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Composites Industry News

News for September 2007


DuPont to Invest $500 Million to Increase Kevlar Capacity

23rd September 2007 0 comments

DuPont plans to invest over $500 million in a multi-phase production expansion starting with a Kevlar polymer expansion in Richmond, Va., later this year. For DuPont, this expansion would increase Kevlar capacity by more than 25 percent when complete in 2010 and represents the largest Kevlar expansion since the product was introduced in 1965. Details about additional expansion phases will be announced at a later date. “”Global demand for DuPont Kevlar has soared with the growing need for safety and security worldwide,”” Thomas G. Powell, vice president and general manager – DuPont Advanced Fiber Systems, said. “”In addition, high energy prices have increased demand for the lightweight strength of Kevlar in the aerospace, oil and gas and automotive industries. Our capacity expansion plan is a critical step in growing the Kevlar business, maintaining DuPont leadership in high performance fibres, and delivering the innovation customers expect from DuPont.”” “”This is a significant investment for DuPont and underscores our commitment to sustainability and providing products that improve the safety and protection of people and critical processes around the world,”” Mark P. Vergnano, group vice president – DuPont Safety & Protection, said. “”We are focusing our investment on products like Kevlar® that meet the needs of these multi-billion-dollar growth industries for high-performance, innovative materials.”” Between 2000 and 2006, DuPont completed four Kevlar fibre expansion projects at its Richmond, Va., and Maydown, Northern Ireland, facilities. The latest expansions incorporated a proprietary New Fiber Technology (NFT) developed and patented by DuPont that they say will help meet future market needs. In August 2006, DuPont said that it expected to invest more than $100 million in a three-phase capacity expansion that would raise Nomex fibre and paper capability by approximately 10 percent. The first phase of the Nomex expansion is scheduled to go online later this year.

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Vistagy and ESI Group Expand Partnership

23rd September 2007 0 comments

Vistagy and ESI will expand their technology partnership with the intent of providing aerospace and automotive manufacturers with the most complete virtual 3D engineering environment for designing and analyzing products made of advanced composites.

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FAA Chief of Composites to Speak on Safety & Certification

23rd September 2007 0 comments

Dr. Larry Ilcewicz, FAA Chief Scientific and Technical Advisor for Composite Materials, will be speaking on the topic of “”Composite Safety & Certification Initiatives”” at the Seattle SAMPE dinner on Sept. 25th, 2007. For more details, please view the SAMPE chapter September newsletter at the address below.

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Material Opens New Sales and Engineering Centre in Australia

23rd September 2007 0 comments

To extend its international network of sales and service points, Material S.A., the specialist for engineering and software for composite materials and filament winding technology, has signed a cooperation agreement with Etamax Engineering to become Material’s new engineering centre in Australia. The new site, located in Adelaide, South Australia, will not only service Australia but also the Asia-Pacific region. It will provide installation, training and maintenance services for Material’s well-known software packages: Cadwind, the process simulation system for filament winding, and Composite Star, the database and design software for composites. Furthermore it will offer engineering services for filament winding technology including part and process design, winding program calculation, process optimization, production planning and prototyping. Etamax’s founder, Peter Eagles, has more than ten years of experience working with composite materials and in filament winding technology. He holds bachelor’s degree qualifications from RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia, in both Aerospace Engineering and Business Administration. He has played a key role in developing a wide range of light-weight composite products including multi-hull racing yachts, hydrofoils, masts, external cargo pods for carriage on supersonic military jets and filament wound pressure vessels for aerospace and submarine applications.

