanced Materials is launching a new range of composite bonders for assembling dissimilar materials, which with the addition of silane modified polymers adds a fourth category to the Araldite range.

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Tooling Prepreg Based on Henkel’s Benzoxazine Resin Technology

23rd April 2010 0 comments

Airtech has introduces its latest development in composite tooling – Beta Prepreg, based on Henkel’s Benzoxazine resin technology. The material is a room temperature storage tooling prepreg, which Airtech say delivers superior laminate properties to conventional epoxy systems. According to Airtech, Beta Prepreg tooling is stable for a minimum of six months at room temperature, has low resin shrinkage during cure and develops a very high glass transition temperature, benefiting users with reduced logistical costs, more flexible workshop scheduling and extended tool life.

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TenCate in Technical Partnership on Orion Spacecraft Heat Shield

23rd April 2010 0 comments

TenCate Advanced Composites has developed a line of ultra-high temperature microcrack resistant prepreg systems that were the basis for materials used in Lockheed Martin’s Orion Spacecraft Heat Shield. As part of the Orion program, TenCate was asked to develop a line of compatible film adhesives, resins, core splices and syntactic products. The Orion project represents one of the larger structural applications for out of autoclave processing and capitalizes on TenCate’s fifteen years of experience in out of autoclave materials for general aviation, UAV, satellite and radome structures. Dr. Frank Lee, Vice President of Technology said “we have worked closely over the last 18 months on this demanding application resulting in the development of materials that can withstand both the rigors of space flight, and the high heat of re-entry. Especially critical in the development effort was the need to provide materials which were optimized for very large scale vacuum bag processing fabrication methods. ” Scott Unger, Group President reports “TenCate has long played a long standing role in high temperature materials for ablative missile components, high temperature military engine ducts and oil & gas applications.” TenCate’s product offerings include BMI’s, polyimides (AFRPE-4) and cyanate ester resins.

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Amber Composites Extends Product Portfolio

23rd April 2010 0 comments

Amber Composites has made two important additions to their product portfolio, with Out-Of-Autoclave and unidirectional prepregs. Multipreg E520 Out-Of-Autoclave component prepreg has been in customer trials over the past few months and Amber says that it has proven to be exceptionally easy to use with excellent surface finish. According to Amber, Multipreg E520 lets designers laminate a variety of components quickly, more efficiently and with no size limitations, while achieving a high quality cosmetic surface finish. Amber Composites has also increased its unidirectional prepreg manufacturing capabilities with the addition of a dedicated UD manufacturing line. The new unidirectional systems are designed to complement Amber’s range of woven systems, and are available in a wide range of fibres and resin systems.

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Automated Fiber Placement System Offered by Mikrosam

23rd April 2010 0 comments

Combining their inter-disciplinary expertise in composites and advanced machine production, Mikrosam has built and proven a concept automated fibre placement machine. Fibre placement has proven itself as a key method of producing advanced composites, the final composite parts being able to fully exploit the special and an–isotropic characteristics of its raw materials due to the freedom that this manufacturing process gives to the designer. Until recently, Mikrosam say that these tools were only available to large defence contractors and big aerospace providers, due to their massive cost, high maintenance and operation fees, and the lack of interest to serve the researchers and the medium-scale producers. Mikrosam say that with their innovative solution, small to medium-scale producers and research institutes can begin to fully exploit their creative composite design capabilities and step-up to a higher level of composite production. All the components necessary to be able to produce a fibre placed composite are provided by Mikrosam in a single package. Fiber placement head The heart of the deposition process is the fibre placement head. It allows on-the-fly cutting, clamping and restarting of every single tow, while maintaining proper temperature difference between the deposition surface and inside the head. The operator is provided with an easy way to access all the areas of the head that need cleaning, and a quick-clean method to replace dirty parts with spare clean ones to maximize the machine’s effective uptime. Offline programming and analysis – MikroPlace MikroPlace provides an environment for the composite part designer to be able to create composite structures using automated fibre placement techniques, and at the end, to generate the actual program to be executed on an AFP machine. The part designer can perform most of the necessary steps in developing an advanced composite part right in the MikroPlace environment, by being able to draw or import the part’s tool, create ply laminates from numerous strategies, analyze and fix production issues, and do custom post-processing modifications of the final layup. MikroPlace has been built from the ground-up with the composite designer in mind, to allow the designer maximum flexibility in developing, simulating and producing the final product. It is well known that composite product creation is a challenging and creative process, one that can also yield great results. Online control and data acquisition – MikroAutomate MikroAutomate is an online control and data acquisition system tailored to the specific needs of fibre placement production. The system has been designed to provide an intuitive interface over the complete production process, localized to the language of choice by the customer.

