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Composites Industry News

News for May 2011


Composite Technical Services Introduces Polycard XFN Bio-Based Polyols

20th May 2011 0 comments

Composite Technical Services (CTS) has introduced Polycard XFN, a new class of bio-based polyols designed to improve the physical properties of applications like bio-based rigid spray foams, sandwich panels and pour-in-place insulation systems. CTS say that Polycard’s polyols exhibit high thermal stability and have also demonstrated the capability to enhance compressive strength, increase fire retardancy and improve dimensional stability. Polycard permits manufacturers to increase the amount of renewable content in end products like foams. CTS developed Polycard with Italian partner Cimteclab to meet the demand for a low-cost renewable resource-based raw material without the supply restraints of conventional polyols or the environmental issues associated with petroleum-based organic compounds. Polycard is made from an aromatic structure or a six-member carbon ring obtained from cashew nutshell liquid (CNSL) using solvent-free technology. CNSL, an abundant agricultural by-product, is considered an industrial waste stream making the material less sensitive to changes in food and oil prices. The flexibility of Polycard’s chemical structure allows the material to be modified into other polyol structures suited to the polyurethane and composite industries.

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Advanced Composites Group Secures US Navy Contract

20th May 2011 0 comments

Advanced Composites Group (ACG) has been awarded $1.967 US million from the United States Navy for research and development efforts in support of its Out-of-Autoclave (OoA) processable materials and technology. ACG explain that their OoA programme “Lightweight Composite Structures phase 3” will continue the work of previous programmes to increase the technology readiness level of a number of OoA capable prepreg materials, including the MTM 45-1 and MTM47 systems, to permit deployment on military and other air and space vehicles. The programme will be administered through Naval Air Systems Command Patuxent River to support advanced fibre placement, process development, the manufacture of demonstrator parts and design database generation.

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PCM Molds and Barrday Join Research & Development Centre

20th May 2011 0 comments

PCM Molds and Patterns and Barrday have recently joined the Canadian Advanced Composites Research & Development Centre bringing its total membership to ten.

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North Dakota Renewable Energy Council Awards Grant for Green Technology

20th May 2011 0 comments

The North Dakota Renewable Energy Council will be providing $200,000 US to fund a two year research project at the North Dakota State University (NDSU). NDSU expect that the research, which is being carried out by a team of their scientists and engineers with the private sector, could result in products to meet market demand for “green” composite building materials. Whilst composites are traditionally made from glass fibres held together with a petrochemical-based binder resin, the research team will develop new types of bio-based binder resins from agricultural products such as soybean oil, cellulose and sugar. NDSU explained that by using various chemical reactions on the agricultural raw materials, a series of candidate resins will be prepared for use in composites, which will then be tested. They will then collaborate with Tecton Products to scale up the most promising resin systems for testing in a production environment. “This type of material could be used in building products to meet a growing demand for ‘green’ composite materials” said Chad Ulven, NDSU Department of Mechanical Engineering Assistant Professor. The resulting product would be expected to have low or no volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Such a product may also have enhanced physical properties, compared to its traditional counterpart. If successful, the composite materials could be commercialized and manufactured with the novel resin being developed with agricultural products.

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MSC Nastran Used to Reduce Weight and Cost of Composite Laminates

20th May 2011 0 comments

Stanford University are engineering a new 2-ply angle composite laminate structure to reduce the weight and cost of composite laminates with the help of simulations done with MSC Nastran. The 2-angle building block is being engineered at the Stanford University with the goal of increasing strength and durability by suppressing matrix cracking and offsetting deformation from shear coupling associated with anisotropic layer. The 4-angle balanced laminate has been the choice of designers for years because of its metal-like behaviour. Bi-angle laminates can have ply stresses engineered to work synergistically. A [0/25] beam has 39% less deflection and more than 30% higher first natural frequency than 4-angle quasi-isotropic laminates. “Through simulations using MSC Nastran, we were able to implement our new approach to design composite structures. Instead of ply-by-ply modelling of a composite laminate, we tried using the smeared properties. We performed analysis and optimisation by using a homogenised anisotropic plate instead of the traditional ply-by-ply model. We discovered that as we increased the number of plies in the Finite Element Method (FEM) model, we were able to proportionally save time and effort,” said Dr. Melih Papila, Stanford University. “Since we envisioned that laminates will have at least 32 plies, we estimate that the use of simulation tools in MSC Nastran will allow us to increase our work rate by about 32 times.” Professor Emeritus Stephen W. Tsai reiterated the importance of MSC Nastran by stating, “Sophisticated simulation features in MSC Nastran will not only help design the best structure, but will more than pay for itself over time, and ensure safety.” “The use of composites is growing at a rapid rate,” said Ken Welch, VP of Product Management at MSC Software. “MSC is pleased to see Stanford’s reliance on MSC Nastran, and will continue supporting research and development initiatives aimed at improving the modelling and simulation of composite materials so product manufacturers can apply new and better design and development methods.”