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Engineering Professors Win Top Composites Research Awards

23rd September 2007 0 comments

Two University of Delaware researchers have won major awards from the American Society for Composites (ASC). Jack R. Vinson, H. Fletcher Brown Professor Emeritus of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, is the recipient of the 2007 ASC Outstanding Research Award, and Erik T. Thostenson, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, is the winner of the Elsevier Young Composites Researcher Award. The awards were conferred at ASC’s 22nd Annual Technical Conference, held from Sept. 17-19 at the University of Washington in Seattle. The Outstanding Research Award is given annually to “a distinguished member of the composites community who has made a significant impact on the science and technology of composite materials through a sustained research effort over a number of years.” The Elsevier Award, given for the first time in 2007, recognizes “members of the composites community who early in their career have made a significant impact on the science and technology of composite materials through a sustained research effort.” Vinson, who joined the University of Delaware faculty in 1964, is credited with teaching one of the first composites courses in the nation in 1969. In 1974, he became the founding director of the University’s Center for Composite Materials. CCM is now an internationally recognized centre of excellence for composites manufacturing science and technology. Tsu-Wei Chou, Pierre S. du Pont Chair of Engineering, said, “For half a century, Dr. Vinson has made remarkable contributions to advancements in fibre composites, owing to his unique expertise in the mechanics of structures composed of anisotropic materials.” Chou also noted Vinson’s contributions in educating generations of engineering students with advanced degrees who are now engaged in cutting-edge R&D in composites. Vinson spent 10 years in industry before beginning his academic career, doing R&D work at the Aeronautical Research Laboratory of the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the Missile and Space Vehicle Department of General Electric and other companies. At Delaware, his work has focused on structural mechanics of plates and shells, thin-walled structures and sandwich structures. In addition to reporting his research results in more than 220 archival journals and conference papers, Vinson has authored or co-authored seven graduate-level textbooks on structural mechanics and mechanics of composites, which have been extremely well-received by students and researchers all over the world. One of his books, The Behavior of Structures Composed of Composite Materials, recently went into a third printing. An active member of several professional societies, Vinson also has encouraged and facilitated the participation of his students in these organizations. “Besides his innovative ideas in fundamental research,” Chou said, “I have been most impressed by Jack’s energy, dedication and tireless effort in promoting the application of composites technology.” Thostenson, who completed his master’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1999 and his doctorate in materials science and engineering in 2004, both at the University of Delaware, also earned a bachelor’s degree in composite materials engineering from Winona State University in Minnesota. The program is the only undergraduate program in the country focusing on composites. According to Chou, Thostenson’s adviser and mentor, the young researcher’s experience in the field of composites is very diverse, encompassing synthesis and processing of materials, advanced characterization techniques and development of models to predict material behaviour. Thostenson and Chou recently were cited for their discovery of a means to detect and identify damage within advanced composite materials by using a network of tiny carbon nanotubes, which act in much the same manner as human nerves. That work is an outgrowth of research that the pair has been conducting in carbon nanotubes for the past several years. Thostenson’s publications have been cited widely–nearly 750 times as of July 2007. His original work in modeling the elastic properties of carbon nanotube-based composites, published in 2003, has been cited by others 56 times. “That manuscript marked an important step in understanding the mechanical behavior of nanomaterials,” Chou said. “Unlike prior modelling efforts in nanotube-based composites, where atomistic simulations on highly idealized systems had been employed, Erik’s approach adopted mechanics-based models for realistic nanocomposite systems and supported the calculations with careful experimental measurements.” Thostenson has been the recipient of several other prestigious awards, including UD’s 2004 Allan P. Colburn Award for outstanding dissertation in the engineering and mathematical sciences. In addition, he received the inaugural Hayashi Memorial International Award from the Japanese Society of Composite Materials, recognizing outstanding young international researchers in the field of composites, as well as the Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering (SAMPE) Outstanding Ph.D. Student Award. “These awards are particularly significant since they are based on technical merit as judged by others in the field of advanced materials,” Chou said.

