JEC Composites Show Product Showcase

Composites professionals converged in Paris in greater numbers than ever before, confident that the market’s global growth will continue.
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At the 2008 edition of JEC COMPOSITES Show, held April 1-3 at the Paris Expo in Porte de Versailles, Paris, France, an increasingly global group of composites industry representatives had exchanged the generally upbeat mood seen at the 2007 show for one of confidence, both in the current business climate and in their expectations for future growth. In the months leading up to the show, composites manufacturers and their suppliers were no longer hoping for orders, they were spending — on new facilities, expanded capacity, mergers and acquisitions and new product development — to meet delivery schedules.

The industry’s good fortune was clearly reflected in the numbers: Show organizers reported that a record total of 27,000 industry professionals from 96 nations were on hand for all or part of the three-day event. The JEC Group released market research figures that show the industry has grown in annual volume by an average of 4.1 percent since 1999, with 6.5 percent annual growth from 2001 to 2005, driven primarily by the wind energy, electrical/electronics and construction markets. Although marine composites growth was slower in Europe and North America, marine applications experienced strong growth in Asia — 14 percent from 1999 to 2005.

In the Paris Expo hall, JEC reports that 1,053 exhibitors had displays on the event’s largest-ever 43,500m2 (468,230 ft2) show floor. CT staffers were on hand, and reported the following:

ABB France, Robotics Div. (Saint-Ouen l’Aumone, France) demonstrated its IRB52 robot, designed for gel coating small parts. The system is explosion-proof and meets European ATEX fire and explosion regulations for products that contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Also on display was a new robotic system, IRB6660, for cutting and machining glass and carbon fiber-reinforced plastics, which was said to be competitive with CNC cutters at one-half to one-third the cost.

Advanced Composites Group Ltd. (ACG, Heanor, Derbyshire, U.K.) displayed new structural resins, including epoxies for the marine industry, as well as the DForm Deformable Composite System Technology for tooling. The latter is an aligned discontinuous fiber prepreg material made with 48-inch/1200-mm wide unidirectional tape that is selectively slit in a discrete pattern, with the slits at a 45° angle to the axis of the tape. Each slit or cut is approximately 50 mm/2 inches long, effectively creating a web of discontinuous fibers. This construction permits the prepreg to better conform to mold contours, avoiding wrinkles and improving drapability.

Distributor Aero Consultants Ltd. AG (Nänikon-Uster, Switzerland, 50) demonstrated its new ceramic tools, including the X-Drill bit and CeraCut Router, in cooperation with Advanced Ceramics Research Inc. (Tucson, Ariz., 30). The new tools, designed to cut both carbon fiber- and glass fiber-reinforced composites and other nonmetallic materials, are reportedly harder than comparable carbide tools and have a longer wear life.

AGY Holdings LLC (Aiken, S.C.) unveiled its new S-Series range of glass fiber products. Two new products complement the company’s original high-performance S-2 Glass: S-1 Glass, an industrial grade product, and S-3 Glass, a “special” grade product. S-1 Glass is designed for high-volume applications where traditional E-glass performance falls short. Targeted markets include thermoset and long-fiber thermoplastic applications in markets that include wind energy, compressed natural gas (CNG) storage, and oil and gas, ballistics and transportation. S-3 Glass can be customized. It is targeted toward aerospace applications. For the military vehicle armor market, the company introduced two new glass fibers: Featherlight glass fibers are designed for ultrahigh-performance threat levels, providing 5 percent to 10 percent better protection than AGY’s standard S-2 Glass fiber composite armor. Quicksilver glass fibers are designed to provide significantly stronger, stiffer and lighter composite parts than traditional E-glass reinforcements. They are designed to be a cost-effective solution where weight is deemed to be less of a concern. 40
Ahlstrom Glass Nonwovens (Kotka, Finland), which recently took steps to double glass fiber capacity at its U.S. plant in Bishopville, S.C., announced further capital investment to meet demand specifically in the wind energy market, which the company predicts will grow by 20 percent or more. At Bishopville, a first phase this year involves an investment of approximately $4.62 million to install new machinery. The second phase, in 2009-2011, will include the installation of new production lines at a projected cost of approximately $6.16 million.

