IBEX 2012 (Oct. 2-4 in Louisville, Ky., USA) opened with former U.S. Census director Steve M. Murdock as keynote speaker, who discussed demographic trends in the U.S. population and how they will affect boating. A special market intelligence session was also held, featuring experts on the U.S. economy and boating/sports markets. Many exhibitors noted that IBEX attendance reflected the continued sluggishness in marine, and although they continue to see positive signs, believe the peaks that once followed slowdowns are a thing of the past. Comments were made that this was the best IBEX in three years, as well as surprise at the lack of talk about new styrene labeling and its possible implications on the industry.
IBEX composites seminars continued to look forward, urging continued improvement in materials, design and processing (e.g. Vacuum Bag Basics, Cure Cycles and Post Curing, Vacuum Infusion for Carbon Fiber Laminates), but also exploring opportunities overseas (Global Production Boatbuilding) and how manufacturers can improve efficiency and costs (Cost and Efficiency of Resin Infusion, Lightweight Composite Technology for Improving Efficiency). Composites Consulting Group (DeSoto, Texas) presented test results comparing single-bagged vs. double-bagged vacuum infusion, evaluating what value, if any, the latter has for marine applications, as well as the effect of other process variables. There was one seminar on composites regulatory issues.
In the Composites Pavillion exhibit booths, kitting was a key trend, from cores and prefabricated stringers and bulkheads, to pre-cut and pre-seamed vacuum bag materials. New exhibitors included long-time marine supplier Tri-Tex (Satin-Eustache, Quebec, Canada) with East System (a 25-year history in the name with no relation to West System) epoxy laminating and infusion resins and fairing compounds. Also, ACMOS Inc. (Lutherville, Md. and Bremen, Germany), a release systems supplier with a 26-year history in the U.S, exhibited its new ACMOScoat 82-9100 semipermanent release that saves 30 percent in application time by demolding more parts per application. Creatis LLC (Millersburg, Ind.), offers Phantom Veil polyester and glass fiber veil printed with one of more than 30 “standard” designs (e.g. camouflage, brick, marble, wood) or with a custom logo.
CCP Composites (Kansas City, Mo.) publicized its CCP University annual schedule of more than eight hands-on training courses, offered across the U.S., with topics including Tooling Construction, Gelcoat Application and Patching, and Closed Molding/LRTM/CCBM/VIP. The company also provides the industry renowned Cookbook applications guide via a digital CD and on its site: www.ccpcompositesus.com. Also, CCP’s FIREBLOCK resin will be used in a São Paulo monorail project.
Composite Fabrics of America (Taylorsville, N.C.) exhibited its full line of advanced woven products, including proprietary TEXTRAL 3k and 12k carbon fiber fabrics featuring unique weaves that create a visual impact. Regional sales director, Jack Loudermilk, describes, “Leveraging our parent company’s extensive weaving expertise, we have developed technologies enabling us to weave carbon, aramid and other advanced fibers into fabric patterns that are both structurally sound and aesthetically striking. The exercise of perfecting such highly technical fabrics has created a production environment where every fabric we weave, from plain weaves, twills, and satins, to unidirectional tapes, is technically superior.” Though CFA is a three-year old company, it benefits from more than 90 years of textile experience through its parent, Schneider Mills (New York, N.Y. and Taylorsville). CFA supplies tradtional composite fabrics, more than 30 exotic TEXTRAL weaves and can create customer-exclusive designs as well as fabrics more than 80 inches in width.
Composites One (Arlington Heights, Ill.) continued its annual Closed Mold Alliance demonstrations, and promoted the newest addition to its wide array of closed molding materials and equipment: SPRAYOMER non-silicone reusable vacuum bag materials. Produced by SR Composites (Henderson, Nev.), SPRAYOMER modified natural rubbers offer extreme tear resistance and flexibility, enabling thinner, lighter weight reusable vacuum bags vs. silicone and a typical payback vs. disposable bags at 25 to 30 cycles. The base material is biodegradable and renewable, with a carbon footprint estimated at 50 percent that of synthetic rubber.
Dynabrade (Clarence, N.Y.) promoted its extensive line of vacuum dust and debris capture tools, including drills and diamond-wheel cut-off tools, offering reduced consumables costs for composites machining. For example, its orbital sander with vacuum capability extends the life of the sanding disk by sucking debris into the vacuum versus clogging the disk. Longer disk-life also reduces the number of consumable change-outs and boosts overall machining efficiency.
Engineered Bonding Solutions, LLC (Titusville, Fla.) celebrated the one-year anniversary of ACRALOCK Adhesives in August. “We are rapidly expanding to meet the interests beyond North America into Asia, Europe and South America,” says president Matt Brandli. “Our high performance composite, plastic and primerless metal bonding adhesives are quickly gaining industry approvals in transportation, architectural and marine applications.” For example, Sportsman Boats (Summerville, S.C.) is using SA10-100 to bond stringers to the hull and UV resistant SA10-40WHT for small parts.
Vectorworks Marine (Titusville, Fla.) also made note of using ACRALOCK structural methacrylate adhesives in two of its recent foreign military projects: the 145-ft RIVER HAWK patrol boat and two 70-ft M10 hovercraft for EPS Corp. (Tinton Falls, N.J.). The RIVER HAWK features infused hull, deck and structural grid. Currently believed to be the largest infused hull to-date, the project was greatly facilitated by flow modelling analysis performed by Composite Consulting Group (CCG in DeSoto, Texas). The M10 hovercraft relies on impressive 10-ft diameter, all-carbon fiber propeller ducts made from bonding together six infused arc sections. Each duct weighs only 210 lb and this new hovercraft design was able to exploit composites vs. traditional aluminum construction due to the improved fatigue and life cycle costs achieved while meeting tight weight and construction timeline requirements. The latter was enabled by CCG's and Vectorworks' infusion process engineering and ingenious construction solutions.
ITW Plexus (Danvers, Mass.) has developed the H-Series line of one-component, semi-structural urethane/silicone (hybrid) sealant adhesives offering UV resistance plus good elongation and flexibility. Described as a “green” product, it is isocyanate-free with low to no VOCs and is targeted to replace welds and metal fasteners in secondary structures, aesthetic applications and exposed bondlines.
SCIGRIP (Durham, N.C.) showcased its SG100 series of UV-resistant, two-part methacrylate adhesives. “The newly reformulated SG100 Series delivers superior adhesion properties, while requiring minimal surface preparation for bonding a wide range of materials used in boatbuilding and marine applications,” says regional sales manager, Kirk Miller. These non-yellowing adhesives can be used to bond composites, metals, or thermoplastics and the reduced surface prep. is said to cut labor costs and production cycle times.