"Performance" seems to be the password to this issue of High-Performance Composites. Every article demonstrates the incredibly high expectations engineers place on composite materials and how new material options and improved processing technologies keep meeting those expectations.
Technologies used since the beginning to make critical structural components are constantly being improved to make precision parts that are not only stronger but less expensive, as well. The feature on p. 27, Improving Autoclave Performance, discusses new systems that can be calibrated to monitor the cure cycle as well as control every aspect of the environment within an autoclave, virtually ensuring optimal cure.
Inside Manufacturing (p. 37) walks through a well-established plant, which hand lays up metal bonded products (usually thought of as a costly, labor-intensive process), priding itself on using its experience combined with the latest techniques and materials to produce thousands of precision aerospace parts at a competitive price.
There is a lot of interest and R&D funding going into armor for soldiers, police and firefighters these days. New Options in Personal Ballistic Protection on p. 23 discusses both traditional materials currently in use and new materials and forms that can be tailored for specific types of threats and environmental conditions.
In Europe, a Dutch company employing cutting edge design capability and RTM has readied the first-ever composite landing gear for qualification on the NH90 helicopter. The Focus on Design article on p. 44 discusses the design and testing of the specific components. Tests are proving the viability of this application and could open the door to the market for lightweight helicopter and aircraft landing gear.
This issue of HPC goes along with the staff to the International SAMPE/JEC Conference in early April. We have worked for the last three years to become truly global in our coverage and always look forward to this event. Thanks to the willingness of companies around the world to share their knowledge we have been able to disseminate information to a wide geographic audience. That said, one would be very isolated indeed not to feel the weight of the current international situation - from fear of terrorism and the threat of war to conflicts between old friends and allies. As we all travel from our homes to this international gathering, our hope is for safe travel for all and unanimity with our friends towards our goal of the application of composite materials to solve a few of the world's problems.