A comprehensive collection of news and information about composites.

Posted by: Ginger Gardiner

24. November 2015

Fraunhofer (Munich, Germany) and Germany Trade & Invest (Berlin and Bonn) presented an array of “German High Tech Champion” composites technologies.

Remocut FRP uses lasers and high-speed beam deflection (top left) to cut organosheets (top right), 1-4 mm thick consolidated glass fiber/polypropylene (bottom left), 2mm-thick carbon fiber/epoxy tensile specimens (bottom center) and fiber placed isogrid structure (bottom right). SOURCE: Fraunhofer IWS.

Remocut FRP (name taken from “remote cutting”) enables high-quality lasers and high-speed beam deflection to achieve cutting or ablating (surgical removal of matter) of high-performance fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) materials. A mirror system is used to rapidly project the laser beam onto the material, working with high precision even at high speeds (accelerations of 10g are possible).The high speeds result in very short interaction times between the laser beam and the material, minimizing heat effects.
    Developed by Fraunhofer IWS (Dresden, Germany), this contactless thermal process offers a very flexible alternative to drilling and water-jet cutting, capable of cutting pliable textiles and preforms, consolidated semi-finished parts (blanks), trimming and contouring of finished parts, as well as hole-drilling and trimming of load-path optimized, fiber placement parts.
    As an ablation tool, Remocut FRP can be used for pre-bonding surface preparation of composite-composite and FRP-metal joints.

Friction Spot Joining is one of several techniques developed by HZG for joining CFRP to metal for hybrid automotive construction. SOURCE: Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthact

Friction Spot Joining (FSpJ) is a technique developed at Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthact (HZG, Geesthact, Germany) for joining automotive aluminum and magnesium alloys to thermoplastic carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) structures, an enabler for automobile OEMs’ stated goal of hybrid multi-material vehicle construction in order to meet lightweight goals. FSpJ uses a non-consumable, cylindrical tool to heat up and join spot lap connections by friction. The joint is achieved by a combination of frictional heat deformation and chemical adhesive bonding between the surfaces. The technology is touted as fast, simple, energy-efficient and does not require consumables nor produce emissions. Other hybrid joining methods developed include FricRiveting and Injection Clinching Joining (ICJ).

Aesthetic and eco-friendly fiber-reinforced plastic (FRP) wood composite columns show significantly increased load capacity with minimal reinforcement.
SOURCE: Peer Haller, TU Dresden

Professor Peer Haller at the Technical University Dresden in Germany presented his research on lightweight, textile-reinforced molded timber structures. The first part of the research is intriguing:

When compressed at 140°C across the grain, the cell walls of timber soften and fold up. As a consequence, the cell structure with its voids is compressed and the timber becomes more solid. No less significant, but currently not technically exploited, is the fact that the cell structure can be completely pulled apart again and fixed, which centuples elongation. In this way, timber becomes a cellular polymer material that can be easily formed.

This spawned a multi-step process for producing the structural wood forms. First, square-sawn timbers are biaxially densified using interlocking metal plates which transforms a continuous uniaxial closing motion into a quasi-biaxial compression. Densified square timbers are then planed, glued into blocks and sliced to form end grain plates. These plasticized end grain boards are then formed using heat, moisture and mechanical force into structural shapes, after which they are fixed via cooling and drying without any additives. Textiles laminated to the exterior strengthen the wood profile in the circumferential direction and protect against environmentally induced damage.


  Production process for end grain boards: (from left) densification device, densified square timber, glued block and sliced end grain board.
SOURCE: “Textile reinforcement of multidimensional formable wood” by Jörg Wehsener, Thomas Weser, Peer Halle, Olaf Diestel and Chokri Cherif, TU Dresden, 2014.

