JEC Composites 2006 Product Showcase - 7/1/2006

Advanced composites continue to lead the economic upswing in the composites industry.

Anticipating an increased number of exhibitors and visitor traffic for 2006, the 2006 JEC Composites Show, held from March 28-30, expanded its footprint again this year at the Paris Expo in Porte de Versailles, Paris, France. Exhibit space was increased by 1,000m2 (10,764 ft2) to accommodate wider aisles and additional stands. JEC reports that there was an increase in the number of exhibiting composites processors from Northern Europe, Germany, Great Britain and France. Composites manufacturers, in fact, accounted for 30 percent of the total number, while suppliers of raw materials were there in equal numbers. The remaining 40 percent comprised equipment manufacturers, distributors, service providers, associations, institutes and universities.

Suppliers in aerospace/defense arenas and other industries in which advanced composites are competing for traditional metals markets told HPC that business continues strong. That strength was evidenced on the show floor. HPC staffers discovered that visitors had an abundance of recently introduced products and services from which to choose, from resins, fibers and prepregs to dust extraction and vibration damping technologies. The following is a representative sampling of what was available:

Advanced Composites Group Ltd. (ACG, Heanor, Derbyshire, U.K.) spotlighted its £7 million/$13 million (USD) expansion to its Heanor facility. The 30,000 ft2 (2,787m2) Technology Centre will house the company's resin formulation, testing, process engineering and other R&D functions. In addition, the package includes major investments in new resin mixing and prepregging equipment. ACG also announced agreements with Advanced Composite Technology Ltd. (Auckland, New Zealand) and Duly Corp. (Seoul, Korea) to represent ACG in their respective regions. advanced-composites.gocomp.biz/28

Aerovac Systems (Keighley, West Yorkshire, U.K.) and U.S. distributor Richmond Aircraft Products Inc. (Norwalk, Calif.) presented six new vacuum bagging products: A2200, a low-cost, flexible release film, is colored orange to permit the resin front to be monitored during infusion; VACFILM nylon bagging films in seamless 10.5m/413-inch widths for low-temperature and autoclave curing; SM 5113 sealant tapes remove easily after cure and handle temperatures from ambient to 232°C/450°F; SM 5142 tapes work in oven or autoclave to 205°C/401°F; AB40N60 heavyweight 100 percent nylon 6.6 breathers made from needled fabric for high-temperature/high-pressure autoclave processing; Intensiflex intensifiers (for caul plates, filler for thread borings and protection against bag bridging); VMS160A barrier media, which impede resin migration while permitting full vacuum to be maintained; and RVCS sealing systems, similar to existing VCS (Vacuum Cavity Seal), but with greater frame flexibility, lightness and ease of handling, for low-temperature vacuum applications in oven cured parts. aerovac.gocomp.biz/3, richmondaircraft.gocomp.biz/12

Airtech Europe SA (Differdange, Luxembourg) announced plans for a new 1,000m2 (10,764 ft2) office building and acquisition of more production equipment (e.g., an extruder and an autoclave). The company also premiered four new products: Securlon L 500 and Big Blue L-100 super-wide vacuum bagging films (to 12m/39.4 ft width); WL 3900, an inexpensive, superwide (to 4.5m/14.8 ft) perforated release film; Securlon L-2000, the company's heaviest, sturdiest bagging film; and a Resin Infusion Starter Kit with an instructional DVD. airtech.gocomp.biz/35

Alcan Composites Core Materials (Sins, Switzerland and Northvale, N.J.) showed its AIREX, BALTEK and KAPA core brands. Sales of the company's new polyethylene terephthalate (PET) AIREX T90 foam core material, introduced last year, have prompted additional production capacity, which will come online by 2007. T90, available in a range of densities, allows fabricators to combine different core densities in one sandwich structure to optimize properties. Also new: BALTEK Gold, is a balsa wood core treated to prevent decay. Currently being tested in Hawaii, the Gold product comes with an extended performance warranty. alcanairex.gocomp.biz/10