Airtech Europe SA (Differdange, Luxembourg) brought to JEC its new Dahlar Release Bag 460 LFT-G, a small-bore tubular film product developed for the manufacture of high-performance hollow parts. “LFT-G” stands for lay-flat tubing gusseted. The bag is a multilayer construction that combines a vacuum bag film with a release film to provide a single product with high-vacuum performance that will remove easily from within cured tubular composite laminates (see photo, p. 38). The company says the product’s gusseted design makes it easier to position in hollow parts than traditional lay-flat bag material — under pressure, the bag tubing will expand to fit the internal shape of the tubular part. Suitable part applications include bicycle components, yacht masts and other hollow products. Bag diameters range from 2 inches to 22 inches (50 mm to 560 mm) in lengths up to 15 ft/4.5m.

AKSA (Akrilic Kimya Sanayii AS, Istanbul, Turkey) highlighted its projected production of AKSACA 6K, 12K and 24K carbon fiber, made from its apparel-grade acrylic-based precursor. Initially, the company will produce 34 metric tonnes (about 75,000 lb) per year, which will increase to 1,500 metric tonnes (3.3 million lb) by the third quarter of 2009. Projected performance is 33.4 Msi (230,285 MPa) tensile modulus and 696 ksi (4,798 MPa) tensile strength.

Axel Plastics Research Laboratories Inc. (Woodside, N.Y.) showed several new mold release products. MoldWiz 985JB is a concentrated water-based mold release designed to reduce hazardous volatile emissions in SMC/BMC molding operations. It’s said to be an easy-wetting, quick-drying solution that is 36 percent active and dilutable with tap water. Also new is a water-based XTEND release system for wind blade production, comprising a water-based mold sealer, WS-47, and a matte finish mold release, W-7838D. Both are recommended for spray application on either ambient or heated tools for multiple releases of epoxy or polyester parts. MoldWiz WB-2700, a new, silicone-free water-based mold release that comprises fatty acids, polyolefins and surfactants, is designed for compression molding and resin transfer molding (RTM) of polyester, vinyl ester and epoxy parts, as well as filament winding. XTEND 840, a new solvent-based semipermanent release, is said to provide gloss and durability for RTM, with surface tension suitable for gel-coated “A” sides in RTM molding, but chemical resistance and release performance sufficient for “B” sides and nongel-coated parts.

Axson Technologies (Cergy, France) showed a number of new products. Among them was Epolam 2090 high-temperature epoxy resin, offered in combination with the company’s GC1 gel coat in a new infusion system that benefits from the resin’s low viscosity and the gel coat’s resistance to high temperatures. Also new was LAB 970, a machinable epoxy slab used to fabricate models or molds with high surface finish for low-temperature prepreg systems; and a mass casting technology used to produce models and parts quickly and as close to final form as possible. Several rapid prototyping resins also were on display.

Bayer MaterialScience (Leverkusen, Germany) spotlighted an extensive array of polyurethane applications for automotive, marine and transport markets. Leading the way was the Multitec Short Fiber polyurethane spray system for open-mold processing, which is said to be capable of a range of surface finishes from Class A to “soft touch,” making it especially suitable for automotive applications. The system is being used to produce radiator grilles by PARAT AUTOMOTIVE Schönenbach GmbH + Co. KG: A thermoformed “paint” film is robotically back-injected in an open mold using Short Fiber technology. The system applies several short-glass-reinforced layers, each of which requires only a few minutes to cure and requires no postcure. Also new was a sandwich composite material/process that replaces honeycomb or paper cores with a thermoplastic (polycarbonate) core bonded together with the Baypreg F polyurethane spray. The polycarbonate core is embedded between two glass-fiber facing layers and impregnated from both sides with a heat-activated, two-component Baypreg F polyurethane, using a spray system. The result is compression molded at 130°C to 140°C (266°F to 284°F) and needs no postcure. Bayer Bayflex 180 polyurethane also is being used to produce the rear bumper on Audi’s new supercar, the R8 (see photo, p. 33). On display at the stand was a prototype roof module for the Opal Corsa, made with polyurethane resins and a sandwich core layup that results in a 25 percent weight savings over a metal roof.

