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Industry News
Biz Briefs: September 2012 HPC

Business briefs from Umeco, AXSON, GKN Aerospace, HITCO, Matrix and T.E.A.M.

Author:
Posted on: 9/2/2012
High-Performance Composites

On June 28, Umeco Process Materials (Sandbeds, Keighley, U.K.) successfully completed its transition audit from AS9100:2003 revision B to revision C, Aerospace Quality Standard. Although both are based on the existing ISO 9001:2008 standard, there are several more challenges in the “rev C” system, including adherence to a process approach; project management and continuous monitoring; measurement; and, above all, improvement. Its accreditation to the AS9100C standard, says Umeco, assures the company’s aviation, space and defense customers that its quality system improves both products and services quality, as well as on-time delivery similar to the automotive industry’s TS16949 standard. Umeco’s certification to AS9100C includes all clauses of the standard, which means that Umeco can offer a full range of custom, value-added services to the aerospace sector, such as kitted vacuum consumables and reusable vacuum bags.

In early July, AXSON (Eaton Rapids, Mich.) acquired Nanoledge (Boucherville, Quebec, Canada), a portfolio company of Telesystems Ltd. (Montreal, Quebec, Canada). Nanoledge is a start-up focused on the high-performance epoxy market and, according to AXSON, has significantly improved composite material performance through its proprietary nanoblending technologies. Nanoblending combines base resins with a variety of nanoparticles (e.g., carbon nanotubes) and selected chemical additives to target specific mechanical, electrical or thermal performance improvements while maintaining compatibility with clients’ manufacturing processes. Charles Churet, chairman and CEO of AXSON, says that Nanoledge’s nanoblending technology also will be a key element in AXSON’s developmental efforts in new markets.

Oxeon (Boras, Sweden) reported on Aug. 6 that riders from the team that won Tour de France 2012 used new PRO TeXtreme disc wheels during the competition. The wheels feature TeXtreme Spread Tow carbon fabrics that reduce weight and improve mechanical performance. Professional cycling teams asked the PRO development team to design a wheel that is lighter and more aerodynamic, but with the same riding experience as PRO’s current wheels. In response to that challenge, the development team used TeXtreme technology and a carefully selected resin system to keep wheel weight below 1kg/2.2 lb (nominal weight is 975g). It has an overall wide aerofoil shape and a wide 24-mm rim. PRO’s unique wheel-building method (using an autoclave) enables a monocoque construction instead of two half shells bonded together.

GKN Aerospace (Isle of Wight, U.K.) reported on July 7 that it will provide Bell Helicopter Textron (Ft. Worth, Texas) with key metal and composite structures across the new 525 Relentless helicopter fuselage. The work package includes composite and aluminum fuselage panels and structural parts installed in the cockpit, cabin and tail boom. Manufacture will begin in late 2012, with initial deliveries scheduled for 2013 and continuing through 2015. GKN Aerospace’s North American facilities, in St. Louis, Mo., and Tallassee, Ala., will manufacture components and assemblies. The St. Louis site will supply aluminum bulkheads, frames and spars. The Tallassee site will produce composite structures, including skins, bulkheads and frame assemblies.

HITCO Carbon Composites (Gardena, Calif.) announced on July 11 that it was awarded a contract with Boeing Commercial Airplanes (Seattle, Wash.) for 777 empennage composite rib chords. HITCO will manufacture them at its Gardena facility in accordance with Boeing Process Specification 5317, using a dedicated production cell. HITCO has completed the part qualification activities for the rib chords and is beginning serial production of the parts.

The Institute for Supply Management (ISM, Tempe, Ariz.) reported on Aug. 1 that economic activity in the U.S. manufacturing sector contracted in July for the second time since July 2009; however, the overall economy grew for the 38th consecutive month. ISM’s index registered 49.8 percent. A reading of more than 50 percent indicates that the manufacturing economy is generally expanding; less than 50 percent indicates that it is generally contracting.

Matrix Composites Inc. (Rockledge, Fla.) announced on July 11 the successful completion of its transition audit for AS9100 Revision C certification. In April, representatives from the independent, third-party registrar Perry Johnson Registrars Inc. (Troy, Mich.) conducted the four-day audit of Matrix Composites’ quality management system. At the conclusion, with only one minor finding reported, Matrix Composites’ organization was found to be in compliance with the strict requirements of this most recent version of the standard. AS9100C is the international management system standard for the Aviation, Space and Defense (AS&D) industry. The latest Quality Management System, REV C, is a designation offered only to organizations that design, develop and produce aviation, space and defense products while demonstrating strict adherence to quality, reliability and safety standards. It is endorsed by all major aerospace regulators, including the U.S. Federal Aviation Admin. (FAA), the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and the National Aeronautics and Space Admin. (NASA).

T.E.A.M. Inc. (Woonsocket, R.I.) announced on July 23 that it has acquired certain assets of carbon fabric weaver Elite Carbon Fabrics LLC (Vacaville, Calif.). The acquisition includes equipment and some raw material. Separately, T.E.A.M. has hired key personnel and leased Elite’s former manufacturing facility in Vacaville, and it will restart manufacturing as Textile Engineering and Manufacturing (T.E.A.M.) – West Coast Div. Steve Clarke, T.E.A.M.’s cofounder and president, says, “This transaction not only increases our manufacturing capacity, but will also provide us with a local facility to support an expanding West Coast customer base.” T.E.A.M. is an ISO 9001- and AS9100C-certified weaver of 2-D fabrics and tapes, 3-D woven fabrics and billets and net-shape engineered preforms for resin transfer molding (RTM), infusion and ceramic-matrix composite applications. 


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