Assembly Guidance Systems (Chelmsford, Mass.) introduced its Universal Laserguide, a wireless and targetless multitasking laser system. The fully portable unit is radio frequency (RF) controlled, and therefore needs no umbilical to attach it to other equipment. It employs a CDRH Class II laser, reportedly the safest category of laser for projecting patterns. The system projects laser patterns on unreferenced surfaces and also can preform laser-based metrology. According to the company, the system can be set up for pattern projection in less than three minutes. assemblyguide.gocomp.biz/10

Axel (Woodside, N.Y.) introduced five new mold release products, including XTEND W-7837D, a water-based, semipermanent that yields a consistent matte finish on molded parts. Designed to release many parts without requiring reapplication, the product ensures part-to-part finish consistency, an important requirement in wind blade production. The aqueous emulsion of proprietary resins and reactive surface modifiers can be sprayed or wiped on at either ambient or elevated temperatures and reportedly is suitable for use on FRP, aluminum and steel mold surfaces to produce composite parts with polyester, vinyl ester or epoxy matrices processed at temperatures up to 220°C/425°F. axel.gocomp.biz/23

3-D weaving pioneer Biteam (Bromma, Sweden) promoted its capability to make solid integrated beam preforms of woven carbon fiber for supporting aero engine guide vanes and other engine components. Beams incorporate a tapered section at one side of a vertical section to provide increased base area while simultaneously supporting and strengthening the beam's vertical section. This construction reportedly reduces the use of oversized beams. The preform can be woven straight or with a specified radius of curvature. biteam.gocomp.biz/4

Bodycote Materials Engineering (Lancaster, U.K.) announced its acquisition of the warrington Group of companies, located at three sites in the U.K. and additional locations in Belgium, France, Italy, Hong Kong, United Arab Emirates and Australia. The acquired firms perform consulting and testing services for a number of international standards, as well as architectural product testing, inspection of fire protection systems and certification at the local and EU (CE) levels in Europe. The move gives Bodycote access to a sector of testing activity that complements similar existing activities in its North American operations. bodycote-mt.gocomp.biz/8

Bryte Technologies (Morgan Hill, Calif.) highlighted two new toughened epoxy resin systems: TC250, a 250°F-/ 121°C-cure system for either vacuum bag/oven cure or autoclave, offers the ability to achieve postcure Tg values of up to 350°F/150°C, making it a suitable system for general and civil aviation. The resin can be cured in 30 minutes. TC350, a 350°F-/177°C-cure system for critical primary and secondary aerospace structures, is autoclave-only and offers a compression-after-impact strength of 35 ksi/241 MPa after a 1,500 inch/lb impact. Both are available in uni tapes and woven and nonwoven prepregs. brytetech.gocomp.biz/6

CompoTech (Cowes, Isle of Wight, U.K.) introduced a manufacturing process that uses ultrahigh-modulus pitch carbon fiber to manufacture structural tubes, which can be used in almost any type of high-speed industrial machinery (e.g., milling machines, robots and printers). The pitch-based fiber offers higher bending and torsion stiffness than PAN-based fiber and can be cost-effective when used in volume, says the company. The manufacturing process can produce custom shapes and sizes, with high repeatability and increased stiffness — more than 400 GPa, or twice as stiff as steel at one quarter the weight. compotech.gocomp.biz/1

Cytec Engineered Materials Inc. (Tempe, Ariz.) highlighted a number of innovations, including a new bismaleimide (BMI)-based tooling material, DuraTool 450, designed to provide a durable but less expensive alternative to Invar and epoxy tooling; new resin infusion systems and new prepregs; and an expansion of Surface Master production. The latter is now offered with pigmented multifunctionality to reduce or eliminate painting. THORNEL T40/800, a new intermediate-modulus carbon fiber, also has been released into select high-performance applications. cytec.gocomp.biz/34

Delcam (Birmingham, U.K.) previewed new PowerMILL CAM software, designed to support 5-axis machining. Enhancements include improved point distribution within toolpaths to ensure smoother machining and better surface finish (accuracy to a fraction of a millimeter, making it possible to make large tools in modules, which can be joined with a perfect match) and faster calculation times for larger components or tooling, permitting tool manufacture in half the time required with traditional methods. delcam.gocomp.biz/9