Tubular columns may be made using the above process and then applying textile reinforcement via braiding, filament winding or fabric wrapping. Fifty-two columns reinforced with glass or carbon fiber were tested and found to demonstrate significantly improved load-carrying capacity and ductility using a relatively small amount of reinforcement. The fiber confinement strengthens the wood across the grain, enabling the compression strength of the wood parallel to the grain to be fully utilized. Meanwhile, the wood increases the column’s section modulus with a lightweight, strong material which prevents local buckling vs. a thin-walled FRP tube. The two materials work together for a technology that is reportedly efficient, environmentally friendly, economical, recyclable, durable and aesthetically appealing. Results from a life cycle analysis compared to steel and concrete columns show a definite advantage with respect to energy use and CO2 emissions. Success in manufacturing large quantities of lightweight components in structural dimensions has been demonstrated in a pilot plant and Haller’s team is now engaging with industry to explore market applications.

SOURCE: “Structural, economic and environmental performance of fibre reinforced wood profiles vs. solutions made of steel and concrete” by C. Manthey & E. Guenther, A. Heiduschke & P. Haller, et. al., TU Dresden, 2010.


Carbon Flight was an eyecatcher that I omitted in my previous blog. Its developers claim a process for making hollow-walled composite tubes that have demonstrated 1.4 times higher later compression vs. traditional laminated tubes of the same weight and size. Reportedly manufacturable in any shape and size, other benefits include vibration dampening and insulation.

SOURCE:  CW (left) and (right).

M51 Advanced Composites Training and Resources (Garran, Australia and Coppell, TX, US) is now offering a range of short courses in composites including:

  • Introduction to Airframe Design (including composite materials)
  • Composite Structures Design Requirements Analysis
  • Composite Structures Damage Tolerance and Fatigue Analysis
  • Composite Tube Design
  • Inspection of Damaged Composite Components
  • Essentials of Composite Materials for Engineers

All of these classes may be offered in Europe (Belgium/London), Australia (Canberra), Brazil (Sao Paulo) and near Dallas, Texas in the US. Courses are taught by Rik Heslehurst, a 30-year composites veteran with tenures as an aeronautical engineering officer with the Royal Australian Air Force, F/A-18 airworthiness engineer and Officer-in-charge of RAAF Materials and Process Engineering and lecturer/researcher at the Australian Defence Force Academy. Heslehurst has taught engineering courses for Abaris Training since 1991 and now adds these additional course offerings and his consulting services via

Textum offers innovative composite textiles. SOURCE: CW.

Another new composites company for me is Textum Carbon Solutions (Belmont, NC) which offers a wide range of innovative textiles for composites, including: woven and unidirectional fabrics, knitted and woven tapes, hot melt tapes, structural shapes and RTM preforms, as well as custom developments.


Vartega Carbon Fiber Recycling (Arvada, CO, US) also exhibited, highlighting its patent-pending solvolysis solutions for recycling of expired carbon fiber prepreg and long-fiber manufacturing scrap.

Finally, YXLON (Hudson, OH, US) showed its high-resolution, computed tomography (CT) inspection systems for composites. Supplying into the aerospace, automotive and other industries (e.g., sports equipment), YXLON is seeing increased demand for using this technology with composite materials. Its equipment offers a very precise and flexible means for understanding multiple aspects of composites, such as fiber orientation, flow analysis, porosity analysis and metrology.

CT is becoming a valuable tool for composite manufacturers. For example, Jesse Garant Metrology Center (Detroit, MI, US) offers CT services, using an array of customized equipment, which enable “walking through” the volume of a part in any orientation or direction for understanding issues like fiber orientation and fiber volume fraction, defect analysis which can detect and quantify every single void and also thickness measurement of every single wall in the structure, regardless of the number of cavities. In the latter, a plot of wall thicknesses compromised by porosity is output for easy visual evaluation, but the raw data is analyzed and available as well. CT can also perform dimensional checks, an order of magnitude more precise than coordinate measurement machines (CMM), by comparing the digital CT scan to the part’s CAD file. CT is also being used for analysis of part-to-part variation as processes are characterized and scaled to full-rate production.

CT inspection offers analysis for composite structures including fiber orientation (left), porosity (center) and part-to-part variation (right).
SOURCE: Jesse Garant Metrology Center.

Posted by: Ginger Gardiner

19. November 2015

High-strength, lightweight metal lattice materials are being developed by Boeing. SOURCE: Architected Materials.

