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Composites Industry News

News for January 2006


Ashland Adhesive Bonds BMW Composite Roof

27th January 2006 0 comments

Ashland Specialty Polymers and Adhesives has helped BMW attach a new light-weight carbon fibre reinforced plastic roof to its M3 CSL vehicle. The BMW M3 CSL features a roof made of carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP), which is 6kg (13 pounds) lighter than a conventional steel roof. The key to attaching this roof component relied upon a special adhesive to join the roof to the automobile body frame. After testing a number of adhesives, BMW decided that Ashland SP&A’s Pliogrip structural adhesive, a two-component polyurethane adhesive, provided the best solution. “We’re proud to work with BMW, and to help them bring the M3 CSL to market,” said Hartwig Lohse, Ph.D., European technical manager, transportation for Ashland SP&A group. “Our adhesive technology provided an essential contribution to making this special BMW model a reality.” The image shows BMW employees attaching the carbon fibre reinforced roof to a BMW M3 CSL.

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Gurit Composites Introduce Uniform Operating Structure

27th January 2006 0 comments

As part of the projected division of the Gurit-Heberlein Group into two independent companies, Gurit’s composite operations have been integrated under a new, uniform operational and management structure. In the Advanced Composites sector, Gurit will be known worldwide simply by the name “”Gurit””. The traditional company names SP, IMS, Stesalit and Gurit Suprem will – where they support specific marketing activities – continue to be used in certain segments as brands, yet the individual companies will no longer appear externally. The Group is no longer organized according to the set up of production sites but will now be focusing on three principal, high-potential markets and serve these markets with a complete range of semi-finished products. Wind Energy Gurit Composites will be working to further strengthen its position at the cutting edge of the industry as a leading supplier to the wind power industry worldwide. With its wide product range (glass fibre and carbon fibre prepegs, structural foams, gel coats and resins), Gurit supplies virtually all the major producers in a dynamic market that is expanding rapidly all over the world. Apart from a high-output manufacturing base in Europe and its traditionally close links with Gamesa and Vestas, two European manufacturers of wind power systems, the production facility in North America is also becoming increasingly important. The company recently finalized agreements to supply GE Wind with significant volumes of the structural foam products used to reinforce hollow spaces in the blades of wind generators. These structural foams were initially used in shipbuilding but, as predicted and planned, are rapidly becoming an increasingly important source of income in the wind energy market. The extremely tense situation that existed on the carbon fibre supply market last year has eased slightly, but Gurit is doing everything in its power to increase the reliability of supplies. Aerospace, Automotive and Mass Transportation Advanced composites are also assuming an increasingly important role in the highly diverse transport sector. As in the past, the pioneering industries here remain aeronautics and astronautics, as well as high-end sports cars. Sales to the aeronautics industry are very encouraging. Apart from high levels of production of existing successful aircrafts, the initially delayed production of the new Airbus 380 is now running and leads to a sharp rise in the demand for advanced composites. For the A380, Airbus has certified a total of 17 new products made by Gurit. In future, the company plans to draw on the wealth of experience gathered in all production facilities to open up markets in mass automobile production and the public transport sector. Marine and Sport With a number of major sailing events in the offing, the company’s shipbuilding business is developing well. Here, Gurit has traditionally been one of the leading developers and suppliers of innovative high-end materials. These often carbon fibre based materials are also finding increasing use in the production of high-class serial production yachts. Despite lower volumes in its winter sports business, Gurit managed to maintain its position in a stagnating – and in some areas declining – market. Reorganization and restructuring As part of the decision to focus clearly on the three markets outlined above, Gurit will be reorganizing its purchasing, research and development, and production worldwide. In the next few weeks, certain production facilities will be amalgamated, newly structured and, in some cases, relocated so as to be closer to rapidly growing markets, regions and customers. In North America, particularly, enormous increases in local production and overall sales have been recorded in recent months, and for this reason the company will be further extending its strategically important presence there. The production site in Innsbruck/Austria, which specializes almost exclusively in material used for winter sports applications, will be closed. The foil production will be moved to factories in Switzerland and Germany, the prepreg capacities to North America. In Innsbruck, around 50 people will be affected by the decision; a redundancy scheme is currently being worked out with the works committee. Strategic options for the foil business which is not focused on the above mentioned markets are currently being evaluated.