DIAB Inc. (Laholm, Sweden and DeSoto, Texas) highlighted its Divinycell HP (high performance) polyvinyl chloride (PVC) foam core grade, which is prepreg compatible — up to 293°F/145°C vacuum bag processing temperature and with a sustained service temperature of 212°F/100°C — and available in densities from 5 lb/ft3 to 12.5 lb/ft3. Core demand has driven DIAB to make significant investments in its Laholm, Longarone, Italy and DeSoto, Texas plants, and open a new facility in Kunshan, China. diabgroup.gocomp.biz/22

Diatex (St.-Genis-Laval, France) introduced VACUOPEEL, an evolutionary development of its VACUOPLEX product. VACUOPLEX is a multilayer vacuum bagging system (without adhesive) that product combines peel ply, perforated film, breather felt and vacuum-bagging film. The material simplifies applications on vertical mold surfaces, eliminates flaws or loss of porosity caused by overlapping or missing materials in conventional layups and removes in one piece after cure. VACUOPEEL is the same product, but permits users to remove the breather and perforated film, but temporarily leaving the peel ply in place to protect the cured surface. diatex.gocomp.biz/2

DuPont (Wilmington, Del. and Geneva, Switzerland) showcased a new Kevlar aramid paper developed for honeycomb core that will be used in Airbus Industrie's A350 aircraft. The new honeycomb will be used in flooring, interior walls and cabin racks as well as wing flaps, radomes and leading edges. DuPont also announced a 10 percent increase in Kevlar production, the result of an expansion project at its plant in Maydown, North Ireland. dupontplastics.gocomp.biz/4

Expert International GmbH (Bielefeld, Germany) premiered its cutEXPERT minijet, a waterjet-based CAM system designed for prototyping, small runs and lab tests. The system features software developed and refined in-house since 1994. The waterjet nozzle reportedly enables cutting of even the most complex contours. The machine's material feed system accepts roll or sheet material up to 180 cm/70.9 inches wide. expertinternational.gocomp.biz/2

Hexcel Composites Ltd. (Dublin, Calif. and Duxford, Cambridge, U.K.), promoted several of its newer technologies: HexMC is a sheet molding composite designed for compression molding, which is made with chopped unidirectional prepreg. HexTOOL, based on HexMC and made with a toughened, high-temperature bismaleimide (BMI) resin, is intended for composite tool fabrication. It machines readily after cure, thanks to the quasi-isotropic nature of the randomly oriented prepreg material. Also new: HexWeb CRF, a commercial-grade aluminum honeycomb core with a non-chromium foil treatment, provides the same level of mechanical and corrosion resistance as chromium-treated core. hexcel.gocomp.biz/47

Hexion Specialty Chemicals (Carpentersville, Ill.) showcased the company's high-performance epoxy resins for aerospace. One new product is EPIKOTE 601, a toughened epoxy intended for structural aerospace applications. New capacity is already being added in both Europe and North America, says the company, to meet growing demand for its multifunctional resins (i.e., used for both prepreg and liquid molding processes). hexionchem.gocomp.biz/17

Huntsman Advanced Materials (The Woodlands, Texas) exhibited a two-component flame retardant paste epoxy adhesive — Epibond 1590 FST A/B — that can be used with both metal and thermoplastic substrates at room- or elevated-temperature cure for aerospace interiors. An Italian motor scooter part shown at the stand, made with an epoxy sheet molding compound (SMC), exhibited improved surface finish and lighter part weight, compared to polyester SMC, says the company. Also new: A RenCast product for the foundry industry enables fabrication of patterns and prototypes that have high abrasion and chemical resistance. A patented nanotechnology that adds nano-scale rubber to epoxy for tougher, more crack-resistant resins targeted to the wind turbine industry. huntsmanadv.gocomp.biz/13

Lectra (Marietta, Ga.) presented DesignConcept TechTex, a software program that ensures extremely accurate 3-D and 2-D model flattening, regardless of model complexity. This reportedly provides designers with a realistic simulation of the final rendering and enables them to analyze the technical and economic feasibility before the critical prototype development phase. Cost estimates can be calculated very early in development, easing the decision-making process. lectra.gocomp.biz/8