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Innovative Planet Solar Launched into the Water

23rd April 2010 0 comments

After the official christening of the Turanor Planet Solar the 30m long and 15m wide catamaran was lifted out of the production hall of the HDW ship-yard in Kiel to be launched into the water. The boat is an extremely light carbon-sandwich-design. 20.6t of carbon fibre, 23t of epoxy resin and curing agent and 11,5t of Airex C70 structural foam in various densities. Besides material choice, also the laminate schedule was optimized for lightest weight. The centre hull shell for instance consists of a sandwich of 4mm carbon skins (double bias and unidirectional) and 50mm C70.130 high density core material. Such skin/core thickness ratios combined with high strength and stiffness core material – capable of absorbing the high loads – are the essence of extreme light weight design. What distinguishes the Turanor Planet Solar from other high performance boats can be seen from the bird’s eye view: The deck is covered with photo-voltaic panels – 825 panels by the time all panels will be installed with a sur-face of 536,65sqm and 93,5kW at 18,8% efficiency. The sub-construction for the solar panels is a sandwich made from Airex C70 as well. Raphaël Domjan, project leader and skipper and Gérard d’Aboville, adventurer and also skipper on board will now do first test sailings before the Turanor Planet Solar will start to circumnavigate the world powered only by the sun. The journey will take about 160days with 50,000km to be navigated.

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Vistagy and AGS Deliver Enhanced In-Process Quality Control

23rd April 2010 0 comments

VISTAGY and Assembly Guidance Systems (AGS) have integrated FiberSIM composites engineering software and Automatic Ply Verification (APV). This integration will enable users to quantify and document that hand-laid composites parts have been fabricated correctly. Inspecting each ply during the manufacturing process not only increases part quality, it also reduces costs, decreases cycle times and ensures that finished parts are true to the design. Vistagy’s FiberSIM provides an end-to-end composites engineering solution that supports everything from analysis, design and manufacturing to quality inspection. As part of that solution, FiberSIM automatically generates files from the 3D CAD model that control the laser projection system during ply layup. The enhancement announced today will enable users to simultaneously generate APV files, giving the operator a complete set of manufacturing commands. APV is a feature of the Laserguide laser projection system from Assembly Guidance Systems and is used to direct accurate layup of composite plies. Accepted by the Federal Aviation Administration and Department of Defense for inspection of flight-critical characteristics, APV replaces human inspection with an automated system. As an operator steps through the hand layup sequence with a Laserguide system, APV commands are automatically displayed when a ply inspection is specified. Laserguide projects the position for the operator to place a High Accuracy Manually Positioned Inspector (HAMPI) unit, which can verify material type, ply presence, sequence, location and fiber orientation, and also detect foreign objects. Laserguide will not proceed to the next pattern unless the inspection results fall within manufacturing tolerances. “By integrating APV and FiberSIM we have enabled the computer-generated precision of composite design to control the entire manufacturing process,” said Scott Blake, president of Assembly Guidance Systems. “The manufacturing engineer need only verify the tolerances that will be applied to the layup. That will lead to a less costly and time-consuming process.” “Our solutions are focused on developing standardized, end-to-end processes from conceptual design to final inspection,” said Steve Luby, president and CEO of Vistagy. “APV is an innovative capability that works in conjunction with FiberSIM to enhance the accuracy of the composite layup process, which is a key concern throughout the industry. We’re pleased to be working with Assembly Guidance Systems to help customers overcome this concern by validating that parts are manufactured as they are designed.”

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Fiberforge Deliver Composite Engine Brackets

23rd April 2010 0 comments

Fiberforge Corporation has delivered twenty thermoplastic advanced composite aircraft engine brackets for testing and evaluation by Honeywell Aerospace. These high-performance brackets are 20% lighter than the existing titanium parts while maintaining part stiffness and all existing interfaces. In production, these parts are projected to reduce system cost through weight savings, cost-effective manufacturing using Fiberforge’s proprietary Relay process and a design that establishes a common form factor for use in multiple engine configurations. The engine brackets are structural components that support several engine components, including hoses, cables, and printed circuit boards via integrated captive hardware. Traditionally fabricated from titanium, these replacement brackets are now comprised of carbon fibre reinforced PEEK thermoplastic tape supplied by TenCate. Fiberforge say that the project will break new ground in demonstrating the advantages of thermoplastic advanced composites in extreme vibration and dynamic loading conditions seen in many aviation products. This effort is notable not only for the performance and cost savings of the end product, but also due to the speed of development. In order to be included in first quarter 2010 turbofan engine testing and evaluation, these brackets were designed, fabricated and delivered just twenty-three days after the receipt of order. “This is an exciting program for Fiberforge,” states David Cramer, Fiberforge’s Chief Technology Officer. “Working closely with Honeywell and our suppliers, we are able to demonstrate Fiberforge’s ability to develop, rapidly prototype and manufacture high-performance, high-quality advanced-composite products. This is a landmark application for both Fiberforge and for the thermoplastic advanced composites industry in general. It also demonstrates that these materials offer strong potential for lightweighting in aircraft by replacing steel, aluminium and titanium. Our mission is to help customers capture this lightweighting potential to create a competitive advantage in their products.”

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Strut Profiles Move to Pultruded Polyurethane

23rd April 2010 0 comments

StrutTech of Redmond, Wash., is trading in its traditional pultruded strut channels made of vinyl ester and polyester for a pultruded profile made of polyurethane materials from BaySystems.

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