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Scientists Develop Process for Creating Biocompatible Fibres

27th January 2006 0 comments

Scientists at Virginia Tech have developed a single-step process for creating nonwoven fibrous mats from a small organic molecule, creating a new nanoscale material. This material has potential applications where biocompatible materials are required, such as scaffolds for tissue growth and drug delivery. The research was presented in the Jan. 20 issue of Science, in the article, “”Phospholipid Nonwoven Electrospun Membranes,”” by Matthew G. McKee, a recent Ph.D. graduate in chemical engineering from Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering, now at P&G, current chemistry students John M. Layman and Matthew P. Cashion, and chemistry professor Timothy E. Long, all at Virginia Tech’s College of Science. “”Phospholipids, which are the main component of cell membranes in the human body or in an apple are exquisite in terms of their ability to self-organize,”” said Long. The researchers fabricated this natural compound into a sub micron fibre – 100 times smaller than a human hair. “”It is the first demonstration that electrostatic spinning, or electrospinning, a polymer processing technique, can be used with a small molecule to produce a fibre. “”Clothing fibers such as polyesters and nylons are composed of large molecules, macromolecules,”” Long said. “”Now, we are fabricating fibres from small molecules – ones with a low molecular weight.”” Under the microscope, the resulting mat shows a porous nonwoven structure. The researchers used a commercial product, lecithin, a natural mixture of phospholipids and neutral lipids. The materials will spontaneously organize into cylindrical or worm-like strands to form membranes. McKee studied this self-assembly and conducted rheological experiments to fundamentally understand the association of small molecules, and determined that once phospholipids form an entangled network they can be treated similarly to higher weight molecules and electrospun. The size of the mats is limited only by the amount of material, such as lecithin. “”This represents the synergy of electrospinning, the use of self-organizing molecules, and fundamental research to understand the behaviour of such molecules,”” Long said. “”Matt (McKee) did a terrific job of bringing fundamental learning to a potentially new family of fabrics and membranes.”” Long said that the future opportunities are vast. “”Our research group continues to fabricate molecules that self organize and can be electrospun. Potential applications include drug delivery, that is, a carrier and matrix to control the release of drugs.”” Long’s research group is working with Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine researchers at Virginia Tech to develop a patch for drug delivery for horses. “”We have not yet tested the specific biocompatibility (cytotoxicity) of our fibres, but we have not changed the chemical structure of the phospholipids.”” The research is part of the Army Research Office Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI), which brings together chemistry, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, chemical engineering, and materials science researchers to accelerate discoveries in nanostructured materials.

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Fingerprints Provide Clue to New Nanofibre Fabrication Technique

27th January 2006 0 comments

Fingerprints have given Penn State chemical engineers the crucial clue needed to discover an easy, versatile new method for making nanofibres. The new technique is based on the way forensic scientists develop fingerprints from a crime scene and is said to be easier and more versatile than either of the current methods, templates or electrospinning, used commercially to make nanofibres. It is expected that the new nanofibres will have potential uses in advanced filtration as well as wound care, drug delivery, bioassays and other medical applications The first nanofibres generated by the technique are made from cyanoacrylate, a biologically-compatible material already used in liquid sutures, spheres for drug delivery and in experimental cancer treatment. However, the researchers say that other materials that form solid polymers when nudged by a catalyst could potentially also be used in the process. Henry C. Foley, professor of chemical engineering who directed the project, says, “”The new technique is so versatile that it allows us not only to make nano-scale fibres but also nano-sized flat sheets, spheres and even wrinkled sheets that look tortellini-like.”” The researchers can also generate patterned surfaces and say that the process could conceivably be used in an ink jet printer. Foley explains that forensic scientists develop latent fingerprints via a process known as cyanoacrylate fuming. Fingerprints left on a surface are exposed to fumes of cyanoacrylate, which form a white polymer residue that makes the ridges of the fingerprint visible. One of the researchers, Pratik Mankidy, had accidentally left his fingerprints on a piece of research equipment that had been secured with Super Glue‘ and nanofibers appeared. Putting two and two together, the researchers set out to discover what constituents of fingerprints trigger the cyanoacrylate polymerization on the ridges of fingerprints. They made synthetic fingerprints from a mixture of a known polymer initiator, common table salt in water, and a non-initiator, linoleic acid, found on fingers. Then they exposed the fake prints to cyanoacrylate fuming. Sure enough, they got nanofibres similar to the ones Mankidy’s fingerprints had generated accidentally. They also fumed cyanoacrylate on single initiators and found that sodium hydroxide, potassium hydroxide and potassium acetate produced tortellini-like films of the polymer. When ammonium hydroxide was fumed with cyanoacrylate, it produced nano-sized spheres. The researchers note that the role played by the presence of the non-initiating components in the fingerprint mixture is not completely understood. They are continuing their experiments to understand the process more completely. A majority of the fibres produced by the new process have diameters in the 200-250-nanometer range and are hundreds of microns long. Typically, nanofibres that are currently commercially available are in this same range. Foley notes, “Our findings open up a whole new world of opportunity for control of nanoscale structures through chemistry via catalysis.”

