Well, it’s show season again. By the time you read this, the Composites Technology staff will have attended four industry trade shows or conferences since the beginning of March. It’s hectic yet exhilarating at the same time – what a great time for the composites industry. Business is booming globally. We’re seeing sustained growth and end-market diversification like never before. Though the fiberglass market is seeing some global shifting, the use of glass-reinforced composites is growing, and high-end glass producers are upgrading their product lines and introducing value-added products for profitability. Meanwhile, every carbon fiber manufacturer is adding capacity, and aerospace manufacturers are ramping up fast, with Boeing’s 787 rushing toward its July 2007 launch date (I believe they will meet the deadline) while Airbus designs its new “composite aircraft” the A350 XWB. Other traditional markets are holding up as well. Even though the new housing market has slowed in the U.S., building and construction goods like solid surface and bath products are hanging in there, thanks to rental increases and the burgeoning do-it-yourself remodeling market.
Currently using around 15 percent of the composite materials sold, the corrosion sector represents an immense and yet still largely untapped growth market. Our coverage of the Underground Construction Technology Conference (UCTC) held in early February in Houston demonstrates the point – composites, an unbeatable material for new and rehab projects in highly-corrosive applications, will win less than 1 percent of the $31 billion dollars that will be spent in 2007 for underground construction (see our show coverage on p. 23. And our corrosion sector coverage also includes the “Inside Manufacturing” feature on p. 36, which explains how a Canadian company provided a low-cost but high-tech dual-laminate pipe solution for an international company building a chemical plant in China.
I’m looking forward to taking this issue of Composites Technology to the upcoming 2007 Conference on Construction, Corrosion and Infrastructure Composites, sponsored by the American Composites Manufacturers Assn. (ACMA) in Las Vegas on April 27. This conference was established by The SPI in the 1970s, largely through the efforts of Dr. Frank Cassis. Frank, who was a great innovator and tireless worker in the development of isopolyester resin formulations and applications died in late February (see p. 13). Sadly, this year’s conference will be bereft without Frank.
On March 15, our CompositesWorld group announced the advent of two new conferences this year – Carbon Fiber 2007 and High Performance Fibers 2007. Leading these conferences will be Scott Stephenson and Ralph Jessie, who joined CompositesWorld in March. Carbon Fiber 2007, which will be held Dec. 5-7, 2007 at the Marriott Washington Hotel (Washington, D.C.), is designed for executives from leading fiber suppliers, end-users, fiber converters, prepreggers and composite parts manufacturers. Discussions will focus on market opportunities, new technology and production processes to streamline manufacturing and reduce costs. Two preconference seminars on Dec. 5 will give attendees a look at the latest market developments and technology. High Performance Fibers 2007 will be held Nov. 28-29, 2007, at the same venue. It is designed for fiber manufacturing executives and covers the diverse business opportunities and technical challenges that lie ahead in high-growth fiber applications, such as body and vehicular armor and aerospace markets.
We are more than pleased to welcome Scott and Ralph to the CompositesWorld family and look forward to hosting these important industry gatherings. We’re currently developing the program and speaker lineup and sponsorships for both events. If you’re interested in participating, please contact me at email@example.com or Scott Stephenson at firstname.lastname@example.org or (207) 334-8818. See you at an upcoming show!