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Bone-Growing Nanomaterial Could Improve Orthopaedic Implants

23rd September 2007 0 comments

Bone-forming cells grow faster and produce more calcium on anodized titanium covered in carbon nanotubes compared with plain anodized titanium and the non-anodized version currently used in orthopaedic implants, new Brown University research shows. The work, published in Nanotechnology, uncovers a new material that can be used to make more successful implants. The research also shows tantalizing promise for an all-new device: a “smart” implant that can sense and report on bone growth. For orthopaedic implants to be successful, bone must meld to the metal that these artificial hips, knees and shoulders are made of. A team of Brown University engineers, led by Thomas Webster, has discovered a new material that could significantly increase this success rate. The secret: carbon nanotubes on anodized titanium. The team took titanium – the most popular implant material around – and chemically treated it and applied an electrical current to it. This process, called anodization, creates a pitted coating in the surface of the titanium. Webster and his team packed those pits with a cobalt catalyst and then ran the samples through a chemical process that involved heating them to a scorching 700° C. That caused carbon nanotubes to sprout from each pit. Researchers then placed human osteoblasts, or bone-forming cells, onto the nanotube-covered samples as well as onto samples of plain and anodized titanium. The samples were placed in an incubator. After three weeks, the team found that the bone cells grew twice as fast on the titanium covered in nanotubes. Cells interacting with the nanotubes also made significantly more calcium – the essential ingredient for healthy bones. “What we found is possibly a terrific new material for joint replacement and other implants,” said Webster, associate professor of engineering at Brown. “Right now, bone doesn’t always properly meld to implants. Osteoblasts don’t grow or grow fast enough. Adding carbon nanotubes to anodized titanium appears to encourage that cell growth and function.” Webster’s long-term vision for the new material is ambitious. With it, Webster hopes to create a new class of implants – ones that can sense bone growth then send that information to an external device. Doctors could monitor the output and determine whether to inject growth hormones or otherwise intervene to avoid additional surgery. Right now, implant patients must get an X-ray or undergo a bone scan to monitor bone growth. Webster thinks these “biosensing” implants could even be designed to detect infection and be specially coated to release antibiotics or other drugs into the body. Webster said the biosensing concept would work because when cells make calcium, an electrical current is created. That current can be conducted through carbon nanotubes and transmitted via radio frequency to a handheld device outside the body – a similar process to the one employed by state-of-the-art cardiac pacemakers. “This technology would be incredibly exciting,” Webster said. “It could significantly improve patient health – and cut down on expensive diagnostic tests and surgery. We still have a long way to go to make an intelligent implant a reality, but our new results are a strong first step.” Webster’s Brown research team included engineering graduate student Sirinrath Sirivisoot, the lead author of the Nanotechnology article, engineering graduate students Chang Yao and Xingcheng Xiao and professor of engineering Brian Sheldon. The Coulter Foundation funded the research.

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Towards a United Composites Industry – the Role of EuCIA

