JEC Americas 2013 was held in Boston, Mass., USA, Oct. 3-4, 2013. CompositesWorld was there has has this report of highlights from the show.
RocTool offers molding technology under license
RocTool (Charlotte, N.C.) is offering a major aerospace leader the possibility to use its Heat & Cool technologies under an exclusive global license. These technologies are already commercially used in the electronics, automotive and cosmetic industries. The move is reportedly a first of its kind for the company in that the granting of the license does not rely on royalties. Instead, RocTool will auction the license in the form of a “lump sum” valid for the duration of the patents. The exclusive license covers various Heat & Cool technologies including 3iTech and Cage System, which enable high levels of productivity when applied to composites and plastics injection; high-temperature heating (e.g., PEEK, PPD, etc.) cycle time reduction, energy improvement and better temperature control for reinforced mechanical properties.
RocTool’s technologies are expected to enable the successful aerospace group to increase its production capacity, lower its costs and more importantly, have production flexibility. Says chairman and CEO Alexandre Guichard, “Due to the peculiarities relating to aerospace (long-time qualification and relatively low volumes), this new license would allow a major aviation company or group to access these highly advanced technologies and therefore obtain a substantial advantage over their competitors.” He also adds that the warm-up time is crucial when there is a constant change of molds, noting that with RocTool’s technologies, the mold’s optimum temperature is reached in less than 1 minute vs. 2 hours.
A&P Technology expands manufacturing space
A&P Technology (Cincinnati,Ohio) has added 54,000 ft2 of manufacturing space that is expected to help the company improve its service to composite manufacturers that require optimized braided solutions. The company’s recognition as a leading supplier of high-quality reinforcements that enable faster, simpler builds and its desire to remain at the forefront of braiding technology, spurred its decision to expand.
A&P currently manufactures braided materials in two buildings totaling 112,000 ft2. Its new facilities, including two purchased buildings and one manufacturing center recently built by A&P, will increase the total available space to 166,000 ft2. This expansion enables the company to further advance its state-of-the-art braiding machinery, to create auxiliary equipment that will help A&P’s customers automate the layup of braid and to increase its production capacity.
EFT becomes exclusive supplier of eco-friendly BioMid short-cut cellulosic fiber
Engineered Fibers Technology (EFT, Shelton, Conn.) has signed an agreement with GS Consulting (Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada) and Engineered Natural Composites Corp. (ENC, Seoul, South Korea), which makes EFT the exclusive supplier of eco-friendly BioMid Short-Cut Cellulosic fiber. Available in cut lengths from 0.25 mm to 75 mm, BioMid will be offered with finishes or coatings especially suited for technical grade paper, thermoplastics, thermoset molding compound and other engineered materials applications.
BioMid was launched by GS Consulting and ENF after five years of development, in 2012, but was only available as a continuous 900-filament yarn for textiles and other continuous yarn uses. BioMid consists of extremely high-crystalline cellulose filaments — each with a diameter of 11 microns. A very high degree of crystallinity permits the fiber to be processed at temperatures as high as 680°F/360°C. Many thermoset and thermoplastic resin systems must be processed at temperatures exceeding 302°F/150°C), the point at which most natural fibers degrade. BioMid is positioned as a valuable option in laminating, molding and specialty paper situations where higher temperature processing or application would rule out the use of most other natural and some synthetic fibers.
According to co-inventor Gordon Shank, BioMid fiber has a tenacity of 8.5 g/denier and a modulus of 350 g/d. The highly uniform fiber also has a low specific gravity, on par with aramid or about half the weight of glass. He also notes that the fiber’s feedstock is wood chips, a by-product of the lumber industry, making it a fully sustainable fiber that does not compete with food croplands.
EFT can supply BioMid fibers in precision short-cut lengths with either a water dispersible finish for papermaking/slurry processing, or with various thermoplastic or thermoset compatible coatings with engineered strand integrity, to permit conveying and processing and to promote fiber/resin bonding. When used with biodegradable resins such as PLA, a true bio-composite can be produced. Says EFT managing director Robert Evans, “The availability of short-cut BioMid fiber should provide many new opportunities to engineer environmentally-friendly bio-composite products well beyond the capabilities of other currently used natural fibers. EFT looks forward to working with GS Consulting to further develop unique product formats of BioMid fiber for use as a valuable option in countless diverse applications.”
Composite data management project to bolster support for composite innovation
Materials information technology leader Granta Design (Cambridge, U.K.) announced Phase II of a project to enable effective management of composite materials information, providing essential support for organizations that are innovating in their use of composites.
The Composite Data Management project is driven by the Material Data Management Consortium (MDMC), a collaboration that develops and applies software to manage mission-critical materials data in the aerospace, defense and energy sectors. Granta demonstrated the software tools that resulted from its five-year Phase I at JEC Americas and SAMPE Tech conferences in October.
In Phase I of the project, members of the MDMC’s Composites Subcommittee (including Boeing, GE-Aviation, Honeywell, NASA, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and Rolls-Royce) guided design of a database structure to capture the complex interconnected data needed to characterize composite materials. They also specified requirements for tools to help them apply this information traceably and securely within their organizations. Granta used these findings to develop composite data management templates and tools within the leading materials information management system, GRANTA MI.
There were five areas identified in which composites pose a particular data management challenge: ensuring traceability, capturing complex interrelationships, handling anisotropy, maintaining additional variables, and capturing processing information. At the end of Phase I, a robust materials information management solution has been developed to meet these challenges. It reportedly ensured that data is easily accessible, traceable, and available for use in further analysis, and that results of this analysis can then be stored in the same system. This solution’s effectiveness has been validated through practical application by MDMC members. Phase II will draw on this experience to further advance the system, reducing risk and saving time in the development of composite structures and the products that use them.