So this involves three stories which were all on the Engineering Materials website, and which presented an interesting snapshot of where metals are headed — namely, right where composites have been (corrosion-resistant, lightweight, interiors) and where they fight to increase penetration (landing gear, metal structures).

  • Airbus' development of a new corrosion-resistant stainless steel alloy, “CRES”, for aircraft landing gear;
  • Harvard SEAS' portfolio of slippery anti-corrosion coatings that also boost steel's strength;
  • The backstory on Boeing's pursuit of the lighter-than-air metal microlattice (vs. polymer), aimed at applications including aircraft interiors.

Airbus is developing a new CRES corrosion-resistant stainless steel alloy for landing gear components, like this forged piece cooling on a palette. SOURCE: Airbus

Intrinsic corrosion resistance without coatings
Airbus is developing the new corrosion-resistant stainless steel alloy (CRES) in partnership with landing gear manufacturer  Messier-Bugatti-Dowty (Vélizy-Villacoublay, France), steel and titanium alloy producer Carpenter Technology (Wyomissing, PA) and the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC, Rotherham, UK). According to Airbus, CRES eliminates the need to use traditional cadmium and chromate coatings and imparts intrinsic corrosion resistance to the metal. With strength comparable to current steels, cost possibly half that of titanium alloys and potential to reduce cost of ownership due to improved corrosion resistance, fracture toughness and stress cracking, it is being targeted to replace both steel and titanium alloys for future aircraft landing gear. Composites have made significant inroads in metal replacement thanks to these same qualities.

Nine A320 main landing gear components have been forged from CRES and are being used to further develop the material, including establishing as-manufactured properties and optimizing the route to industrialization. Two components have been manufactured to a final finish, and the team hopes to assemble a fully CRES landing gear for in-service evaluation.


Steel is prone to corrosion from water, salt, abrasion and organisms (left) but new slippery coatings made from electrodeposited tungsten-oxide (TO) islands can resist even accelerated corrosion exposure to very corrosive Glyceregia etchant (right). Unmodified stainless steel has corroded (right sample) but the lower part of the left sample holds up well thanks to its 600-nm thick TO film coating. SOURCE: and Wikicommons (left) and (right).

Improved anti-corrosion coatings
This more traditional avenue for mitigating the corrosion weakness of steel and other metals is also getting some uber performance technology. Researchers at Harvard University's John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS, Cambridge, MA, US) have developed a nanoporous tungsten oxide coating that reportedly repels any kind of liquid, even after sustaining intense structural abuse. SEAS researchers noted that while steel alloys have developed, steel surfaces have remained largely unchanged, still prone to the corrosive effects of water, salt and abrasive materials such as sand. Led by Professor Joanna Aizenberg, the SEAS team developed Slippery Liquid-Infused Porous Surfaces (SLIPS) in 2011, and now claim "slippery steel" that is orders of magnitude more durable than any anti-corrosive coating developed before.

The key is surface engineering that enables the design of materials which can perform multiple, even conflicting, functions, without degradation of its inherent performance. Electrochemical deposition — already widely utilized in steel manufacturing — is used to grow an ultrathin film of hundreds of thousands of small and rough tungsten-oxide islands directly onto a steel surface. These islands not only provide an anti-wetting surface which repels liquids, they also make the steel stronger.

The coated steels are being aimed at applications like medical tools and devices (e.g., implants and scalpels), nozzles for 3D printing and possibly even buildings and marine vessels.

Though many publications are just recently announcing this development, it actually began almost a decade ago. CW reported on it in 2011. The interesting thing is that it started out as a polymer-based system. Rachel Park wrote a great article, "Materialising Micro Lattice Structures" in 2013, which explains the technology really well. The beginnings of all microlattice structures are resin photomonomers and UV light.

Collimated UV light is directed into photomonomer resin through a mask with thousands of small holes, and a layer of quartz, to form self-propagating photopolymer waveguides, that in turn form micro lattice structures. SOURCE: Rachel Park,

So this development comes out of HRL Laboratories (Malibu, CA, US), which is jointly owned by Boeing (Chicago, IL, US) and General Motors (Detroit, MI, US). What's interesting to me is that Boeing is publicizing its development of the technology into the world's lightest metal and its potential to replace current materials in applications like aircraft interiors.

