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Composites Industry News

News for November 2005


Honeywell’s Composite to Armour Sea Knight Helicopters

18th November 2005 0 comments

Honeywell’s Spectra Shield composite material is being used to armour 164 U.S. Marine Corps Sea Knight helicopters. ArmorWorks, a provider of armour technology for U.S. military applications and companies worldwide, is using the material in Light Weight Armor Replacement System (LWARS) kits for the helicopters, which are used by the Marine Corps to provide all-weather, day-or-night transport. “Spectra Shield composite is ideal for this vehicle armouring due to its excellent overall performance,” said Bill Perciballi, president and founder of ArmorWorks. “It boasts outstanding impact resistance, complements other ballistic materials, and easily conforms to the irregular contours of both small and large vehicles.” “ArmorWorks is among the leaders in designing cutting-edge, proven specialty armouring for military and high-performance applications,” said Anne C. Cook, segment leader for Honeywell’s Advanced Fibers and Composites business. “Spectra Shield has answered the call for a wide range of anti- ballistic applications due its inherent strength, durability and lightweight properties.” Spectra Shield is a composite material made with Honeywell’s Spectra fiber, which has the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any synthetic fibre.

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Cincinnati Machine’s VIPER System Produces One-Piece Fuselage

18th November 2005 0 comments

A VIPER 1200 CNC fibre placement system and off-line composite programming system supplied by Cincinnati Machine have been used to successfully produce a one-piece carbon fiber fuselage developed by a consortium of European firms. The fuselage, measuring 4.5m (14.7′) long by 2m (6.5′) at its widest point, was produced in the UK at BAE Systems Ltd., which is the coordinator of the Full-Barrel Composite Fuselage (FUBACOMP) project. FUBACOMP, an Anglo-French-German composites research program, is dedicated to advancing European capabilities in utilizing fibre placement technology. The $13.2 million (EUR 10 million) FUBACOMP research project funded by the European Union’s Fifth Framework program is aimed at reducing airframe mass through the maximum possible use of composite materials. The one-piece, business jet fuselage, designed by Dassault Aviation in conjunction with BAE Systems, was manufactured using preimpregnated carbon fibre slit tape and honeycomb core. Automated fibre placement enables manufacturability of a single-piece fuselage that can replace typical business jet structures made up of many individual components and thousands of fasteners. Cincinnati Machine’s VIPER fibre placement system used in the manufacture of the FUBACOMP structure combines the advantages of tape laying and filament winding with advanced computer control and software. With its 7 axes of motion, the VIPER system is particularly suited to highly contoured structures. High contour, variable wall thickness, and cut-out sections are all produced to near net configuration. Less material is wasted in the initial lay up and post-process machining and material removal operations are reduced. VIPER fiber placement systems are currently applied in the manufacture of single-piece barrel fuselage sections, including multiple VIPER 3000s for Raytheon’s Premiere 1 and Hawker Horizon aircraft and multiple VIPER 6000s for the Boeing 787, as well as the VIPER 1200 used for the FUBACOMP structure. “Producing a single-piece composite fuselage structure not only reduces assembly costs, it can also make the aircraft lighter, more efficient to operate, and less prone to fatigue through the elimination of metallic components,” said Cincinnati Machine’s Ron Hennies, Product Manager for Composites. “Cincinnati Machine is extremely pleased to have provided the advanced fiber placement technology that enabled the FUBACOMP project engineers to meet their goal of producing improved and more cost efficient aircraft components.”

