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Composites Industry News

News for May 2007


Quickstep Secures Agreement with Eurocopter

29th May 2007 0 comments

Quickstep has taken a step towards the large-scale production of component parts for the global aerospace sector, signing a Cooperation and Development Agreement (CDA) with Eurocopter. The agreement establishes the framework for a long-term collaboration with Eurocopter to investigate, optimise and qualify the manufacture of composites parts for the helicopter giant. In time, the findings from this can be transferred to other members of its parent group EADS. It also follows Quickstep’s announcement in March this year of plans to establish a new testing and manufacturing facility in Germany through a new subsidiary, Quickstep GmbH. At the same time, the Company announced the establishment of a Technology Advisory Board to promote Quickstep’s out-of-autoclave composites manufacturing process to the international aerospace industry. The CDA with Eurocopter represents the first significant outcome of Quickstep’s decision to set up a new global manufacturing and testing facility in Germany. Subject to success with the initial optimisation phase, the agreement lays the foundations for an industrialisation process leading to the commencement of commercial production of aerospace components using the Quickstep Process for a number of helicopter programs during 2008. The CDA follows extensive successful preliminary testing by Eurocopter, which indicated that Quickstep’s fluid-based composites manufacturing technology may improve performance and efficiency in the production of Eurocopter’s structural composite parts. Under the CDA, a new Quickstep-owned QS20 production machine will be deployed inside the EADS group facilities in Ottobrunn, Munich. It also covers a guarantee to supply further QS equipment for production during 2008 and beyond. Quickstep’s Managing Director, Mr Nick Noble, said the agreement with Eurocopter represented the Company’s most significant step to date towards entering the global aerospace parts manufacturing sector, establishing a long-term partnership with one of the world’s most significant aerospace companies. “Preliminary testing by Eurocopter of the Quickstep Process for product performance and improved production efficiencies in aerospace grade components has been very successful, and Eurocopter has indicated its intention to quickly undertake further development work to bring this unique technology to market and become the first global aerospace group to do so,” Mr Noble said. “The collaboration will see the completion of a landmark test work program by Eurocopter which is expected to lead to either a direct manufacturing partnership between Quickstep and Eurocopter for the production of aerospace components, and/or Quickstep’s approval as a qualified manufacturing subcontractor to Eurocopter,” Mr Noble said. Dr Christian Weimer, Head of Production Technologies and Projects Eurocopter, said the new Quickstep Germany Project was designed to achieve technological readiness for the Quickstep Process. “The target is to be ready to apply the process on future aircraft and helicopter programs as soon as possible. After significant research we are convinced of the potential for the Quickstep process to contribute to better performance in our products, and to a higher production efficiency as well as performance improvements” he said. “We intend to expand on the close cooperation with Quickstep to fast-track further basic development work to bring these innovations to the market as rapidly as possible. We want to be first to market with the application of Quickstep’s technology, and we will be working hard to achieve this.” “Based on our own initial test programs, several projects are currently planned and funded. Working with a number of diverse partners, our aim is to further investigate and optimise the Quickstep process in order to be ready to start the industrialisation in 2008,” Dr Weimer added In anticipation of a prompt start-up, senior management personnel, Dr Jens Schlimbach and Dr Amol Ogale, were recruited in January and have completed training in Perth. They returned to Germany during April and they will supervise day-to-day operations, carry out project work and provide expert advice on Eurocopter’s production requirements and tooling specifications. They are also working on finalising the proposed site and preparing the infrastructure requirements for the arrival of the QS20 machine, expected before the end of May.

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Sabic to Acquire GE Plastics for $11.6 Billion

29th May 2007 0 comments

GE and Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) have reached agreement for SABIC to acquire GE Plastics for a purchase price of $11.6 billion. Announcement of the acquisition was made by Jeff Immelt, Chairman and CEO of GE and Mohamed Al-Mady, Vice Chairman and CEO of SABIC. “As a global operating company, SABIC has a long-term, strategic interest in the people, communities, customers, products, plants and technology of GE Plastics,” said Mr. Al-Mady, in making the announcement. “This acquisition represents another important step in SABIC’s growth and diversification to become one of the world’s leading manufacturing companies.” “This business is complementary to our existing business without any overlaps. SABIC’s intention is to grow the business globally”, he added. “SABIC is well-positioned to do this, while adding high-performance plastics to the product range SABIC currently offers to customers.” In earlier deals, SABIC has acquired DSM Petrochemicals business in Europe and the Huntsman Petrochemicals business in the UK. In each case, existing management teams continued to manage the business, and have been given SABIC’s support to implement various investment and growth initiatives. “GE selected SABIC as the winner of this auction both for price as well as the company’s premier position as one the world’s fastest growing, innovative companies,” said Jeff Immelt. “With a strong reputation as a safe, responsible and efficient operator of large, state-of-the-art chemical plants, coupled with a commitment to investment in technology, SABIC is the smart choice to grow the GE Plastics unit.” GE Plastics manufactures and compounds polycarbonate, ABS, SAN, ASA, PPE, PC/ABS, PBT and PEI resins, as well as the LNP line of high-performance specialty compounds.