Bodycote Materials Testing AB (Linköping, Sweden) attracted attention with its new Windblast ultrasonic inspection system for wind turbine blades. It’s used to detect porosity and delaminations in the blade skin as well as lack of adhesion in bonded blade parts, including leading and trailing edges. The system is designed specifically to address fast inspection of large or contoured laminates. It consists of a motorized scanner trolley with an ultrasonic transducer and includes a multi-element configuration for use on small-radius surfaces. The sensor head can be adapted to both through-transmission and pulse echo, reportedly making it suitable for leading and trailing edge inspection. The scanner and multi-element sensor head can be carried by one operator and come equipped with a display that facilitates operator control.

Bond-Laminates GmbH (Brilon, Germany) displayed several sports-related applications of its TEPEX fiber-reinforced thermoplastic sheet products, including snowboard bindings, Nordic ski boots and bicycle helmets. The company reported that its TEPEX dynalite glass/polyamide 6 materials are used in the BMW M3 bumper. The thermoplastic composite beam is manufactured by Jacob Composite GmbH (Wilhelmsdorf, Germany) and reportedly results in a weight reduction of more than 50 percent (7.1 kg/15.6 lb for an aluminum beam; 3.1 kg/6.8 lb for the composite), with three to four times the crash performance of a steel beam.

BYK Additives & Instruments, part of BYK-Chemie GmbH (Wesel, Germany), introduced BYK-C 8000, a polymeric coupling agent for filled radical curing systems, such as polymer concrete and solid surface products. The additive, says the company, creates genuine chemical bonds between resin and filler, thus improving flex strength, compressive strength, tensile strength and impact resistance in the finished product by up to 50 percent. Also new are BYK-S 780, BYK-S 781 and BYK-S 782, a range of additives developed to provide tack-free surfaces on unsaturated polyester resins. BYK-S 780 is designed for use with vinyl esters and also is suitable for orthophthalic resins. BYK-S 781 is designed for DCPD-modified and low-HAP resins and is suitable for orthophthalic and isophthalic resins. BYK-S 782 is designed for orthophthalic, isophthalic and low-HAP resins and is suitable for high-temperature applications.

Cam Elyaf Sanayii AS (Kocaeli, Turkey), a subsidiary of Sisecam Group and a producer of E-glass fiber and unsaturated polyesters, displayed its range of materials, including its new single-end roving (WR 5, WR 6), for woven and multiaxial reinforcements, and emulsion bonded mat (EMAT1) for open molding applications. The company’s CE 75M orthophthalic polyester is targeted to quartz-based composite stone and solid surface production. 200
Celanese Emulsion Polymers (Dallas, Texas) introduced Vinamul 8868, a vinyl acetate emulsion for sizing application on direct roving. This functionalized polymer dispersion is compatible with epoxy resins and dispersions and can be added at loadings in the 50 to 70 percent range. The emulsion is said to have a fine particle size and compatibility with sizing additives, such as organosilanes and lubricants. The company reported good results in tests of tension and elongation in molded products made with rovings that incorporate the sizing, particularly in filament winding applications.

Cogemoule (Bellignat, France), a well-known, 40-year-old European tool and mold producer, touted its toolmaking services for injection molding, rotational molding and gravity casting as well as its expertise in the construction of composite tools. The company reported its recent purchase of a new 5-axis, high-speed machining center, capable of machining composites, aluminum and steel.

