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Composites Industry News

News for November 2010


Delcams 35,000th Customer Uses Robots For Composite Machining

19th November 2010 0 comments

Southern Spars, a New Zealand-based company specialising in the design and construction of spars and rigging for high-performance yachts, has recently become the 35,000th customer to purchase its Delcams CADCAM software. Southern Spars has acquired Delcams PowerMILL CAM system to program robots for the finish machining of spars and other components manufactured from carbon fibre-reinforced composites. Southern Spars built its first carbon-fibre reinforced composite spar in 1990. Since then, the company has pursued a passion for delivering cruising and racing spars, rigging and related components made from composites. Its customers include the holders of more than 25 world sailing records, and the owners of some of the largest and most expensive yachts ever built. Southern Spars operations now extend to the four corners of the world with centres in the USA, Europe, Asia and South Africa, in addition to its headquarters in Auckland, New Zealand. The decision to invest in the Delcam software was made by Stephen Young, a design engineer at Southern Spars with responsibility for the companys CADCAM operations in New Zealand. He had read about the possibility of using robots to machine larger components and felt that this approach could replace the manual methods being used for finishing of the companys composite parts. His initial investigation proved extremely frustrating. We approached a number of suppliers that claimed to offer systems to program robots, Mr Young remembered. However, most of the people we talked to did not actually have any real-world experience. Delcam was the only company that could show us some genuine applications with the technology. Ease of programming was a key requirement for Southern Spars. All of the programming is carried out by the design office in New Zealand, plus it needed to be carried out offline as early as possible in the design process, explained Mr. Young. This meant that the software had to be instinctive and easy to learn. In addition, since practically every part we make has to be custom designed, the programming time had to be kept to a minimum. Delcam say that savings from using robot machining in place of the traditional manual processes are in the range of 70 to 80%. The next stage in the development is to place the robot onto rails so that even Southern Spars biggest components, including a 78 metre mast for a super-yacht, can be machined in a maximum of two sections.

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Kemrock Hindustan Aeronautics to Make Carbon Fiber Prepregs

19th November 2010 0 comments

Kemrock and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to form a joint venture company in India to develop, manufacture and distribute carbon fibre prepregs along for defence and aerospace programmes in India.

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GreenCore Composites Secures Financing for NCell Natural Fibre Composites

19th November 2010 0 comments

GreenCore Composites has secured financing from investment funds controlled by GrowthWorks Commercialization Fund and the Sustainable Chemistry Alliance to continue the development and commercial launch of GreenCores pipeline of NCell natural fibre composites. These composites target the replacement or reduction in use of materials such as glass fibres in structural and semi-structural applications to enhance sustainability, and reduce both energy costs and CO2 output. By successfully raising significant financing, GreenCore is now well capitalized for our growth plans, providing us with the ability to invest in future projects in development and operations, while also giving us the flexibility to accelerate our growth through attractive licensing or partnership opportunities, said Geoff Clarke, President & CEO. The Company is now optimally positioned to continue our strong rate of developing worldclass premium natural fibre products for selected international markets. GreenCore has raised close to $5 million over the past three years. The Company has a manufacturing line located in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada and, as the longer-term product development pipeline is commercially launched, GreenCore will raise additional equity financing to install new capacity. GreenCore is a major Canadian success story in the making, and we are very excited to be a part of it, said Mark Stirling, Vice President of GrowthWorks. GreenCore shows Canadians and the world that we can improve our environment without sacrificing economic prosperity. We are delighted to be working with these specialized funds that have a track record of successfully helping new technologies to be launched in Canada. We are also grateful for the past support and confidence in management from the Ontario BioAuto Council, Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation, First Leaside Group, Tembec Industries and the Ontario Centres of Excellence, said Geoff Clarke.

