Briefs: October 2015

News briefs from Renishaw, Airbus and GS Composite

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Renishaw (Gloucestershire, UK) recently marked a major growth milestone with the opening of its new 14, 214m2 Innovation Center in the UK. The US$31 million facility, located at the company head- quarters near Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire, was formally opened in July. The additional space will house R&D and corporate services staff, as well as demonstration, training and conference facilities, and enable relocation of Renishaw’s spectroscopy and laser calibration product lines to the site. The Center’s investment program also encompassed the opening of a new R&D operation at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia, as well as other new construction in the UK.

Airbus (Toulouse, France) inaugurated in Mobile, AL, US, on Sept. 14 its first-ever US manufacturing facility. The plant, which assembles the family of A319s, A320s and A321s, is officially open for business, with a team of more than 250 Airbus manufactur- ing employees now at work on the first U.S.-made Airbus aircraft. Airbus announced plans for the $600 million facility in 2012, and construction began at the Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley the following year. The first U.S.-made Airbus commercial aircraft, an A321, is scheduled for delivery in early 2016. By 2018, the facility is expected to produce 40-50 single-aisle aircraft per year. Airbus’ market forecast indicates a demand over the next 20 years (directed to all manufacturers) for some 4,700 single-aisle aircraft in North America alone. 

Russia-based investment/holding company GS Group has launched GS Composite, a pilot production plant for wood-plastic composites (WPC) in Ulyanovsk, Russian Federation. Its flagship products, granulated wood-plastic composites and finished products are made by extrusion and injection molding. Nominal WPC pellet output is 500 kg/hr. The plant will be the first in Russia to produce composites with a significant proportion of polyethylene terephthalate (PET). WPC pellets using PET will feature the higher strength, elasticity, moisture resistance, UV-stability and decay- resistance necessary for packaging, construction and furniture parts, along with elements of construction formwork. Pilot plant capacity is reportedly as high as 2,150 metric tonnes of finished products per year. Developed in the GS Group in-house laboratory, based on the Russian academy of sciences A.N. Frumkin Institute of Physical Chemistry and Electrochemistry RAS (IPCE RAS) in Moscow, the GS Composite process will use sawdust from local woodworking companies as raw material, and in future, will recycle waste from the GS Group’s Sudoma sawmill in the Pskov region. Reportedly, the Russian WPC market is near 20,000 metric tonnes per year and growing at 8-9% per year, with more than 40% of products imported. Moreover, this growth is expected to continue. Therefore, by 2020, annual consumption of WPC in Russia could exceed 30,000 metric tonnes. Given the project’s potential, GS Composite expects to reduce industry’s dependence on imports.