After more than 60 years on the U.S. West Coast, the annual Symposium and Exhibition of the Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering (SAMPE) was relocated to the eastern seaboard in what the organization called a strategic move. SAMPE 2007 ran June 3-5 at the Baltimore Convention Center, and SAMPE ex-ecutive director Gregg Balko told HPC that the strategy was a success: The fresh venue attracted 254 exhibitors, 70 of which were new to the show and therefore a welcome sight for the event’s 3,850 visitors.
Tuesday’s keynote speaker Doug Comstock, NASA’s Director of Innovative Partnerships Program Office, outlined NASA goals for the next 10 years in “NASA’s New Strategic Directions and the Importance of Industrial Collaborations.” Noting that materials science remains a paramount concern in space exploration, he outlined, with the aid of stunning conceptual videos, the ARES launch vehicles, the Mars Science Laboratory, the proposed lunar outpost and other components of NASA’s Global Exploration Strategy.
The keynoter for the Wednesday sessions, Dr. Starnes Walker, the director of research for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, discussed the role of M&P within the scope of Homeland Security and other government programs that have funds available for research projects.
Thursday’s keynoter, Congressman Donald Manzullo (Illinois), exhorted listeners to join with him to help change the often stifling U.S. technology export rules and regulations, which he says are hurting the economy. His assignment to all of SAMPE’s exhibitors and attendees: Invite your congressional rep to your shops to make them aware of the importance of composites manufacture, and join the Export Control Working Group (information is available from SAMPE).
Notable among the conference’s 280 papers was Pepin Assoc. Inc. (Greenville, Maine) principal John Pepin’s presentation on DiscoTex material technology, which features discontinuous cut fibers of carbon, glass, quartz or ceramic bound by a continuous polymer fiber designed for weaving applications. The cut fiber content makes the material suitable for tight radius work (0.25 inch/6.35 mm minimum) in complex shapes — particularly, says Pepin, those that might not normally be considered for weaving or fiber placement. The binder fiber, which is wrapped around the cut fibers, can be either a thermoplastic or a thermoset and acts primarily to hold the cut fibers together. If the wrap is thermoplastic, it becomes a matrix precursor in the final part; the thermoset wrap, however, is a soluble fiber that is “washed out” after weaving and before layup of the primary fiber. The material can be processed via VARTM or autoclave. Pepin says the material is seeing use right now in a fuselage keel for Boeing (see photo, lower right) and is currently going through a defense acquisition challenge program to qualify it to Boeing specifications.
Students who competed in SAMPE’s annual composite bridge- and wing-building competitions gathered at the Baltimore Hyatt to find out whose constructions best withstood the weight testing. HPC sponsored the award for best bridge from a carbon kit. Third place went to the University of Washington while midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., took second place. First place went to the team from San Diego State University (see photo on p. 2).
On the show floor
The HPC staff combed the aisles in the exhibit hall, turning up the following notable product/service news from exhibitors.
Alpha Technologies (Akron, Ohio) and Avpro (Norman, Okla.) introduced joint-venture process control software and a rheometer that tests a complete prepreg system while producing a molded coupon of the part. Resulting data give an accurate autoclave cure profile for a composite part made from the same prepreg system; thermocouples are placed in the thickest section of the part in the autoclave. An option is to cure the test specimen simultaneously with the part in the autoclave. When the software shows the test specimen is fully cured, the part in the autoclave also will be fully cured.
Mechanical fastener specialist Click Bond Inc. (Carson City, Nev.) showcased its PINCH-MOUNT (pat. pend.) brackets, designed to solve problems encountered in attachment of electrical cables and other systems to free flanges on structures such as aircraft frames and longerons. The pinch mount is bonded to the flange by applying adhesive to the “leaves,” and pinching them together, clamping the bracket to the flange. Testing demonstrated that these brackets are capable of sustaining a 400-lb load in any direction. Also new: ceramic fiber insulative thermal blanket retainers protect composite parts in high-temperature applications, notably the composite nacelles that surround the new GEnx turbofan aircraft engines on the Boeing 787, which can reach 1200°F/650°C, about 400°F/204°C higher than the same environment in a typical jet engine.
