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March 2005
Editorial - 3/1/2005

HPC publisher Judy Hazen (second from right), dining at the recent SAMPE Tech Conference with (right to left) The Nordam Group's Kevin Jackson and Shelley Sinclair, and consultant Sandi Taylor. We're off to several events in the coming weeks. One is the Institute for Defense and Government Advancement's third annual

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Posted on: 3/1/2005
High-Performance Composites

We're off to several events in the coming weeks. One is the Institute for Defense and Government Advancement's third annual Lightweight Materials for Defense conference (Arlington, Va., March 1-2), for which HPC is a media partner. Speakers from the research laboratories of NASA and the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force will focus on lightweight materials designed to meet or exceed requirements for the Pentagon's Future Combat Systems and Future Force Warrior initiatives. Other topics include parts consolidation and design for multifunctionality. Yes! And we'll do a follow-up report in the May issue of HPC, which also will include our preview of the upcoming SAMPE '05 Conference.

On a related subject, I've received numerous positive e-mails regarding the feature article "Designing-in Corrosion Resistance," published in the December 2004 issue of HPC's sister publication Composites Technology. The article was taken from a larger, first-of-its-kind corrosion prevention publication called A Program Management Guide for Selecting Materials, by David H. Rose. Rose is the director of the Advanced Materials and Process Technology Information Analysis Center (AMPTIAC), an organization sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense. A recent federally funded study estimates that corrosion costs the DoD over $20 billion (USD) annually. The new publication will offer guidance to military engineers on how to select materials for corrosion prevention and control. Although Rose's article ran in CT because it covers a broad range of military systems, many of which will use fiberglass, HPC readers can read the article at www.compositesworld.com and find out more at AMPTIAC's Web site: amptiac.alionscience.com.

The e-mailed comments had a common theme: "It's great that the military is beginning to appreciate the corrosion benefits of composite materials." We think it's great, too. While most of the extraordinarily strong, lightweight materials we know today have been developed in response to the high performance required for military applications, we think corrosion resistance is one area that has been overlooked. This new publication may open some eyes.

In this month's "Speaking Out" column (p. 11), ACG's aerospace manager Chris Ridgard issues a call for industry cooperation that HPC would like to second. We've written extensively about the AGATE program, funded by NASA and the FAA to develop and then share with end-users a body of basic material property data generated from standardized material specs and test methods. Composites manufacturers could then use the materials on certified aircraft after executing a brief and much less expensive test program to establish "equivalency."

Originally intended to serve the needs of small aircraft manufacturers, this program has ramifications for the entire composites aerospace sector. For example, the issue of materials certification looms large in the commercial helicopter market, where the percentage of composites use is a small fraction of that used in military rotorcraft. While there is more than one reason for the imbalance, several companies interviewed for our civil helicopter article on p. 38 told HPC their reluctance to move into more composite structures was based on stringent FAA requirements that make materials qualification cost-prohibitive. Several major companies are already adopting the AGATE model, and we join Chris in urging others to join in.

Finally, we're introducing "Testing Tech," a new column written By Dr. Don Adams, which will appear in every issue of HPC. Dr. Adams is a well known expert in composite materials analysis, testing and design. He holds a Ph.D in theoretical and applied mechanics from the University of Illinois, is active in the test methods committees of ASTM and MIL-HDBK-17 and is the emeritus professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Wyoming, where he directed the composites research group for 27 years. We're honored to have Dr. Adams working with us, and we know our readers will benefit from his experience.

At the end of March, we will head off to the SAMPE Europe/JEC meeting in Paris. We hope to see you there.

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