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Morphing Mould Tools

21st November 2005 0 comments

Surface Generation has expanded the capabilities of its Subtractive Pin Tooling (SPTTM) mould manufacturing process to allow the instant morphing of left handed cavities into right handed ones using the company’s new ‘Mirror’ build strategy. This latest innovation means that not only does the reconfigurable SPTTM process lower tooling lead times and costs by up to 90%, but where symmetrical products require opposite mould halves, users’ competitive advantage is even greater. Designed to reduce time to market by as much as 40%, for large products and short run products, the company’s SPTTM process temporarily creates the front face of a tool using square pins which are moved into a near net shape and then machined to the desired contour. This greatly reduces the value added effort required to make tools, and is also doubly effective as after use the bed can simply be reformatted for the next job, allowing organisations to build customised products economically. Surface Generation chief executive Ben Halford explained that: ‘Because of the unique way SPTTM moulds are constructed, it is possible to switch the relative positions of individual pins within an existing tool array. This flexibility allows users’ to apply mathematical transformations to reverse, mirror or invert regions and create partially or fully symmetric moulds in a matter of hours.’ ‘Tool sets which would have previously taken months to produce, are available in days and this greatly enhances the ability of manufacturers to market mass customised goods and crucially produce them only on demand.’ After making significant advances in pressure and thermal stability, the company has also broadened the range of manufacturing processes SPTTM moulds can be used in and as a result is now working with leading OEM’s in Europe and North America developing applications based around its unique technology.

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Composite Oracle Helps SGL Technologies Determine Failure

25th November 2005 0 comments

SGL Technologies GmbH supplies the German Company Medi Bayreuth with carbon fibre struts for prosthetics, the reason for using carbon fibre in prosthetics being the high rigidity and light-weight, which for this application means a better quality of life for the user.

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CBS Homes Plans Affordable Composite Housing

25th November 2005 0 comments

CBS Homes, the developer of patented fibreglass composite exterior support walls, has announced plans to locate a state-of-the-art Construction Technology Campus (CTC) in Florida. James P. Antonic, President and C.E.O. of CBS Homes Florida, will be meeting with state officials and parish governments to unveil his business plan to build affordable and sustainable homes in Louisiana. The CTC will bring together manufacturers of glass, windows, doors, sheeting, and insulation in one location to create a core of parts needed to build homes to a higher standard. These components will flow into the hurricane resistant fibreglass composite wall panels creating economies in construction not available when combining products from a variety of independent and scattered makers. Uniting all the exterior wall component manufacturers at one location will showcase the best methods to mitigate potential disaster damage with sustainable buildings. This integrated process will save time, money, and create a finished house at a lower cost with improved features compared to conventional homes built on-site. According to Mr. Antonic, this one site will synergize research, manufacturing and sales. There is no other site in the United States where manufacturers are located in the same place, he explains. “The CTC can be Louisiana’s response to the devastation of hurricanes Katrina and Rita and produce immediate mitigation in a meaningful way throughout the state. CBS Homes uses pultruded fibreglass composites to create support wall framing for residential and commercial buildings. CBS claims its prices are about 20 percent lower than other structural support methods. The complete framing package, which includes rafters, trusses, joists and wall panels, is stronger, safer, and longer lasting than any other product commercially available in the construction and building industries, according to Mr. Antonic. “These homes are energy efficient, will never rot, have higher resale value, lower insurance rates and lower maintenance costs than homes built with any other type of support framing structures.”

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Lockheed Martin Awarded $2.9 Billion F/A-22 Raptor Lot 5 Production Contract

25th November 2005 0 comments

Lockheed Martin has been awarded a $2.9 billion contract by the U.S. Air Force for continued production of F/A-22 aircraft through November 2007. “”As the Air Force has announced, we have concluded negotiations to produce 24 F/A-22 5th Generation stealth fighter aircraft as previously authorized in the FY-05 Defense Budget. This is great news for the Department of Defense, the U.S. Air Force and the nationwide F/A-22 Raptor team,”” said Larry Lawson, Lockheed Martin executive vice president and F/A-22 program manager. The new Lot 5 production contract will increase the total number of contracted aircraft to 107. To date, 53 aircraft have been delivered to the U.S. Air Force and 66 have completed final assembly. The Air Force is flying the F/A-22 Raptor at four bases across the United States and is preparing for Initial Operational Capability in December. The F/A-22 Raptor is built at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics facilities and also includes 1000 nationwide suppliers and subcontractors in 42 states. Final assembly and initial flight testing of the Raptor occurs at the Marietta plant facilities.

