In the second half of the year, experts are predicting an improved international economic picture. This issue's articles reflect where we are going and, with the notable exception of aerospace, things are looking up for the composites industry. In fact, some experts think the composites market is on the threshold of a sustained boom. A case in point: There was a great interest in last issue's article on wood-filled composite lumber. Several reasons were cited, but much of the interest was because this product represents a huge, largely untapped market. Impressive growth opportunities are all around us. Two articles in this issue highlight similar market conditions. In "Vinyl Ester Resins Make Tough Parts for Highly Corrosive Applications" (p. 26), we see how composites are gaining market share in large, corrosion-resistant structural parts. A single cooling tower, for example, may use tens of tons of material and, in a reversal over the last 10 years, industry experts say that 90 percent of such towers are now made of fiberglass.
On p. 38, "Inside Manufacturing" looks at a pultrusion process using newly developed thermoplastic resin technology, which will enable manufacturers to make extremely tough, versatile, pultruded profiles. In the article, a thermoplastic profile is used to make suspended tracking to support ceiling tiles, replacing aluminum tracking. The market for tough, lightweight, corrosion-resistant products from housing and automotive applications to fence posts is virtually unlimited. Think about it.
Fibers make the news in our other two articles. In "Engineering Insights," a leading boat manufacturer tells us how and why he uses woven S-2 glass to make his incredibly tough, record-breaking powerboats for offshore racing. And carbon fiber may give fiberglass a run for its money in automotive applications - if the pricing structure can be maintained. The "round up" on p. 32 reveals that carbon fiber is moving from the high-end "supercar" niche into a few more moderately priced vehicles. The downturn in commercial aerospace may be a boon to carbon fiber producers as new, lower-cost products are developed and accepted - that is, if prices remain low when commercial aerospace picks up again.
One of our goals for the summer break is to make our Web site even more useful and easy to use. To that end, in June we changed our URL to www.compositesworld.com, creating a single address for both Composites Technology and sister publication High-Performance Composites. You may want to update your bookmark.
SOURCEBOOK 2004 is coming out in November - in print and online. It will combined listings from both the SOURCEBOOK and YellowPages directories integrated into one comprehensive database. In the online version, you can search for specific products, companies and locations and find what you need - fast. This year, suppliers will be able to create or update their company listings online, as well, which will make our data gathering process not only faster and easier for listees, but minimize the risk of inaccuracy, as well.
Our other yearly summer task is lining up the next year's editorial calendar. We consider new or significantly improved processes, material developments that those of you who manufacture composites need to hear about, and we look at unique applications (and manufacturers) that those of you at OEM companies may want to evaluate. Our editorial meeting is coming up soon; we welcome your input. To let us know what you would like to see covered or to submit a project or application for editorial consideration, send an e-mail to email@example.com.
Send us your story ideas and don't forget to renew. Thanks.