McClean Anderson (Schofield, Wis.) introduced its new Titan filament winding machine at the show. Titan is a larger, more robust filament winder, designed primarily for economical fiberglass pipe manufacture and configurable with two to four axes of motion and controlled by the company's Flexwind machine control software. The company also offers its Composite Designer software for complex filament wound structures and PatternMaster software for simple 2-axis winding with computer control. mccleananderson.gocomp.biz/26

Oxeon AB (Frolunda, Sweden) introduced TeXero unidirectional prepreg tapes, in carbon, aramid and/or glass fibers and even more brittle fibers, such as boron. (The are also used to make the company's TeXtreme tape-woven reinforcement fabrics.) Tapes are available in widths ranging from 20 mm to 50 mm (0.79 inches to 1.97 inches) with areal weights corresponding to the degree of spreading and type of fiber. The tape-making process permits very lightweight tapes to be made from heavier (12K, 24K and 48K) tow. oxeon.gocomp.biz/6

Porcher Industries (Badinières, France) exhibited its line of PiPreg thermoplastic composites, featuring unidirectional or woven E-glass and S-2 glass, carbon or aramid fibers impregnated with high-performance thermoplastic resins, such as PEEK, PPS, PEI, TPU and polyamide 12. The reinforcement, resin, fiber orientation and fiber/resin ratio can be tailored to the end-use. PiPreg is available in preconsolidated thermoformable and weldable sheet stock. porcher-ind.gocomp.biz/5

Quickstep Technologies Pty. Ltd. (Canning Vale, Western Australia) showcased the company's proprietary mold technology in which a mold face is semiflexible and is supported by a heat transfer fluid. The system enables application of both heat and pressure, eliminating autoclave processing. In addition to centers of excellence at the the University of Manchester's Northwest Composites Centre and at Deakin University (Geelong, Victoria, Australia), the company signed a letter of intent with the National Composites Center (NCC, Kettering, Ohio) for a collaboration that will include the acquisition by NCC of a QS20 composites production machine for a third center of excellence. quickstep.gocomp.biz/5

Tajima GmbH (Winterlingen-Benzingen, Germany), at the JEC for the first time, demonstrated a new preforming process that combines fiber placement technology with stitching. The machine lays down a single dry carbon tow (or other fiber) onto a flat table, using a computer-controlled head. The head then stitches the tows with any type of thread to hold the preform shape together on an underlayment of paper, film, foil or other material. Multiple plies are possible in any orientation to form a multiaxial preform of any shape with virtually no waste, since the preform shape can be reproduced exactly with the CNC-controlled head. tajima.gocomp.biz/2

Thermwood (Dale, Ind.) had its 5-axis CNC Router for 3-D machining applications on display at the Halbronn Composites stand. The router comes in seven models with processing envelopes ranging from 5 ft by 5 ft to 5 ft by 12 ft (1.5m by 1.5m to 1.5m by 3.7m), and four others with fixed tables, from 5 ft by 10 ft to 10 ft by 20 ft (3m by 3m to 3m by 6.1m). Each features a Thermwood-built CNC controller, which eliminates stoppages and slow-downs associated with commercial controllers. The machines also come with a spring-loaded impact-resistant cutting head, which avoids most calibration readjustments associated with head-fixture collisions. thermwood.gocomp.biz/2

UBE Industries Ltd. (Tokyo, Japan) premiered its PETI-365E Prepreg, featuring a polyimide resin matrix (based on an UBE-developed proprietary monomer technology) and a plain-weave Toray T800 12K carbon fiber reinforcement. Designed for high-temperature applications (Tg of 365°C/689°F), the formula eliminates MDA, and the cured prepreg exhibits high toughness and low microcracking. Applications include components for jet engines and space launch vehicles. Also new: PETI-330 resin technology for high-temperature (330°C/626°F) composite molding via resin transfer molding (RTM) or resin film infusion (RFI), as well as prepreg. ube.gocomp.biz/3

VISTAGY Inc. (Waltham, Mass.) featured the Renault Formula1 race car at its stand. Renault racing team CAD support engineer Alan Duerden gave several presentations, explaining how VISTAGY's FiberSIM software has reduced ply layup time by 62 percent. Released just before the show, FiberSIM 5.1 reportedly provides new, specialized tools that enable engineers working on commercial CAD systems to automate design processes earlier in the production development process. vistagy.gocomp.biz/12

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