Cotech Inc. (San-gan, Taichung, Taiwan, R.O.C.), an integrator of composites technology into electrical and communications applications, such as computer notebooks and Bluetooth wireless phones, showcased recent projects. Notable were a composite high-precision, high-frequency radio wave antenna for an atmospheric research observatory in Mauna Loa, Hawaii, and several ablative and aerospace applications. Products are engineered and manufactured in Taiwan, according to company founder and president Ching-Long Ong.

Cytec Engineered Materials’ (Tempe, Ariz.) stand showcased a rear pressure bulkhead fabricated using a new version of the company’s PRIFORM material. Developed to enable infusion of preforms with toughened epoxy, standard PRIFORM incorporates the thermoplastic toughening agent usually formulated into the epoxy resin: the thermoplastic is spun into fibers and woven into the fiber form. New Veil Non-Crimped Fabric (VNCF), however, incorporates the toughening agent as a hot-blown soluble veil, which can be interleaved with carbon or other fiber tape reinforcements to form a nonwoven and, therefore, noncrimp fabric. As with the standard version of PRIFORM, resin infusion can take place using an untoughened Cytec epoxy resin designed with a viscosity low enough to facilitate fiber wetout. During cure processing, the veil dissolves and intermixes with the epoxy resin matrix, providing the toughening component that lends the matrix its desired impact-resistant properties.

A newcomer on the world stage, first-time JEC exhibitor Dalian Xingke Carbon Fiber Co. (Dalian City, China) is also the first Chinese enterprise to successfully commercialize carbon fiber. The company announced that it has boosted fiber production from its startup capacity of about 794,000 lb (360 metric tonnes) per year in 2003 to between 1.32 million lb and 1.76 million lb (600 and 800 metric tonnes) today.

DIAB (Laholm, Sweden) highlighted its many customer applications and spotlighted its expansion of DIAB Technologies, the group within the company that works with customers to provide laminate design, process optimization, training, testing and auditing. New products on the stand included GS 60, a new grid-scored, conformable foam core material with larger grids (60-mm square vs. the standard 30-mm square grid). Recommended for moderately curved or flat mold surfaces, the material reduces resin use by up to 50 percent, says the company. Also on display: Divinycell HP, a high-temperature foam core compatible with prepreg layup.

Although the new machines weren’t on the JEC show floor, Dieffenbacher GmbH + Co. KG (Eppingen, Germany) introduced two new generations of compression molding machines, the COMPRESS ECO and the COMPRESS PLUS (see photo, p. 34). The new COMPRESS PLUS was developed to reduce energy consumption by 50 percent over the previous generation. Following high-speed closure, the cylinders are mechanically locked so that press force can be built up over a piston stroke of only 200 mm/7.9 inches instead of stroke lengths ranging between 1600 mm and 2400 mm (63 inches and 94.5 inches). The increased closing speed reportedly allows for shorter closing times, even with long press strokes. New on the COMPRESS ECO is the PROGUIDE control system, which enables quick changes in processing parameters activated via either touch-screen or keyboard. Another improvement includes reduced oil volumes to minimize energy consumption. The company also received a JEC Innovation Award as part of the team that produces the Smart Car smartfortwo rear decklid, using the Dieffenbacher LFT-D direct long-fiber thermoplastic compounding/molding process.

Dow Epoxy Systems (Midland, Mich.) introduced its new trademarked AIRSTONE resin systems for the wind energy market, available both in Europe and in the U.S. This family of products includes resins for infusion, hand layup, tooling and adhesives. Multiple product grades allow customers to tailor their final products. According to the company, the products have been developed from proven epoxy chemistry and technologies and are formulated to make wind turbine blades stronger, yet reduce overall blade weight.

Epsilon Pultrusion, a div. of Epsilon Composite (Gaillan en Medoc, France), described its know-how in pultrusion and pullwinding of carbon fiber profiles and tubes. The company is in the process of doubling its manufacturing capacity, from 230 metric tonnes per year to 500 metric tonnes (507,000 lb to 1.1 million lb) and expects to have 20 production lines in place by 2010.

