Editorial - 2/1/2005

This February issue of Composites Technology, our first of 2005, reflects the varied nature of the composites business these days. There is a lot going on, in every area you can imagine. Starting with a product as basic as mold release -- its been a concern of every manufacturer for as long as parts have been

This February issue of Composites Technology, our first of 2005, reflects the varied nature of the composites business these days. There is a lot going on, in every area you can imagine.

Starting with a product as basic as mold release -- its been a concern of every manufacturer for as long as parts have been shaped in molds. But with the many new manufacturing processes and materials being developed, the mold release used for an application can make the difference between success and failure. Selecting the right release before going into production will save money and preempt environmental problems, while ensuring you get your product to market quickly. Our feature article on mold release (see p. 30) looks at the latest products from industry leaders.

Another product type is getting a lot of attention and earning its way into the reinforcement mainstream. Multiaxial nonwoven fabrics can provide custom fiber orientation for your specific application, give higher performance by weight than woven fabric and facilitate fast laminate lay up. Once considered an expensive reinforcement form, multiaxials are coming down in cost as new textile manufacturers enter the market, better products come on line and product designers learn to optimize the benefits. See our coverage on p. 22.

"Inside Manufacturing" on p. 35 looks at the making of small, cost-effective residential/commercial grid wind blades that optimize energy generation at fairly low wind speeds (approximately 12 mph). The blade manufacturer, a specialist in bladder molding, uses its expertise to come up with several unique problem-solving techniques to keep costs low and produce a commercially viable product for small end-users.

"Engineering Insights" on p. 44 offers the most unique application I've seen in a while. Basically, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers needed a fabricator for a very large culvert structure that will be placed into a dam bypass channel through which small fish swim to avoid going over the spillway. The structure had to be really tough, lightweight, waterproof and easily repaired. Oh yes, it had to be electronically transparent, too, because it serves as an antenna to count fish that have been implanted with microchip "tags" at upstream hatcheries. Once again, composites came to the rescue. This is a great application and may prove to have huge potential for similar uses. I'm just glad I'm not the one putting the microchips in all those little fish!

This year, we've decided to feature pre-conference coverage of the POLYCON 2005 show in Nashville. As we reviewed our past industry coverage, we decided we needed to pay more attention to the technology and manufacturing methods in this end of the industry, since over 3,500 of our readers are involved with cast polymer products. We'll feature a wrapup from the show in our April issue. If you're going to POLYCON, look us up in Booth #231! And you exhibitors? Stop by and let us know about your new product offerings. See you there!