Architected Lattice is commercializing microlattice materials into a variety of applications, including football helmets. SOURCE: Architected Lattice.

Meanwhile, Architected Materials (Ventura, CA, US), which was established in 2011 to commercialize this Architected Lattice material beyond aerospace and automotive, has announced its win of a grant sponsored by the National Football League, General Electric and Under Armour, to develop microlattice plastics as a replacement for foam in football helmets. The materials will absorb impact energy, limit peak loads and reportedly can be enhanced with a strain-sensing “smart lattice” to detect and transmit impact data which could further improve helmet design and performance. They also permit more air flow, and thus, are more breathable than current foam materials.

Architected Lattice sees a nearly endless potential for microlattice structures and does not appear to be tied to plastics, metals or any other materials. But back to our beginning, Boeing sees its largest play in microlattice metals. So, composites indeed have new competition, but there may also be new opportunity. The challenge will be figuring out the latter.

Posted by: Dale Brosius

19. November 2015

I’ve been very fortunate to have been in the composites industry for over 30 years, and also to be given a platform to opine in CompositesWorld each month through my column Composites: Perspectives and Provocations. This month I get a second go with this blog post!

I’m also fortunate to be serving as the chief commercialization officer for the Institute for Advanced Composites Innovation (IACMI), the fifth of the U.S. manufacturing institutes founded by the NNMI program. IACMI - The Composites Institute is a public-private partnership sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, with a focus on energy applications of composites, including vehicle lightweighting, wind energy and compressed fuel storage.

The confluence of my two roles happens Dec. 8-10 in Knoxville, Tennessee, where IACMI is headquartered, at the CompositesWorld annual Carbon Fiber conference. Exactly 11 months prior, in January 2015, President Obama and Vice President Biden came to Knoxville to announce that IACMI had won the competition to negotiate a cooperative agreement with DOE to become the nation’s advanced composites manufacturing institute. In the final hour of the conference agenda on Dec. 9, I’ll present an update on our progress to date, which is a substantial body of work. Since January, we have negotiated and signed the cooperative agreement, held an introductory members meeting, entered collaborations with several key partners, conducted outreach sessions at important conferences, and issued our first Request for Proposals. Soon, we will be announcing projects selected for funding and holding our second members meeting.

Much of what has been accomplished has been related to getting things “up and going” to prepare for the real purpose of The Composites Institute: solving real world problems that get in the way of mass proliferation of advanced composites in industrial markets. To help outline those challenges, I will also lead a panel discussion at the conference comprising key stakeholders – our DOE sponsor, the director of our Materials & Processing Technology Area, and three of our industrial members – one each from our Charter, Premium and Resource categories. What are some of these challenges? How about sharing information in an industry that tends to lean on trade secrets, building a solid supply chain capable of meeting the demand of the OEMs and their customers, and increasing the confidence level in design, manufacturing and sustainability of composites so they are easier to deploy?

These, and other issues, are no small obstacles, and it will require a coordinated effort on the part of all of our stakeholders. Yes, the hard work for IACMI is about to start. But it’s also the fun part, the part we all signed up to make happen.

There are lot of other great presentations, a tour, a pre-conference seminar and great networking opportunities at this year’s conference, so lots of reasons to attend. All the information is available at See you in Knoxville!

Dale Brosius, chief technology officer, IACMI

Posted by: Heather Caliendo

19. November 2015

It’s safe to say that 3D printing is now a household name. The global 3D printing market is estimated to reach at least $7 billion by 2025. While traditional applications such as prototyping continue to grow, it will be augmented with a variety of new applications.  During the 3D Printing USA Conference (Nov. 18-19, Santa Clara, CA, US) hosted by IDTechEx (Cambridge, UK), composites was featured in several presentations.