Design and manufacturing simulation software provider ESI Group (Paris, France) announced its partnership with ITOOL, a European project coordinated by EADS Innovation Works (Munich, Germany), which provides an integrated simulation software tool for dry-fiber textile preforming technologies. ITOOL virtual-manufacturing simulation incorporates preform construction, draping and impregnation, followed by prediction of mechanical performance of the manufactured part. The company also announced the release of the 2008 version of its PAM-RTM (resin transfer molding) simulation tool, a software application for manufacturing composites by injection or infusion. The software is used primarily when complex and large composite parts are required for aeronautics, automotive, marine and energy applications.

Evonik Röhm GmbH (Darmstadt, Germany) promoted its numerical finite element analysis (FEA) services, offered to its customers to help them optimize cored sandwich structures and then analyze the cored parts’ mechanical, thermal and buckling behavior. The company also can premachine, preshape and kit foam cores to enable more efficient part production. The company’s well-known ROHACELL polymethacrylimide (PMI) foam core is used by Airbus in the cocured A-stringers used to stiffen A340-600 and A380 rear pressure bulkheads.

fibertech composites GmbH (Bremen, Germany) demonstrated its fibertemp electrically heated carbon mold technology, which uses the conductivity of the carbon fiber to heat the mold face. The company claims a 90 percent energy savings over conventionally heated molds.

Fibertex A/S (Aalborg, Denmark) exhibited its range of nonwovens, including its Compoflex product, a breathable peel ply layer that can replace breather/bleeder, release film and peel ply in a vacuum bagged layup.

FORCE Technology (Broendby, Denmark) displayed its portable, handheld ultrasonic device for onsite nondestructive testing (NDT) of thick parts. Product manager Morgan Troedsson said the portable scanner is designed to detect variations in fiber orientation (waviness, wrinkles) as well as voids and delaminations in solid composite parts up to 6 inches/152 mm thick. It is particularly valuable for onsite inspection of installed wind turbine rotor blades because the blade can be inspected without removing it from the rotor. The device, which operates with water as a coupling medium, also has been used in various aircraft and marine part inspections, Troedsson said. The company also makes fully automated NDT scanner systems — with real-time 3-D presentation on a video graph for surveying larger areas — as well as a range of P-scan NDT equipment.

Formosa Plastics Corp. (Taipei, Taiwan, R.O.C.) had a large booth with many visitors. Company representatives freely discussed carbon fiber production expansion plans. The company currently operates four production lines, capable of outputting a total of about 4,000 metric tonnes (8.82 million lb) of fiber. One new line will be added this year, with another in 2009. Production from the six lines is predicted to top 10,000 metric tonnes (22.05 million lb) in 2010.

George Sahm GmbH & Co. KG (Eschwege, Germany), a first-time JEC exhibitor, showed its new 850XE Sahm Carbonstar automatic filament winder for production of carbon fiber-reinforced polymer structures. The automated machine is designed to collect tows from the processing line, accurately meter the tow lengths and then create specific winding patterns. The machine has the ability to change patterns on the fly, says the company.

Grignard Co. LLC (Newark, N.J.) introduced Mandrel Magic, a new mold release agent, in gel or spray form, for filament winding mandrels. The nontoxic, water-based release is compatible with most resins, including epoxy and polyester. The new product joins the company’s family of solvent- and water-based releases for other process applications, including Mold Magic, a combination of carnauba wax and semipermanent release chemistries, and Release-It semipermanent and water-based semipermanent release systems.

