CAMX represents a rare collaboration in the North American composites industry, joining the conference and trade show efforts of the American Composites Manufacturers Association (ACMA) and the Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering (SAMPE). As the composites industry gets ready for CAMX, show organizers caught up with the leaders of each trade group to capture their thoughts on how this event meets the needs of a fast-evolving industry. Q&A with Jay Merrell and Paul Wienhold.
Jay Merrell, of Norplex-Micarta, is chairman of the board of ACMA. He’s been involved in the composites industry for more than 30 years, working in technical development, sales, operations, and administration. He currently serves as chairman of ACMA and has been involved with ACMA committees and its board for almost 10 years. He has Bachelors and Masters degrees from Purdue University.
Paul Wienhold, of Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL), has more than 30 years’ experience in the design, development, fabrication and project management of composite structures and bonded assemblies, working with all types of composite materials, adhesives, and related materials. He has been at JHU/APL for the last 24 years where his work has focused on the application of composites and adhesives to spacecraft, missiles, antennas, and radomes.
CAMX: CAMX 2014 represents the first time that SAMPE and ACMA have cooperated to present a conference and trade show. What does this say about composites fabrication and manufacturing in North America?
J.M.: I think the combination is great for the composites industry because it blends the higher performance materials with higher volume production capabilities. It will generate more exposure for the entire spectrum of materials, applications and processes.
P.W.: The joining of ACMA and SAMPE shows that the high-performance aerospace composites and advanced materials industry seeks lower cost solutions and that the cost-efficient composites industry seeks improved performance.
CAMX: One of the strengths of CAMX is education and learning. What should attendees look for in the conferences to expand their composites knowledge?
J.M.: They should look for cutting-edge information that they can then apply to their own businesses, whether processing- or material-chemistry-related.
P.W.: Attendees in the traditional high-performance composites development business will gain information on low-cost, high-volume composites. Those in the cost-competitive composites businesses will learn about high-performance composites. In addition, our keynote speaker, Kevin Mickey, will enlighten us about how the innovative environment at Scaled Composites has led to its success.
CAMX: Composites manufacturing is, increasingly, an international enterprise. What does CAMX have to offer composites professionals coming from outside of North America?
J.M.: Again, the combination of two large segments of the composite industry, and therefore potential supply and manufacturing crossover.
P.W.: CAMX will have representation from all advanced materials suppliers from North America, as well as global suppliers with a presence in North America. In addition, the latest advanced materials research and development results from North America and worldwide labs will be reported.
CAMX: Many composites professionals are used to attending ACMA’s COMPOSITES show and conference or the SAMPE Annual Conference. What should they look for at CAMX that will make this new event of interest and benefit?
J.M.: Attendees will see the best of both ACMA’s and SAMPE’s traditional shows, it will be like two shows in one.
P.W.: CAMX will be the first very large North American conference and exhibition that will fully encompass the entire composites and advanced materials field from reports of advanced materials development to low-cost commodity materials.
CAMX: Education is not the only focus of CAMX; a big part of the event includes the exhibition. What do you recommend for composites professionals attending CAMX in the interest of pursuing business opportunities and relationships?
J.M.: There are many opportunities to network with other visitors, not only in the educational tracks, and the show floor, but also evening receptions.
P.W.: All aspects of the composites and advanced materials industry will be represented at the CAMX exhibition. We expect a large number of corporate leaders and decision makers in attendance.
CAMX: What composite trends, technologies, fiber and/or resins do you think have the greatest impact on the composites industry today?
J.M.: I think the blending of the high-performance resins and reinforcements with more traditional materials is critical, satisfying the customer’s requirements as cost-effectively as possible.
P.W.: While numerous materials and processing technologies are having a significant impact on our industry now, the next new thing will potentially have a greater impact. One of the main values of our event is that the next big technology in the composites and advanced materials business will be presented there.
CAMX: What are some of the biggest challenges faced by the composites industry today, and how might CAMX help composites professionals overcome these challenges?
P.W. In many case new materials are available to help increase system performance, but the cost of qualification is prohibitive. Collaboration based on agreements made at CAMX between organizations can help solve this problem.