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Solvay Expands its Specialty Polymer Range with Parmax

27th January 2006 0 comments

Solvay has agreed to acquire Mississippi Polymer Technologies (MPT), the US-based start-up company that commercialized Parmax self-reinforced plastics.

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Powertrusion and Creative Pultrusions Enter Agreement

27th January 2006 0 comments

Powertrusion International and Creative Pultrusions (CPI) have entered into an exclusive manufacturing and marketing agreement where CPI will manufacture all of Powertrusion’s fibreglass composite utility and telecommunications products.

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2006 International Sandwich Symposium Announced

27th January 2006 0 comments

The 2006 International Sandwich Symposium will be held in the Grand Hyatt in Seattle, Washington, USA on April 20th, the main theme being Coring Hull Bottoms. This theme was chosen to reflect the fact that more and more boat builders around the world are switching to fully-cored hulls, often in conjunction with a move to closed moulding techniques such as infusion. To review all aspects of the subject the symposium organizers have gathered together an international panel of independent speakers who can talk with authority on design, engineering, process methodology, construction and marketing. The aim is to dispel the myths, examine the benefits, consider the processing options, review actual applications and discuss the marketing advantages of the concept. The Symposium is sponsored by core materials manufacturer DIAB.

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PAM-RTM Makes Composite Hulls for Poncin Yachts

27th January 2006 0 comments

ESI Group’s PAM-RTM simulation software has been chosen by Poncin Yachts, a French boat manufacturer to support its programme of resin transfer moulding and vacuum infusion for making composite hulls and decks.

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CCM Provides Boeing Employees Hands-on Training