IDTechEx believes that the hype around consumer printers is dying out but will soon be replaced with hype around 3D-printed critical components in commercial airliners, fully printed rocket engines and more.

Kevin Czinger, founder and CEO Divergent Microfactories (Palo Alto, CA, US), discussed the company’s Blade, the world’s first 3D-printed supercar. Divergent Microfactories’ technology centers around its proprietary solution called a node: a 3D-printed aluminum joint that connects pieces of carbon fiber tubing to make up the car’s chassis. The company says the node solves the problem of time and space by cutting down on the actual amount of 3D printing required to build the chassis and can be assembled in minutes. The weight of the node-enabled chassis is up to 90% lighter than traditional cars. Divergent Microfactories plans to sell a limited number of high-performance vehicles that will be manufactured in its own microfactory.

Czinger said the automotive industry has an urgent need for a new production system that builds cheaper, lighter and greener cars with less capital risk and far greater speed of innovation.

“3D printing is ushering in a 21st century industrial revolution aimed at encouraging innovation in manufacturing while reducing its harmful environmental impacts,” Czinger said. 

According to Dan Campbell (pictured) from Aurora Flight Sciences, the new UAV is believed to be the largest, fastest, and most complex 3D-printed aircraft ever produced. (Photo credit: Stratasys).

Last week, Stratasys (Eden Prairie, MN) announced that it had teamed up with Aurora Flight Sciences (Manassas, VA) to create what the company believes is the largest and fastest 3D-printed unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) ever produced. The project went from concept to first flight in less than nine months. Aurora Flight Sciences wanted to show that it was possible with this technology to build a mission-unique aircraft, optimized for a specific use case, Scott Sevcik, aerospace and defense business development at Stratasys, told CompositesWorld. They did the modeling to accomplish that and determine the optimal outer mold line for the vehicle. Stratasys then worked with a company called Optimal Structures to explore the internal structure that would support the exterior with as little mass as possible. Sevcik said the resulting geometry couldn’t be built without additive manufacturing.

“Most of the design optimization work happened through the second quarter, and then we started printing parts and iterating physically. Because almost the entire vehicle was printed, we could make a significant design change and have a new part in a few days.  Traditionally this would have taken weeks to tool up for a new part and produce it.  Because of that ability to iterate so fast, and without tooling costs, there is significantly lower risk moving to physical iteration more quickly. So you start building faster, you can iterate the design faster, and finally you produce the final flight vehicle faster,” he said.

The large, lightweight pieces such as the wings and fuselage were built with a material called ASA, a production-grade thermoplastic. ASA is similar to ABS in many properties, but it is more UV stable, stronger, and allows for very sparse, hollow parts. There was a composite piece on the vehicle—a thin carbon fiber spar reinforcing the wing. The vehicle is a little more than 9ft in span, and about 30lb in dry weight. 

Sevcik believes that more than any other industry, aerospace is providing a significant pull on the manufacturing capability of 3D printing. 

“The relatively low volumes, the high complexity and the willingness to innovate in order to reduce vehicle weight really make 3D printing ideally suited for their needs—we’ve got to keep up with them,” he said. “The technology today has enabled aerospace manufacturers to start printing assembly aides, fixtures and composite lay-up tools. It’s enabled them to print interior components for commercial aircraft, ducts for launch vehicles, and structures for small UAVs.” 

“With this project, we’re showing that the capability is continuing to advance and the technology is continuing to mature,” he said. “We couldn’t have built a vehicle this big, strong, or complex a few years ago. We can take a radically different approach to designing and building a vehicle this size today. The concepts and techniques are scalable, so I’m excited to see the trend continue as we improve processes and introduce stronger materials, and to consider what we’ll be able to do in the coming years.”

Posted by: Jeff Sloan

12. November 2015

Carbon fiber tows during the manufacturing process.

There are few composites industry events that have the quality and staying power of CompositesWorld's annual Carbon Fiber conference. This year marks the 17th Carbon Fiber conference and will be held Dec. 8-10 at the Knoxville Convention Center in Knoxville, TN, US.

If you've not registered yet, you still have time. But only a few weeks. 

