Someone told me recently that there doesn't seem to be a lot going on in the industry right now, which took me a little by surprise, to tell you the truth. Maybe it seems that way at first glance, but I think you'll agree that our articles in this issue highlight three huge markets for composites, any of which could change these dog days of summer to doggone busy days.
In our article about the growing electric power transmission market (see p. 29), you'll read about the huge advantages that composite poles, cross-arms and composite-reinforced power transmission cables have over the wood and metal products they're designed to replace. More importantly, industry sources say that the utility sectors' reluctance to accept new materials is slowly being overcome.
"Inside Manufacturing" (p. 46) profiles a highly automated inline production process that combines compounding and molding of long-fiber-reinforced thermoplastics (LFRTs). This and similar approaches have had an impact on the manufacture of structural parts for automakers like BMW. The relatively recently developed system already is installed in no less than 28 manufacturing facilities, and I think it's clear that LFRT represents a real breakthrough for high production manufacturing not just in the automotive industry, but in other mass-production markets, as well.
In our automotive aftermarket feature (p. 38), composite parts fabricators are part of a huge, multi-billion-dollar consumer juggernaut that promises only to get bigger. Carbon fiber plays a key role, setting the standard not only for product performance but the aesthetic as well, as youthful enthusiasts in the hot "tuner" segment crave the "look" of woven carbon fabrics.
Composites in Alternative Energy
There's certainly a lot going on in our part of the composites world. Our staff is busy planning the fifth in our series of books that look at specific markets where composites are having a significant impact. The latest, called Composites in Alternative Energy - a Design and Application Guide, examines the use of composite materials in wind energy, fuel cells, alternative fuel storage and handling, and ocean energy applications. We're looking for sponsors interested in establishing leadership in this growing sector. To take part in the creation of this invaluable resource, see p. 51 for more info and don't hesitate to give us a call at (303) 467-1776. We plan to have the new Guide ready for release by the end of the year, and our group of knowledgeable contributing writers is already hard at work.
Speaking of writers, we are looking for another well-qualified contributor with expertise in automotive or aerospace to expand our editorial capacities for 2005. Interested? See the "Contributing Writers" classified ad in the "Marketplace" (p. 50) or check out an expanded description of writer qualifications and job responsibilities.
And as if that wasn't keeping us busy enough, we're getting ready to kick off the trade show season. We'll start in Shanghai with the China Composites Show, followed by the RP Asia show in Bangkok, Thailand. Back in the U.S.A., we'll take in the SPE Automotive Composites Conference in Detroit, then on to Tampa, Fla. for COMPOSITES 2004 (see our preview of ACMA's annual trade event, complete with exhibitor list, product/service directory and show floor map, on p. 18).
Seems like a lot going on to me. Enjoy the rest of your summer, and see you at the shows!