27th January 2006 0 comments

With support from the University of Delaware’s Engineering Outreach Program, their Center for Composite Materials (CCM) created a series of courses for Boeing’s Philadelphia-area aerospace engineers and technicians. In 2004, CCM produced COMP 101, which focused on the basics of composites manufacturing and included tours of the centre’s laboratories. Based on the success of the first course, Boeing officials requested a more advanced class. COMP 201 was offered in 2005. Hands-on training included infusion of a CH-47 working platform On two consecutive Saturdays in November, 17 Boeing employees completed the 15-hour, hands-on course. “I think it’s most impressive that these people came here for training on the weekends,” says Dirk Heider, Assistant Director for Technology at CCM and Research Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “The fact that they used their free time to take the course really demonstrates their motivation to learn about composites.” Heider also notes that most of those who took COMP 101 last year returned for the follow-on course. Plans are now underway for a third-year class, and input from former participants is being considered in planning for its content and format. Participants in COMP 201 used the College of Engineering ‘s eCALCII facility to model the infusion of a composite beam with the LIMS (Liquid Injection Molding Simulation) software. They then carried that knowledge forward to facilities in CCM’s Composites Manufacturing Science Laboratory, where they infused a part. The subsequent week-long break enabled CCM lab personnel to break the parts so that the participants could carry out destructive testing in Spencer Laboratory during the second session the following week. The hands-on facet of the course was very popular and very effective, according to Heider and confirmed by participants. “I liked how the instruction was complemented with lab work,” said one. “The labs were great,” said another. “Hands-on was by far the biggest advantage,” said a third, who was new to working with composites and plans to use the knowledge in future design work and applications. In addition to the destructive testing of the simple composite beam, Day 2 included a session during which participants made an actual part for the Boeing CH47 helicopter. “This will be a production part made by one of Boeing’s suppliers via the VARTM process,” Heider says. “Our use of a rapid prototyping program enabled the Boeing employees to make a section of the complex part using VARTM in two hours,” he continues. “Many of them had been involved in the design of the part at Boeing, and the work done here during the class allowed them to see how it actually infused. They had had extensive experience with prepregging but not with liquid molding processes.” One participant said that he plans on using LIMS to verify vendor suggestions for gate and vent locations. “The feedback has been outstanding,” says Kathleen C. Werrell, Assistant Dean for Engineering Outreach, “to the extent that Boeing is asking us to create another course, plus offer this one for those who could not participate this time.” Werrell credits Patrick Hailstone with promoting the course at Boeing. “He has really been our Boeing in-house marketing person, spreading the word among his colleagues, making sure they register, and getting their HR department to approve the course,” she says. To date, all of the participants have been from Boeing’s Philadelphia plant. However, according to John Lyons, a manager at Boeing and a member of UD’s Engineering Outreach Advisory Committee, there is a lot of interest in the composites courses provided by CCM outside the Boeing-Philadelphia area. “CCM and Engineering Outreach have done an outstanding job providing Boeing with a unique training opportunity that helps bridge the gap between design theory and practical use for composites,” says Lyons . “I’m looking forward to working with them to figure out a way to make the courses available to other Boeing sites.” Heider sees another positive fallout from the courses: “Some of the Boeing engineers in Philadelphia have expressed an interest in working with us to apply the VARTM process to their other parts. We’ve demonstrated to them that we have a unique capability, and a new relationship is being formed as a result of that. Boeing management realizes that the company can benefit from not only our educational offerings but also our technology.” Boeing’s Lyons concurs. “ Our interest in CCM’s capabilities has increased dramatically over the past year,” he says. “This course is just one example of how Boeing and the University can work together to solve industry challenges in composites.”

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Step Towards Self-Healing Structures

27th January 2006 0 comments

Thanks to a new study funded by ESA’s General Studies Programme, and carried out by the Department of Aerospace Engineering, University of Bristol, UK, engineers have taken a step towards self-healing composite structures. “”When we cut ourselves we don’t have to glue ourselves back together, instead we have a self-healing mechanism. Our blood hardens to form a protective seal for new skin to form underneath,”” says Dr Christopher Semprimoschnig, a materials scientist at ESA’s European Space Technology Research Centre (ESTEC) in the Netherlands, who oversaw the study. He imagined such cuts as analogous to the ‘wear-and-tear’ suffered by spacecraft. Extremes of temperature can cause small cracks to open in the superstructure, as can impacts by micrometeroids – small dust grains travelling at remarkable speeds of several kilometres per second. Over the lifetime of a mission the cracks build up, weakening the spacecraft until a catastrophic failure becomes inevitable. The challenge for Semprimoschnig was to replicate the human process of healing small cracks before they can open up into anything more serious. He and the team at Bristol did it by replacing a few percent of the fibres running through a resinous composite material, similar to that used to make spacecraft components, with hollow fibres just 30 micrometres in diameter containing adhesive materials. To make the material self-repairable, the hollow fibres had to be made of an easily breakable substance: glass. “”When damage occurs, the fibres must break easily otherwise they cannot release the liquids to fill the cracks and perform the repair,”” says Semprimoschnig. In humans, the air chemically reacts with the blood, hardening it. In the airless environment of space, alternate mechanical veins have to be filled with liquid resin and a special hardener that leak out and mix when the fibres are broken. Both must be runny enough to fill the cracks quickly and harden before it evaporates. “”We have taken the first step but there is at least a decade to go before this technology finds its way onto a spacecraft,”” says Semprimoschnig, who believes that larger scale tests are now needed. The promise of self-healing spacecraft opens up the possibility of longer duration missions. The benefits are two-fold. Firstly, doubling the lifetime of a spacecraft in orbit around Earth would roughly halve the cost of the mission. Secondly, doubling spacecraft lifetimes means that mission planners could contemplate missions to far-away destinations in the Solar System that are currently too risky.

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