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Thresher Industries Receives Order for Metal Matrix Composite

20th May 2011 0 comments

Thresher Industries has received a purchase order from an aftermarket automotive company to further develop its ThermaLite metal matrix composite for use as a thermally conductive enclosure. Tom Flessner, Thresher President said, “We are very excited to enter this market. Success in this automotive application will offer us an opportunity to quickly move from this lower volume work to applications in first tier automotive, where these types of enclosures are used in most new vehicles produced in North America and in Europe. “Our ability to provide net shape enclosures that can function as heat sinks for these enclosures is adapted from similar technology used in stealth military applications which have been used to minimize thermal footprints. Reducing under hood temperatures around electrical enclosure will extend the life of sensitive electrical components and demonstrate our material capabilities for use in hybrid and electric vehicles” continued Flessner.

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European Inventor Award Trophy made of Arboform

22nd May 2011 0 comments

This year the European Inventor Award 2011 trophy has been created using Tecnaro’s Arboform, created by mixing lignin with natural fibres.

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Mexico State University Using Chilies to Reinforce Plastic

22nd May 2011 0 comments

Researchers at the New Mexico State University’s (NMSU) Department of Industrial Engineering are looking at ways to combine the chili plant with plastic. Companies use both recycled and virgin plastic to combine with wood products like pallets, furniture waste, recycled oak wood flour, oak and pine from millwork and reclaimed cedar wood chips, among other sources. Over time, researchers have investigated high levels of wood and plastic combinations with functional additives, such as coupling agents, UV stabilizers, antimicrobials and antioxidants. For the last 18 months, Delia Valles-Rosales, Associate Professor in NMSU’s Department of Industrial Engineering, has directed research on the viability of chili plant composites with a team of IE graduate students. The group is collaborating with Stephanie Walker from the Extension Plant Science Department; Paul Bosland in the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences in the College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences; Kenny Stevens in the Department of Engineering Technology; Juan Noveron at the University of Texas at El Paso’s Department of Chemistry; and Biad Chili of Mesilla Park. “We went to Biad and talked to Mr. Don Valles and Mr. Vince Hernandez about the possibility of using chili plants,” Valles-Rosales said. “Biad gets chile from more than 100 farms around the state and eastern Arizona and West Texas. Farmers bring the whole plant and the chilies are dried and separated in the facility, so we can share the plant waste with the farmers who pick some of it up for feed. Our job is to analyze how we’re going to collect these plants and how much it’s going to cost. This could lead to economic development for New Mexico, with mass production of wood-plastic products.” About 60 percent of a mature chili plant’s weight resides in its stems, leaves and roots which are discarded or used as cattle feed post-harvest. The research utilizes these areas for WPCs. The research team is exploring a wide range of composite ratios, and also varying grain sizes, 120, 150 and 600 microns, which range from product that resembles sawdust all the way down to a floury, sandy type of grain. The plastics used in the process also are comprised of recycled material. “We got about 84 samples, about five for each combination, then we conducted the tests,” Halodan said. “We got promising results. Some results exceeded the minimal industry requirements even without any additives added. If we add the coupling agent it’s going to increase quality and durability about 30 to 40 percent, so we’re going to get a good result. The objective is reducing the cost of WPCs while increasing the mechanical physical properties.” The research meets standards set by ASTM International, a globally recognized leader in the development and delivery of international voluntary consensus standards (specifically ASTM D638-9 – Standard practice for tests to evaluate the tension test of plastics and plastics composites). To meet these standards, exact models of each WPC combination had to be manufactured. Students from mechanical and industrial engineering, and M-TEC (Manufacturing, Technology and Engineering Center) designed plastic molds to create the models, and also were involved in using injection-molding machinery to actually fill the molds with the WPC sample. The samples are subject to UV light testing and as many other weather and environmental conditions as possible in a very intense fashion, to replicate years of wear in a matter of months to ensure the composite holds up in comparison to other WPC products, as well as regular plastic and wood products of similar type.

