Biz Briefs

Business news from Teijin, Airbus, Coriolis, FORMAX, Cytec, Sigmatex, Aircelle and Swift Engineering.

On April 1, Teijin Ltd. (Tokyo, Japan) opened the Teijin Composites Application Center (TCAC), a technical facility dedicated to the development of automotive and other industrial applications of carbon fiber-reinforced thermoplastic (CFRTP) products. The TCAC, sited in Auburn Hills, Mich., is part of Teijin Advanced Composites America Inc. (TACA), a company Teijin established in December 2011 to conduct marketing and develop applications for CFRTP composite products. TACA is a wholly owned subsidiary of Teijin Holdings USA Inc., the Teijin Group’s U.S. holding company. Teijin’s CFRTP business is centered on its recently revealed production technology said to be capable of high-volume production of CFRTP components, achieving cycle times of less than one minute. Teijin maintains that the breakthrough process can measure up to the automotive industry’s “part-per-minute” standard and represents a long stride toward the increasing use of carbon fiber in automobiles and other products. In December 2011, Teijin signed an agreement with General Motors (Detroit, Mich.) to codevelop advanced carbon fiber composites for potential high-volume use in GM production cars, trucks and crossovers.

Airbus (Toulouse, France) reported on April 5 that final assembly of the first A350 XWB is underway at the new final assembly line in Toulouse. Airbus has started joining the 19.7m/64.6-ft-long center fuselage with the 21m/68.9-ft-long front fuselage. This first A350 XWB airframe will be used for the static structural tests. The assembly of the first flying A350 XWB, MSN1, will start during summer.

Coriolis Composites Technologies (Queven, France) has contracted with Astrium SAS’ Astrium Space Transportation business unit to supply an automated fiber placement (AFP) robot. Coriolis has developed robot-based AFPs for aircraft OEMs but the Astrium contract is its first for a space program. The equipment will be used at Astrium Les Mureaux, near Paris. The company also announced that it has supplied its first 0.125-inch (3.18-mm) fiber placement robot to Technische Universität Munich (TUM, Munich, Germany) under a partnership between GE Global Research (Munich, Germany) and TUM for carbon composite R&D. The machine will be used to build wind turbine blades, jet engine parts and components for oil and gas applications.

Reinforcements manufacturer FORMAX (Leicester, U.K.) reported on March 5 the formation of a research collaboration with the Polymer and Composite Engineering (PaCE) group based at Imperial College (London, U.K.). The project will focus on developing a novel binding chemistry for both short- and long-fiber composites to improve the processability of carbon preforms in resin transfer molding (RTM) and infusion processes and enhance finished carbon composite’s mechanical performance. The company’s R&D team is working with PaCE members Prof. Alexander Bismark and Dr. Koon-Yang Lee.

Cytec Industries Inc. (Woodland Park, N.J.) reported on April 4 that its Engineered Materials business has been awarded a 10-year contract to supply structural composite and adhesive materials for the Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China Ltd. (COMAC) C919 single-aisle commercial aircraft. The contractee, Shanghai Aircraft Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (SAMC), will meet the majority of the company’s composite material requirements. To date, COMAC has 235 orders for the C919. The aircraft is currently in design validation.

Sigmatex UK (Runcorn, U.K.) reported on March 13 that it has entered into a textile partnership with Innegra Technologies (formerly Innegrity LLC, Simpsonville, S.C.) to develop complex structural applications, using the latter’s Innegra S high-modulus polypropylene (HMPP) fiber, in combination with other high-modulus fibers. Key solutions include 2-D woven, unidirectional, multiaxial (noncrimp) and 3-D textiles across a broad range of industries. (Simpsonville-based Circle Creek Holdings purchased the assets of Innegrity LLC on Sept. 19 last year.)

The Safran group’s Aircelle (Paris, France) business unit, a maker of jet engines, reported that on April 4, its management team had signed an agreement to enlarge the scope of jet engine thrust reverser and nacelle repair services performed by Applied Composites Engineering (ACE, Indianapolis, Ind.) in the U.S. The pact sets the framework to expand ACE’s activities for Aircelle with jet engines that power regional commercial jets and business jets in the Americas. Since early 2009, ACE has serviced Aircelle-manufactured thrust reversers on three regional airliners: Embraer’s ERJ 145, ERJ 170 and ERJ 175.

In April, Swift Engineering Inc. (San Clemente, Calif.) opened its new onsite, state-of-the-art composite manufacturing and preparation center. Its centerpiece, a 30-ft long by 10-ft diameter (9.1m by 3m) custom-built autoclave, was installed in early March — the first of two new purpose-built autoclaves that will eventually cure parts at the facility. After nine months in design and build stages, the 90,000-lb (40.8-metric-tonne) structure from autoclave specialists ASC Process Systems (Valencia, Calif.) was installed into a recessed floor designed to ease the process and efficiency of loading and unloading the large autoclave. Swift’s president, Jan Wesley Refsdal, says, “Expanding our manufacturing capabilities to be able to produce larger complex composite structures that meet Nadcap’s stringent requirements is vital to Swift’s continued growth and service to our high-profile aerospace partners, going forward.” Swift’s new 15,000-ft2/1,394m2 onsite manufacturing and preparation center uses an existing building that, until late last year, housed Swift’s 50 percent scale rolling road wind tunnel.