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Eastman Launches Laboratory in Shanghai

25th November 2005 0 comments

Eastman Chemical Company last week inaugurated its China Lab in Shanghai, to support the development of new formulations and performance-enhancing applications for North Asia-based customers. Eastman’s Chief Technology Officer and Senior Vice President Greg O. Nelson unveiled the new facility, the first of its kind in the region, with customer representatives and employees at a grand ribbon cutting ceremony. “The China Lab represents Eastman’s latest commitment to the Chinese market,” said Greg O Nelson. “This strategic investment enables us to introduce our world-class expertise and decades of technical excellence to this dynamic market, for the benefit of our local customers.” The Eastman China Lab is located in the Pudong New Development Area of Shanghai. Scientists and engineers at the Eastman China Lab will partner with local universities, customers and research institutions to provide faster, enhanced technical assistance as well as facilitate strategic or joint development projects and partnerships. “With this newly established technology group, we’ll work to enhance customer satisfaction by providing joint technology development and innovative solutions right here, where our customers are,” said James Dickerson, Eastman’s technology service manager for China. “When they succeed, we succeed.” The lab currently has eight full-time scientists and engineers on staff, and Dickerson anticipates it will grow to support Eastman’s expanding businesses in the North America region.

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15% Annual Growth Forecast for Composite Decking

25th November 2005 0 comments

US demand for decking is projected to advance 2.8 percent per year through 2009 to 5.7 billion board feet, valued at $5.8 billion. The relative stability of the decking market stems from the fact that more than 85 percent of demand is generated through repair and improvement activity. New markets will offer more mixed prospects. These and other trends are presented in Wood & Competitive Decking, a new study from The Freedonia Group. The US decking market has seen a shift in product mix in recent years. In 1994, wood decking materials accounted for 97 percent of volume demand, with only minimal use of alternative decking materials. Between 1994 and 2004, the replacement of natural wood materials with alternative materials accelerated significantly. By 2004, alternative decking materials in the aggregate had acquired eleven percent of the five billion board foot market, posting double-digit gains in most markets over the span. Composite decking will provide the strongest growth opportunities, posting 15 percent annual growth through 2009 to almost 900 million board feet. Demand for composite decking will be fuelled by its high durability and low maintenance requirements, as well as by product advances that provide a more realistic wood appearance. Other alternative decking materials such as plastic and aluminium will also show strong growth, rising nearly eleven percent per year through 2009. Demand for these materials will benefit from many of the same performance characteristics composite materials have. However, these decking materials often provide less favourable aesthetics and a much higher price than composite or wood materials, which often limits use in the key residential market. Despite significant competition from alternative decking materials, wood will remain the dominant material used to produce and repair decks in the US, accounting for 81 percent of total decking demand in 2009. Wood decking will continue to reap the rewards of its good reputation and preference among consumers, builders and contractors, as well as its aesthetic appeal. Pressure-treated wood in particular will continue to benefit from its lower price compared to other woods and alternative decking materials. However, demand for wood decking is forecast to expand only 1.0 percent annually through 2009, a significantly slower pace than the overall decking market.

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Continuous Compression Moulded Profiles for Airbus A340

25th November 2005 0 comments

Continuous compression moulding has been used to produce an aerospace profile for the first time, a profile onto which the cabin interior panels are fixed. The patented production system allowed all the technical target to be met and also achieved a weight reduction of over 50%. ACM Markdorf invested more than two years of development and intensive test series to meet all the requirements from Airbus. It is planned to manufacture more than 9000 meters of profile in 2006, for over 80 aircraft. This new carbon reinforced PEI profile replaces the aluminium profile.

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UltraFlex Honeycomb Core

25th November 2005 0 comments

Ultracor has introduced UltraFlex, a honeycomb core with distinctive cell geometry that allows compound curvatures. UltraFlex is claimed to provide similar or higher mechanical properties compared to hexagonal cores of equivalent density, together with exceptional Formability into compound curvatures. UltraFlex can be tailor made using practically any non-metallic web material and core densities can match existing hexagonal cores.

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