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Rensselaer Engineers Win First Place at ASME Student Competition

19th November 2010 0 comments

For the second year in a row, a pair of Rensselaer students took first place at the annual Student Manufacturing Design Competition held by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). Mechanical engineering doctoral students Casey Hoffman and Jaron Kuppers won top honours in the national competition last month for their innovative Specialized Elastomeric Tooling (SET) process. The SET process offers a new method for curing advanced composites, which they say is significantly less expensive and requires 500 to 1,000 times less energy than the conventional curing methods. The competition, held in mid-October at the 2010 ASME International Manufacturing Science and Engineering Conference in Erie, Penn., was established in 1995 and is among the leading national manufacturing and design competitions for undergraduate and graduate students. Hoffman and Kuppers presented at the event, and were accompanied by faculty project sponsor Daniel Walczyk, associate professor in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering (MANE) at Rensselaer. “”It’s a large international conference, with students from many other top engineering programs entering the competition, so it’s really exciting to have won first place,”” said Hoffman, who invented the SET process and was also a finalist in the 2010 Lemelson-MIT Rensselaer Student Prize. Born and raised in Kempton, Penn., Hoffman received his bachelor’s degree in physics from Moravian College in Bethlehem, Penn., and his master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Rensselaer. “”The competition was tough, but we worked really hard on our project, and in the end our efforts paid off,”” said Kuppers, who added a computational 3-D modeling aspect to the project, to optimize the shape of molds used in the SET process. Originally from Pikesville, Md., Kuppers received his bachelor’s degree from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and master’s degree from Rensselaer, both in mechanical engineering. Kuppers co-chairs the Student Sustainability Task Force at Rensselaer. The patent-pending SET process put forth by Hoffman and Kuppers replaces the need for autoclaves. The process involves curing a composite laminate by pressing the material between heated, rubber-lined molds. Heating occurs quickly because the composite is in direct contact with the tool. The shape of the rubber mold half is derived computationally using 3-D computer modeling and simulations. According to Rensselaer, the SET process results in up to a 1,000-fold energy savings over an autoclave and eliminates the need for expensive consumable materials that are sent to a landfill after each use. They say that the time required to prepare a composite part for curing in an autoclave is a few hours, while it takes less than 10 minutes to perform the prep on a SET system. “”The ASME Student Manufacturing Design Competition is arguably the most prestigious U.S. competition for undergraduate and graduate students working on manufacturing research and development. The fact that Jaron and Casey placed first and two other student groups were finalists in this competition is evidence that Rensselaer runs a world-class manufacturing program,”” said Walczyk. “”I believe that Rensselaer faculty and students will continue to play a leading role in demonstrating U.S. manufacturing excellence and helping prevent further erosion of manufacturing jobs, especially in the advanced composites arena.””

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Webcore Technologies Receives Funding from DoE and Private Investment Group

19th November 2010 0 comments

WebCore Technologies has been awarded $1,800,000 as part of the Department of Energy’s (DoE’s) Small Business Phase III Xlerator program and closed a $2 million investment with a private investment group. Phase III Xlerator awards help small businesses develop manufacturing processes to scale up production of their new, proven technologies, creating new markets and new jobs. WebCore was selected for its next phase development and commercialization of Tycor W engineered composite core material. WebCores Tycor W technology combines fibre reinforcements, such as E-glass roving or mat, with closed-cell, low density foam in an engineered architecture. The patented core material has been in use for over two years in utility-class wind turbine blades and is undergoing qualification for use with additional 1.5 – 3.0 MW turbines that have blade lengths in the 40 to 60 meter range. WebCore say that the one-inch thick Tycor W saves an average of 0.5 pounds of weight per square foot and reduces resin usage by 0.2 pounds per square foot when compared to one-inch thick balsa wood. WebCore will use the DoE funding to expand production capacity of Tycor W at its Miamisburg, Ohio manufacturing facility and support ongoing development of enhancements to its Tycor technology platform. The $2 million private investment will be used to accelerate domestic and international growth for WebCore and its Tycor technology. The investment allows us to more quickly seize significant opportunities that will position WebCore to become a leading supplier to the wind energy market in the United States, Europe and Asia, said Doug Ventura, CEO of WebCore. Ventura added that the funding comes at a time of rapid evolution for the company which announced a strategic alliance with 3B-the Fiberglass Company for exclusive distribution of its Tycor W core material for utility scale wind blades in Europe and Asia. This funding and the 3B distribution agreement along with resulting sales in Europe and Asia will enable WebCore to invest in equipment, but more importantly, in people, Ventura noted. He added that several new positions in production, sales and executive ranks will be added over the next 18 months.

