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Preview of New Applications at the JEC Show

  • Thursday, 23rd March 2006
  • Reading time: about 8 minutes

The JEC Composites Show 2006 runs next week, from March 28-30, at the Paris Expo, Porte de Versailles in Paris, and will include the following highlights, many of which we have reported in recent months. NetComposites will also be exhibiting its own recent developments in self-reinforced and natural composites on stand N29.

Automotive: Carbon-reinforced thermoplastic intake manifold
Diaphorm ManifoldAt the JEC Composites Show 2006, Diaphorm is showing an automotive intake manifold moulded from continuous carbon fibre-reinforced thermoplastic, which opens up new possibilities for more intricate, complex shapes. Made for the Honda H22 engine, this manifold weighs 5 kg less than the stock metal part it replaces and delivers 13 HP more than current aftermarket manifolds. It was made using the Diaphorm moulding process, which features low pressures and inexpensive tooling and machinery. This application demonstrates how part designers can take advantage of advanced lightweight, durable (thermoplastic) materials, ensuring that the part can ultimately be cost effectively manufactured in volume. The manifold line will be marketed under the FiberTuned™ brand name.

Automotive: Polyurethane foam piece of art
 Polyurethane foam piece of artThe FoamPartner Group, which develops, manufactures and processes soft polyurethane speciality foams, is showcasing the Blue Cocoon, a unique piece of art created by the independent Swiss sculptor Marco Ganz. The sculpture conveys the impression of an imaginary land speed record vehicle. Its slim streamlined body boasts an overall length of nearly 9 meters and seems to float in the air, being supported by two wheels only. It pays homage to the legendary Bluebird vehicles designed and driven by Sir Donald Campbell and son Malcolm. The bodywork of the Blue Cocoon is a sandwich construction using carbon fibre/epoxy resin face sheets and a structural, rigid foam core. As the design shows no flat surfaces at all, the designers used FoamPartner’s new polyurethane foam, StructUre, which combines the processing advantages of flexible foam with the mechanical properties of rigid foam. Large sheets of foam, still in the flexible state, were draped onto a wooden tool and passed through a high-energy electron beam, which modified the foam through cross-linking into a rigid state. The solution demonstrated by the Blue Cocoon can be adapted for transportation and general industrial applications. The picture shows the pre-shaped, cross-linked foam core elements for the Blue Cocoon (©2005 ProLitteris / Marco Ganz)

Automotive: Spoiler for high-end vehicles
On its stand at the JEC Composites Show 2006, the Sora Composites Group is exhibiting a spoiler for high-end vehicles. The spoiler was not manufactured using the company’s ICS injection-compression process but with the SMC 2 process, which uses bonded skins to produce high-quality surfaces ideal for high-end cars. Sora Composites, which specialises in industrial composites, is a preferred partner for automotive and industrial manufacturers. The group provides innovative processes through its two subsidiaries, Sotira and SPPP, which can handle all manufacturing steps, from design to final product delivery.

Ground transport & Automotive: Toilet unit for coaches and buses
The Brazilian company MVC Componentes Plásticos Ltda. (Marcopolo Group), which specialises in thermosets and thermoplastics processing, is showcasing three applications on its stand. The first one is a toilet unit for coaches and interstate buses designed to defy road conditions in Brazil while meeting the toughest standards of bus manufacturers. Developed using the RTM Integrated System and RTM Light processes, the toilet integrates several parts into a single unit, offering comfort, durability and aesthetics. This product was initially developed for the bus market but, with small concept variations, it will be suitable for the railway and building market. The second new development is the interior roof for Mitsubishi’s Pajero P45, a coextruded thermoplastic part (PP/nonwoven textiles) for off-road and light vehicles. Finally, MVC is exhibiting a Marcopolo front grid produced by integrated RTM technology. The integrated structure is injected in the same moulding process. The part offers superior temperature and mechanical resistance, as well as excellent structural performance. Compared to conventional RTM, this technology offers two advantages: weight reduction and higher productive efficiency. Picture available

Aeronautics: Exhaust mixer prototype for civil aircraft
Snecma Propulsion Solide (Safran Group), which specialises in solid-propellant rocket motors and thermostructural composites, is showcasing a turbine exhaust mixer prototype designed for CFM 56 civil aircraft engines. This ceramic-matrix composite unit was developed for tomorrow’s aircraft engines, which will have to comply with new environmental standards. This CMC unit is lighter and exhibits higher overall performance than existing metal components. Applications: jet engines for civil aircraft.