Cornerstone Research Group Inc. (CRG, Dayton, Ohio) premiered Reflexive Composites, a bio-inspired self-healing composite system targeted to aerospace applications. Using a piezoelectric-based structural health monitoring system embedded within a composite laminate made with a CRG shape memory polymer, the system can detect damage sustained in flight on a real-time basis (for more information, see “Applications,” under “Related Content,” at left). The company also introduced two new high-performance epoxy-based shape memory polymers.
Delcam Plc (Birmingham, U.K.), exhibiting in the booth of machine tool supplier CMS North America Inc. (Caledonia, Mich.), rolled out its latest CAD/CAM developments, including improved methods for the generation of 2-D patterns for prepregs from 3-D models of components, more efficient nesting of sheet-cut materials and an expanded range of five-axis machining methods both for manufacture of patterns and tooling and machining of molded parts.
Dexmet Corp. (Naugatuck, Conn.) showed its expanded metal and MicroGrid foil lightning strike materials. The company announced a partnership with Spirit Aerosystems (Wichita, Kan.) to supply the expanded aluminum and copper metal mesh materials for lightning strike tests that were demonstrated at SAMPE and reported on by Spirit’s John Welch in his paper entitled “Lightning Strike Testing Results on Honeycomb Panels Protected With a Series of Metal Mesh Products.”
Dynamold Inc. (Fort Worth, Texas) premiered its silicon rubber intensifier, a two-part liquid that is poured into molds and thermally expands. The intensifier is designed for moldmaking, composite pressure pad applications and thermal expanding tools. Under vacuum, the material expands as much as four times its original volume.
Eastman Machine Co. (Buffalo, N.Y.) demonstrated a new manually operated fiberglass end cutter it calls GlasHawk. Designed for mat and medium-weight wovens, the crush cutter pinches the fibers against a replaceable wear block to break them rather than shear them, an advantage over more traditional cutters in which fibers can become entangled around the blade. Look for an automated version of the GlasHawk within the next few months.
ESI Group (Paris, France and Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) announced the release of PAM-RTM for CATIA V5, software that simulates composite parts manufacturing, based on liquid composite molding processes, such as resin transfer molding (RTM) or vacuum-assisted RTM (VARTM). This iteration of the program, says ESI, fine-tunes the mold design and the process parameters to help make sure parts are properly injected. The software also allows the user to perform injection analysis directly on the CAD model.
Henkel Corp. (Bay Point, Calif.) highlighted several new products: Hysol EA 9895 wet peel ply, recently qualified by Airbus, provides an optimized surface for enhanced bond durability. Frekote 901-WB water-based mold release is designed for aerospace part fabrication. Hysol PL 7000 composite bonding film adhesive was recently qualified to Boeing’s BMS 5-154 specification.
The Hexcel (Dublin, Calif.) booth showcased HexPly 8552 prepreg and other products supplied to the V-22 Osprey helicopter program. Notable among its new products was HexWeb Acousti-Cap, which won a 2007 JEC Composites Show Innovation Award. Acousti-Cap is a honeycomb core with a nonmetallic, permeable “cap” or septum placed within the core cells. The product can be produced to customer specifications, i.e., the number of caps within cells and insertion depth(s) to create “tuned” assemblies for noise reduction. The product will be used in the new GEnx jet engines that will fly on the Boeing 787 aircraft.
Hollingsworth & Vose (East Walpole, Mass.) announced a new specialty nonwoven carbon fiber surfacing veil for extremely corrosive composite applications, such as composite flue stack liners in coal-fired power plants. The veil provides conductive, antistatic and antispark properties. Also on exhibit: a new nickel-coated carbon fiber nonwoven designed for lightning strike protection.