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3A Composites Launches New Airex T90.210

19th November 2010 0 comments

3A Composites has optimized its raw materials and improved its production technologies and equipment to launch T90.210, which features improved mechanical properties and FST ratings. Airex T90.210 is the successor to Airex T90.240, and 3A Composites say that shear strength, shear elongation and compression modulus have all been improved, whilst reducing the density by 13%. Fire resistance has been improved to achieve the M1/F1 rating according to the French flame, smoke and toxicity norm NF F16-101.

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New Synthetic Mineral Fibres Enhance Polypropylene Performance

19th November 2010 0 comments

The new Hyperform HPR family of reinforcing additives, based on synthetic mineral-based fibres, has been launched by Milliken to enable processors to make high performance polypropylene parts with low weight. Hyperform HPR-803 is intended primarily for the automotive sector, and Milliken plans other future innovations aimed at applications in automotive, appliances and elsewhere. We envisage HPR-803 being used mainly in automotive applications, but are not limiting our project scope, says Adam Watson, in charge of marketing for the Hyperform HPR range. It enables the production of polypropylene compounds that have mechanical performance similar to or better than mineral filled compounds, but at lower weight. HPR-803 fibers have a high aspect ratio of around 40:1. We expect PP compounds containing HPR-803 to replace talc-filled types and possibly other non-PP-based materials too, says Watson. Tests have also demonstrated that HPR-803 works very well in combination with talc, giving processors and end users the opportunity to convert to the new technology in a step-by-step fashion. Hyperform HPR-803 is added at levels typically one third of those required for talc. This means parts will be lighter, by up to 15%, and cars may use less fuel and have lower carbon dioxide emissions. Several projects are underway to demonstrate Hyperform HPR-803. Watson cites development trials with an injection moulded bumper support. Milliken demonstrated that a compound containing nine percent of HPR-803 could deliver 10% weight savings over a 20% talc-filled compound, and still maintain dimensional, stiffness and impact requirements, he says. Milliken say that HPR-803 also enabled the parts to be produced with a shorter cooling time and hence lower overall cycle time, and that test parts demonstrated excellent performance under thermal stability performance testing. According to Milliken, aesthetics are also improved and parts containing the new reinforcing additive exhibit better surface finish and weather resistance than glass fibre reinforced PP parts with similar mechanical properties. Milliken is working with compounders around the world to develop compounds and masterbatches designed for various applications.

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Formula 1 Cars Using TeXtreme Win Championship

19th November 2010 0 comments

The final Formula 1 race of the season took place in Abu Dhabi last weekend, and cars using TeXtreme spread tow carbon fabric were victorious in both the driver and team championships. TeXtreme is a Spread Tow Fabric (STF) used for making ultra light composites, based on Oxeon’s tape weaving technology. A woven material of interlaced spread tows, instead of yarns, displays a reduced number of interstices/openings, which means that there is less accumulation of matrix at the interstices and hence increased fibre volume fraction. The extensive use and results of the Formula 1 teams using TeXtreme confirms the weight savings ability of the material. Formula 1 teams are always looking for the best and for reducing weight TeXtreme is obviously providing great weight saving opportunities says Andreas Martsman, Vice President and head of Business Development at Oxeon. According to Oxeon, the F1 team used TeXtreme for composite body parts and was able to reduce weight by about 20-30%.

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Gurit Wins PET Core Supply Contract for China

19th November 2010 0 comments

As a result of supplying PET core materials manufactured in Europe to a European wind energy customer this year, Gurit has now won a major contract to supply PET structural core materials for wind energy applications in China. Starting in 2011, the two-year contract is worth around 3-5 million Euros. Gurit is currently installing a PET extruder in Tianjin, PR China, in order to manufacture a standard range as well as kitted PET structural core material for the Chinese wind energy market locally in China. The installation of the new equipment, scheduled to be finished before the end of the year, will allow Gurit to produce the same quality and grades of PET core materials in and for China as we are currently producing in Europe, says Rudolf Gerber, General Manager of Wind Energy at Gurit.

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Michigan Companies Work Together on Wind Turbine Blade Automation

19th November 2010 0 comments

KMT Robotic Solutions and Stiles Machinery will supply a wind turbine blade root end cut and drill system to Energetx Composites of Holland, Michigan.

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