Machines: High-stiffness carbon-reinforced tubes
 High-stiffness carbon-reinforced tubesCompoTech has developed a process using the ultra high modulus “Pitch” carbon fibre to produce extremely stiff tubes for almost any machinery application. The tubes are about 2 times stiffer at over 400 GPa, and 4 times lighter than steel, which exponentially improves the dynamic properties of these parts. For example, a CNC machining centre equipped with CompoTech drive shafts and beams can provide the same level of accuracy at twice the speed, or produce twice the accuracy at the current speeds. Advantages: high bending and torsional stiffness properties for greater accuracy, low weight, repeatability, custom shapes and sizes. The tubes can be used in a wide range of applications such as drive shafts, high-speed milling machine beams, high-speed robots and rollers. They should be of interest to machine manufacturers. This picture shows a section of a CompoTech ultra high modulus carbon fibre tube with a square outer and round inner form.

Materials: Corrosion-proof, fire-resistant gratings
Nantong Mincom Composite Materials Co, a manufacturer of chemical-resistant moulded and pultruded fibreglass gratings and profiles, is presenting a choice of grating products: mini-mesh moulded gratings 14 to 38 mm in thickness, heavy-duty gratings more than 60 mm in thickness, phenolic gratings 30 to 50 mm in thickness, phenolic profiles, USCG-98 L2-approved phenolic gratings, translucent gratings and plates for decorative applications. The products are corrosion-proof, fire-resistant, non-magnetic, anti-slip, non-conductive, non-sparking, maintenance-free and lightweight. They are suitable for offshore, chemical, water treatment, architectural and electric insulation applications such as industrial flooring, platforms, walkways, assembly lines, trench covers, stairs, catwalks and pedestrian walkways in a variety of recreational installations.

Materials: Press-moulded composites
Teximpianti S.p.A. is presenting new products based on three different technologies: pultruded parts, press-moulded composites and press-moulded rubber. The pultruded elements are mainly based on carbon fibre and epoxy resin systems. The press-moulded composites, with maximum dimensions of 1.5 x 5.0 m, are produced from prepregs mechanically processed for final applications. The press-moulded composites are intended for applications such as industrial parts, weaving machine elements, sports goods, armouring and impact-resistant parts, dielectric insulation elements, etc. The pultruded components are used for structural building parts, sports goods, industrial elements, pipes, etc. The press-moulded rubber is used to produce rubber ribbons for steel cylinder covering.

Medical: Composite cervical plate
 Composite cervical plate Joining solutions designer and manufacturer Icotec uses the patented Composite Flow Moulding (CFM) process to produce continuous-fibre-reinforced composite elements such as fastening systems, medical implants and other complex shape components. Icotec’s stand at the Jec Composites Show 2006 is displaying a new innovation for the medical industry: the first cervical plate made of continuous-fibre-reinforced composite (traditionally either titanium or steel are used for this type of implant). The implant has reached the evaluation phase and should receive the CE mark and FDA approval by the end of 2006 before being available to surgeons. This composite cervical plate offers a number of advantages: great fatigue resistance that prevents implant breakage, biocompatibility (proven to be safe even for patients with a high allergy risk), radiolucency that makes post-surgical investigations easier without disturbing artefacts, design that is both ergonomic to the patient and surgeon-friendly, flat plate design that prevents disruption of adjacent soft tissue, and smooth hydrophobic surface that prevents soft tissue attachment. The image shows two sizes of icotec’s cervical plate made of endless carbon fibre composite, Nicolás Durán, Erat Design Group, Switzerland

Sports: Stiff and strong braided prepreg for the Six 13 Bike
The bicycle industry is constantly challenged to enhance performance while meeting weight parameters set by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) competitive cycling governing body. The primary objective when developing high-performance race bikes is to optimise the stiffness-to-weight ratio, ensuring that energy from the athlete is not wasted but instead transferred directly to forward momentum. A&P is presenting a new braided carbon prepreg used by Cannondale Bicycle Corporation for the production of customized bicycle tubing on the Six 13 bike. Braided prepreg is used to produce bike frames with optimal torsional stiffness providing stability at high speeds and a more cost-efficient manufacturing process. The Cannondale Six 13 Team bike was chosen by the Italian racing team Lampre Caffita in the European pro Peloton. Braided prepreg creates a seamless, optimized tube. In terms of manufacture, braided materials are easy to use and do not require the cutting of unidirectional prepreg on the bias to create off-axis reinforcement.

JEC Group General Manager Frédérique Mutel commented, “”In the composite industry, innovation is present at each and every stage of the value chain. New-generation resins and fibres use fewer raw materials and are more compliant with regulations. Our engineers are inventing new, robotised manufacturing processes that aim at zero waste; our designers, genuine high-value-added engineering solutions that are created especially for the unique properties of composites. We are way beyond just replacing metals or wood. The composite industry is generating the shapes and structures of the Third Millennium””.

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