The strength of both the carbon fiber and the overall composites markets was reinforced by Hexcel’s (Stamford, CT, US) president Nick Stanage, who spoke at a press briefing during JEC. After presenting financial figures for the company, including a 2014 sales figure of US$1.9 billion, Stanage said that the company foresees 17% annual growth in commercial aerospace, which makes up 67% of Hexcel’s business, and that each Airbus A350 XWB built includes up to US$5 million of Hexcel materials. He went on to state a company goal of US$3 billion in sales by 2020 and 10% company growth. Hexcel will break ground on its two new plants (one for PAN and the second for carbon fiber) in Roussillon, France, on May 21.
Markus Majoor, global market segment leader, thermosets & acrylics at AkzoNobel (Amerfoort, The Netherlands), reported to CW that the company has been doing interesting work with its cobalt-free NOURYACT brand of accelerators for polyesters. AkzoNobel has discovered, says Majoor, that the accelerator is moisture insensitive, which means that fabricators who process natural fibers are not required to dry the fiber reinforcement before infusion. AkzoNobel would like to do more research on the material and is looking for fabricators of bio-fibers with whom to partner.
At Ashland Performance Materials’ (Columbus, OH, US) stand, Thom Johnson, marketing manager, specialty resins, related some of the product development details behind Epitome, a composite home foundation system manufactured by Composite Panel System LLC (CPS, Eagle River, WI, US). Designed to replace time-consuming and laborious concrete foundations, Epitome comprises composite panels, integrated attachment points and electrical and other hardware. They can be installed in as quickly as 90 minutes, says Johnson, which greatly speeds overall home construction. Johnson says Epitome is gaining traction in Wisconsin where CPS is based, but the next step is to move it into larger metropolitan areas. He concludes, “This project has singularly changed how Ashland pursues innovation in the market.”