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Brazilian Composites Industry Forecasts Revenue Growth of 8.2% in 2011

23rd May 2011 0 comments

Research commissioned by ABMACO has found that the Brazilian composites industry revenue has grown by 16.3% in the first quarter of this year. The research reported that the industry sold $440 US million in the first quarter of this year, an increase of 16.3% despite the consumption of raw falling 8.7% to 46,900 tons suggesting the difference between the indicators was mainly due to repeated increase in the prices of petrochemical inputs. The study, completed by Maxiquim, also forecasts an increase of 8.2% in the sector’s total revenue in 2011, reaching $1.725 US billion. The consultancy estimates that Brazil will process 214,000 tons of raw materials which is 4.8% higher than the reached in 2010 which they believe will increase the number of jobs by 1.8%, totaling approximately 75 thousand vacancies. “All segments that consume composites materials must grow this year, but we believe that civil construction, wind energy generation and transportation will be responsible for even more expressive indexes”, says Gilmar Lima, ABMACO’s president. Lima highlights the positive impact that the anticipation on the acquisition of trucks and buses will promote in the last quarter of 2011, due to Euro 5 standard, which will come into force in the beginning of 2012 where vehicles adjusted to the new regulation, which controls the emissions of pollutants, are more expensive. “On the other hand, scarcity of qualified workforce in our sector is what concerns us, as well as the uncontrolled increase in prices of main inputs, the overvaluation of Real and the chronic lack of government investment in infrastructure”, he says. The research found that of the 162,000 tons, or 79%, polyester resin composites processed in 2010, civil construction were the highest consumer using 46%. Other consumers were: car manufacturers (16%), corrosion (11%), sanitation (7%), electricity (4%), nautical (3%), petroleum (1%) with others completing the list. Participation in revenues found some changes from 2010, these are: civil construction (37%), transportation (24%), corrosion (15%) and sanitation (8%). The report found that manual technologies (Hand Lay-up and Spray-up) were ahead with 54.8%, followed by RTM (16.1%), Filament Winding (9.8%), Continuous Lamination (6.2%), Pultrusion (4.6%), BMC/SMC (2.8%) and others (5.6%). It was reported that there were 43,000 tons of epoxy composited processed in 2010, total revenue of $353 US million. Of this the wind energy generation held 87.7% followed by the petroleum sector (5.9%), electronics (2.1%) and others (4.3%). The infusion process, which can be employed in wind blade manufacture, was the used mostly by the manufacturers (92.3%). For more Industry reports, please visit the NetComposites Store which can be found here.

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Brammo Gains Track Record Using Amber Composites Prepreg to Drop Weight

31st May 2011 0 comments

The Brammo Empulse, an all-electric motorcycle won both races of the inaugural round of the TTXGP, a zero-emission race at the Infineon Raceway. The Empulse’s fastest lap time at Infineon Raceway was almost two seconds faster than last year’s winning electric bike on the 2.5-mile track. Previous bikes had only used carbon fibre as a cosmetic application but this year Brammo created the seat assembly and tank from Amber Composites 8020 prepreg to significantly reduce the weight of the bike and increase performance. “With the Amber Composites prepreg, we were able to shave 30% off the weight of the assembly versus the previous design,” said Brian Wismann, Director of Product Development at Brammo. “As an added bonus, the surface finish was so straight out of the mould that we didn’t have to clear coat or paint it, saving further weight.” Brammo and Amber have a long working relationship both on the Empulse RR as well as Brammo’s award winning commuter bike, the Enertia.

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