23rd September 2007 0 comments

Gertjan de Koning, Business Director at DSM Composite Resins and an active board member of the European Composites Industry Association (EuCIA), talks about EuCIA’s role within the industry and how it can make a difference. Does the European composites industry need an association? “Yes. The composites industry hasn’t done a very good job competing with other materials industries in the last decade. Almost every composites manufacturer is far too busy watching the other market players when our real competitors are the thermoplastics industry and the metals industry. These industries are very well organized and as a result, they’re able to speak as one voice when promoting their interests. EuCIA’s role is to be the voice of the composites industry.” What does EuCIA offer? “EuCIA is the only association that promotes the entire composites industry at a European level. We represent some 15,000 companies and concentrate on three main activities: providing industry platforms that promote business growth, effective lobbying on European legislation and the development of internal and external education programs.” What added value does EuCIA offer? “Industry associations usually play a crucial role in inter-industry competition. EuCIA performs the three key tasks that usually characterize an industry association. We provide a forum to exchange views and create awareness and consensus on topics of common interest. This is crucial to combining forces and aligning activities around industry-wide issues. An obvious example is that we coordinate lobbying activities to influence decision makers involved in policy and legislation. We also create awareness amongst the wider public and promote a positive image of the industry. It’s all about creating favorable conditions for our industry to grow.” How effective has the industry been with these activities in the past? “As I said, not very effective and we deserve better! Composites are amazing materials. They’re lightweight and durable and in many applications they can replace conventional materials like steel, aluminum and wood offering significant financial and environmental benefits. Unlike other materials industries, the composites sector lacks a powerful association with broad industry support promoting industry growth. It’s hard to prove that the absence of a strong industry association has resulted in our lack of success in inter-material competition. But it is clear that the general public, and many design engineers in particular, have very little awareness of composite materials compared to other materials such as metals. Also, when it comes to legislation, other industries have promoted themselves at the expense of composites, for instance by presenting clearer environmental messages. So we have lost some of our competitive edge.” Has no-one spoken up for the composites industry? “There are currently many different composites associations and only about 30 percent of composites producers has joined one or more of them. Both the high level of fragmentation and narrow industry coverage means that these associations are usually small and poor. No single association has the resources to effectively represent the entire industry or even to coordinate with other associations. As a result, each association is conducting its own lobbying activities. There’s no coordination and activities sometimes even contradict each another so we’ve lost some credibility in Brussels.” What is the solution? “The composites industry needs a powerful European industry association. DSM has been pushing for this and found other composite resin producers are of the same opinion. Together we are now actively supporting EuCIA so that it becomes the industry association we need.” How will you achieve this? “Until recently, EuCIA had very low resources and no paid staff. It was completely dependent on the commitment of volunteers. As a result, the organization has had its ups and downs. Composite resin producers have now provided EuCIA with a three-year commitment for the financial resources it needs to afford full-time professional staff.” So what’s the current status of EuCIA? “We now have a new board with a very active chair. We have installed professional and dedicated staff supported by a professional service organization for administration, lobbying, legal advice, accounting and more. We teamed up with a professional communication channel. We’ve clearly defined our scope (fibre reinforced resins) and key tasks: industry education (creating awareness of industry-wide issues and increasing professionalism), coordinating lobbying activities and promoting industry growth. A well-defined program of activities is running and we are well on track. Most importantly, people have noticed the change and more and more composites producers are joining EuCIA. This means that EuCIA is now recognized across the industry as the one voice representing the composites sector on a European level. And the increased support also provides more financial space to achieve our targets. Will this be enough? “It’s all part of transforming ourselves into an organized and professional industry. For Brussels legislators to take us seriously, we cannot afford to have a fragmented approach. We need to speak with a single voice. To be taken seriously by composite users like the demanding automotive OEMs, we need to be a professional and reliable supplier that meets their requirements. To be taken seriously by engineers and designers we need to provide professional tools and training so that they can as easily design with composites as with metals. With the recent changes we have made, EuCIA is in a far better position to do all of this.” EuCIA, the European Composites Industry Association represents the European composites industry with some 15,000 Companies. EuCIA is the voice of the composites industry in Europe and concentrates on three main activities: industry platforms that promote business growth, effective lobbying related to European legislation and the development of internal and external education programs.

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Last Chance to Register for Composites Innovation 2007

23rd September 2007 0 comments

Composites Innovation 2007 will focus on Sustainability and Environmental Performance, with high quality papers on Natural Composites, Recycling and Processing Technologies, as well as keynote presentations by major European and US industry figures. The event will take place on 4th – 5th October 2007 at Barcelona Catalonia Plaza Hotel, Spain with each day holding complimentary sessions on the subjects of Naturally Derived Materials and Recycling and Processing Technologies. As well as speakers from companies and institutions around the globe, the Naturally Derived Materials session will feature a workshop hosted by partners from the European BioComp project. This will be an open discussion assisted by presentations on composite products that are manufactured from bio-derived resins and reinforced by natural fibres, underpinning the theme of the conference and generating debates on this current novel topic. To see the complete programme and register, please visit the website at the link below:

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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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