Carbon Fiber's location in Knoxville is not a coincidence. Its proximity to Oak Ridge National Labs (ORNL) gives the conference special access to people and facilities that are at the forefront of carbon fiber research and development in everything from aircraft to cars to wind blades to consumer products. In addition, the conference every year attracts a strong, engaged core of carbon fiber professionals — presenters and attendees — who make the event one of the industry's must-attend events.

Included in this year's conference is a panel featuring representatives from the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI) who will discuss that consortium's efforts to reduce costs and increase manufacturing speed in a variety of composite end markets and applications.

The panel will be moderated by Craig Blue, CEO of IACMI. CW caught up with Blue at CAMX and talked to him about IACMI new training partnership with Composites One and Magnum Venus Products, which aims to reach out to young composites enthusiasts with a series of four regional training session in 2016:

Blue also offered his view of how the composites industry in general has reacted to IACMI, which is in its very early days of developing projects to help accelerate composites innovation. IACMI issued its first call for proposals in September.
Of course, there's much more to the Carbon Fiber conference. You can find the full agenda here, but here are the presentation titles if you don't want to leave us yet:

December 8:

- Pre-conference seminar: Carbon Fiber Supply and Demand (see details below)
ORNL Manufacturing Demonstration Facility tours (morning and afternoon); birthdate and residency information required; registration deadline, Nov. 20.

December 9:

- Keynote: Composites for Clean Energy
- Industrial Carbon Fiber Applications in Wind and Transportation Systems, Opportunities Abound
- Ushering in the Carbon Fiber Century – An Industrial Evolution
- The Future of Automotive Lightweighting: Building Case of 2025 and Beyond
- How to Give the Market “Affordable Carbon Fiber”
- Investment Opportunities in the Carbon Fiber Aerospace and Automotive Markets
- Elium – A New Technology to Make Recyclable Structural Parts
- Automated Production of Curvilinear Patch-Based 3D Preforms for High Volume Applications
- Production Advantages of Automated Fiber Placement Using Towpreg
- Global Expansion in Carbon Fiber Manufacturing: Strategic Considerations for Energy Utilization
- Commercializing Plasma Oxidation: 75% Unit Energy Savings with 3X Greater -Thoughput and Better Properties
- Carbon Fibers from Sustainable Biomass for Energy Applications
- IACMI Plenary Presentations and Panel Discussion

December 10:

Keynote: 777x Composite Wing: New Consumer of Composite Fiber Technology
- Carbon Fiber Composites for Next Generation Military Aircraft
- The Digital Journey Continues – People & Process
- Recycle and Reuse in Composite Production - A Full Life-cycle Approach
- Composite Additive Manufacturing
- The Influence of Carbon Fiber Age on Composite Performance
- NanoStitch-enhanced prepreg for interlaminar reinforcement in fiber reinforced polymer composites
- Reinventing a Parts Manufacturer for a Changing Marketplace
- Countervail Vibration Canceling Technology
- Surface Treatment for Improving Performance and Automation in CFRP Bonding and Manufacturing
- Intelligent Automation for Composites Part Manufacturing: Internet-of-Things (IoT) with RFID sensors

Note the day two keynote, which I have underlined. This presentation, by Perry Moore, director, 777X Wing Operations, at the Boeing Co., will be the first public discussion by Boeing about the carbon fiber composite wings being developed for the 777X. Unlike it does with the 787, Boeing is fabricating the 777X wings in-house in a purpose-built plant being erected in Everett, WA. The wings represent some of the largest carbon fiber composite structures ever fabricated.

777X. Rendering.

Finally, for the first time since 2012 Chris Red, in his pre-conference seminar on Dec. 8, will update his carbon fiber supply and demand data, which is highly coveted and always offers a variety of signals about where and how carbon fiber use is evolving and maturing. This table, but 2012, offers a glimpse of the kind of data that you can expect this year:

2012 carbon fiber supply data from Chris Red, prinicpal of
Composites Forecasts & Consulting LLC.

We look forward to seeing you in a few weeks at Carbon Fiber 2015. Visit for more information, and to register.

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