Laser projection equipment supplier LAP Laser LLC (Cincinnati, Ohio) offered multitasking software that enables a single laser projector to perform multiple tasks, e.g., projection of different ply outlines onto as many as eight tools simultaneously as long as all eight are within the projector’s 80° imaging range. The software also automatically performs periodic calibrations during operation to ensure the accuracy of all part outlines.
At the Lewcott Corp. (Millbury, Mass.) booth, three new products were on offer: EPT 2100, a 270°F-/132°C-cure epoxy system with a six-month out-time; LC 802F, a fire-retarding reinforced thermoplastic resin system designed for ballistic applications, such as vehicle spall plates; and EP 3552, a thermoplastic-toughened, high-temperature epoxy prepreg.
Plasmatreat North America Inc. (Mississauga, Ontario, Canada) attracted attention with its new, fully automatic Openair Plasma nonvacuum atmospheric treating system, designed to prepare composite parts for bonding or paint adhesion (without primer), or to eliminate surface solvents and other contaminants. Onboard robotics enable fast treatment and, according to the company, can be integrated easily into manufacturing processes.
Reno Machine Co. (Newington, Conn.) revealed its recent purchase of two 5-axis gantry mills from Henri Liné Machines (Granby, Quebec, Canada), a division of Forest Liné (Paris, France). The machines enhance Reno’s CNC moldmaking process in which a customer’s CAD files can be used, first, to accurately cut molds and then be integrated into a coordinate measuring machine that measures the actual dimensional profile against the CAD model to ensure accuracy.
Rogers Corp. (Rogers, Conn.), showed its line of trademarked BISCO Silicone materials for aircraft interiors. Its patented fire-blocking silicone foam meets FAR 25.853 fire/smoke/toxicity requirements and, when combined with fiberglass, provides high levels of fire blocking in aircraft seats, carpet wall coverings, cargo fire barriers and more.
3M’s Aerospace Div. (Minneapolis, Minn.) showcased its aerospace products, including AF-555, a 3M Scotch-Weld structural film adhesive (177°C/350°F cure, 149°C/300°F service temperature) that has been qualified on the Boeing 787. Another new product, previously available only in Europe, is 398FR, a fire-retardant glass cloth/acrylic tape adhesive used for sealing aircraft cargo bay panels.
Microsphere supplier Trelleborg Emerson & Cuming (Mansfield, Mass.) showcased a variety of products, including its TB650-F1 epoxy tooling block. The new block is a recyclable, filled, high-temperature tooling material intended for use in fabrication of tooling for composite parts.
2Phase Technologies Inc. (Santa Clara, Calif.) demonstrated its state-change material for molds and mandrels. The technology is based on ceramic microspheres that, when mixed with the company’s binder, assume a relatively liquid state in a special container. However, when a vacuum is applied to the material in the presence of a solid shape (a part or component) while the binder is removed, the ceramic microspheres match the shape of the part, effectively creating a female tool.
Weber Manufacturing Technologies Inc. (Midland, Ontario, Canada) introduced nickel-coated powders designed to improve thermal or electrical conductivity, provide EMI shielding or function as abrasives when embedded in a variety of materials. The powder can be used as an resin additive, in which case the conductive properties would be distributed through the resin; it also can be applied as a thermal arc spray onto the outside perimeter of a product, providing an even distribution of the nickel and the substrate material. Because of the high melting point of nickel, it can be sprayed onto a cured product or sprayed on before cure, depending on the application.
Composite repair equipment supplier WichiTech Industries Inc. (Columbia, Md.) announced the development of drop-in processor upgrades for its portable computerized HB-series hot bonders. The processors are compatible with legacy HB1 products and offer users of these older systems better cure memory, advanced networking capability and PC-link communication.
Zyvax Inc. (Ellijay, Ga.) highlighted its Waterworks mold release products, including Departure wipes, a new nonhazardous, presaturated mold release wipe. Multiple releases are reportedly achievable with a single wipe. Formulated for advanced composites molders, the product meets several aerospace specifications and has received California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) certification.