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Creative and Northstar in Composite Sheet Pile Partnership

29th May 2007 0 comments

Northstar Vinyl Products will become the exclusive marketer of the SuperLoc Composite Sheet Pile System in the US market while Creative Pultrusions will become the exclusive manufacturer of fibreglass sheet pile for Northstar.

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Conforce Receives Trial Order for Highway Trailer Product

29th May 2007 0 comments

Conforce International has received a trial order for its newly developed EKO-FLOR Highway Trailer flooring system from Netherlands-based ATC Houthandel. ATC is a leading manufacturer of wood floors for trailer and closed box-vans in Western Europe. As an extension of its EKO-FLOR composite Container floor product, Conforce has been in development of an EKO-FLOR composite floor product for use in Highway Trailers in both the European and North American markets. Through ATC, the company will enter into road testing in 13.5m (45ft) highway trailers fully equipped with EKO-FLOR. The European road trials are expected to commence in approximately eight weeks and are expected to be completed within thirty days. The Company anticipates that all ISO 1496 load and strength requirements during the trial will be met or exceeded. Conforce estimates that the ATC EKO-FLOR trailer business could generate annual revenues in excess of 5.5 million USD. ATC has been providing trailer flooring for over 30 years to The Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Germany, Austria, Belgium, France, Finland, Norway, and the Czech Republic. Mr. Eduard Heterbrij, Sales Manager for ATC, was quoted as saying, “”For years we have been looking for environmentally friendly, alternative products to hardwood and plywood trailer floors. We have tested several products such as bamboo, plastic, plywood, aluminium, polyester and several composite products, but none have been accepted because of the very heavy pressure loads caused by forklifts and pallet trucks.”” Mr. Heterbrij added, “”We have very high expectations for the EKO-FLOR flooring system and are very pleased to be working in cooperation with Conforce.”” According to Conforce President and CEO Marino Kulas, “”The trailer market is one in which we intend to establish a strong presence. We are currently developing relationships with trailer manufacturers, distributors and end-users and in that regard, we are very pleased to be working closely with ATC for the introduction of our EKO-FLOR Highway Trailer flooring system to the European trailer market.””

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Final Assembly Begins on First Boeing 787 Dreamliner

29th May 2007 0 comments

Final assembly of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner began last week with a ceremony in Everett, Washington. “”Today we begin assembling the first airplane of a new generation,”” said Scott Strode, 787 vice president of Airplane Definition and Production. “”The 787 not only will revolutionize air travel, it represents a new way of building airplanes.”” “”The 787 production system is the culmination of the lessons we’ve learned building previous airplanes,”” said Steve Westby, 787 vice president of Manufacturing and Quality. “”Using composites on the 787 airframe has a number of manufacturing advantages. We are able to build huge structures in just one piece, which means we essentially have six major end items coming together in final assembly — the forward, centre and aft fuselage sections, the wings, the horizontal stabilizer and the vertical fin. “” Since the 787 is assembled from these large assemblies rather than many smaller pieces, traditional monument assembly tools are not necessary. Portable tools, designed with ergonomics in mind, move the assemblies into place. No overhead cranes are used to move airplane structure. “”A composite airframe also means less waste in production and fewer hazardous materials used during the assembly process,”” Westby said. “”This is good news for the environment and for our team of manufacturing technicians building the airplane.””

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Major Capacity Expansion at Diab’s Swedish Plant

29th May 2007 0 comments

Core materials specialist DIAB is midway through a major expansion programme at its Laholm plant in Sweden. This multi-million Euro investment will be completed in the third quarter of 2007, although the company is already reaping the benefits in terms of a significant production increases at the Laholm plant. The end result will be a doubling of foam production capacity compared to 2006. The production expansion in Sweden follows on from a similar ‘capacity doubling exercise’ for its Divinycell H and HP grades at its DeSoto, Texas, USA plant. In addition DIAB has recently established a new facility in DeSoto to manufacture Divinycell F, the new low FST core that has been specially developed for commercial aircraft and train interiors. Other significant investments in the last 12 months have been new kit lines in the USA and China and the decision to open a sales, technical support and finishing operation in Chonburi, Thailand. Commenting on the expansion, Anders Paulsson, CEO of DIAB, said, “The significant investments we have made to increase capacity are driven by a sustained increase in demand for our polymer core materials from all market segments. However, we are undoubtedly seeing the biggest increase in demand from the wind energy industry in Europe, the USA and Asia.”

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