Gurit (Wattwil, Switzerland) came to the show with a host of new products. SparPreg is a unidirectional (UD) prepreg for use in thick laminate sections. Targeted primarily to wind turbine rotor blade production, the material’s breathability is said to produce high-quality laminates with low void content, without the need for intermediate debulking or additional dry fabric reinforcement to aid air removal. WE91LE is a new variant in the WE91 range that offers lower exotherm, no intermediate dwell and, thus, reduced cycle times. It can be cured at temperatures as low as 85°C/185°F and also can be used for rapid manufacture via its 65-minute cure at 120°C/248°F. It has an outlife of 60 days at 21°C/70°F. For marine applications, new SP540 PB and SP540 LV high-performance modified epoxy adhesives have working times of up to six hours for bonding large production boats. New T-Paste 70-1 marine tooling paste can be used with a range of mixing machines and has been formulated to provide good application and CNC machining properties. It’s complemented by a T-Paste 70-1 repair product, which provides seamless repair and the same performance for patterns produced using the original paste. Also new was Ampreg 21 epoxy, optimized for wet lamination of large composite structures using hand layup and vacuum bagging. Its relatively low initial mixed viscosity reportedly enables easy wetout of heavyweight reinforcements. New fire retardant systems in ST70 FR SPRINT and Ampreg 21 FR offer flammability protection for hot-melt and wet laminating processes respectively, conforming to UL94 and BS 476 Part 6 & 7 safety standards.

Henkel Corp. (Bay Point, Calif.) commercially launched Epsilon 99100, a benzoxazine resin system for resin transfer molding (RTM) and vacuum infusion molding. The company’s aerospace group is targeting the one-part high-temperature resin system, which is stable at room temperature, to aerospace applications. Its flame, smoke and toxicity performance makes it a good candidate for aircraft interiors.

Hexcel (Dublin, Calif. and Duxford, Cambridge, U.K.) celebrated its 60th anniversary at the show, highlighting the opening of three new plants: a production facility for aerospace prepreg in Nantes, France; a new carbon fiber facility in Spain, and an industrial prepreg manufacturing center in Tianjin, China, the latter to serve the wind energy market. A plethora of applications and products were on display, including Redux 870, a new two-component liquid shim adhesive; fast-curing HexPly M19 prepreg for wind blades; and HexPly XF3 surfacing film for Class A finishes on molded composite automotive body panels.

Huntsman Advanced Materials (The Woodlands, Texas) focused on auto racing at its stand, featuring a COURAGE ORECA LC70 Le Mans Series prototype developed by Hugues de Chaunac’s ORECA race team. The car’s body was developed using Huntsman’s RenShape rapid prototyping materials and Araldite resin infusion systems and adhesive products. Also on display for aerospace: resin infusion systems for the manufacture of large-scale, high-temperature molds, including trademarked Araldite LY 8615, Aradur 8615 and Aradur 5212. The company also publicized its recent recognition for environmental efforts, having received the first European Green Production Innovation of the Year Award presented by Frost & Sullivan. The company’s Azyral high-performance laminating materials were particularly cited for their environmentally friendly characteristics.

Kaneka Corp. (Toyko, Japan, Westerlo-Oevel, Belgium and Houston, Texas) displayed its core shell rubber (CSR) toughening system for epoxy resins. Predispersed in epoxy resin, the Kane Ace MX toughener disperses more easily than powdered alternatives, thus providing for easier handling and mixing.

Lectra (Paris, France) showcased its suite of cutting solutions for single-ply, low-volume prepreg materials and high-volume multilayer cutting of dry reinforcement fabrics made from glass fiber, aramid fiber and/or carbon fiber. The company claims to be the only cutting solutions provider that can supply machinery based on drag-knife, wheel, laser and oscillating-knife technologies. Also on offer was the newest VectorTechTexFX system, said to be suited to cutting a wider variety of materials. The system is designed to handle prepregged carbon fabric and multilayer dry fabrics, such as fiberglass, and reportedly can cut some core materials, such as phenolic honeycomb. Also on display was DesignConcept 3D, a multifunctional design tool that assists the user in creation of complex models, performance of feasibility analyses, cost estimation and conversion (flattening) of 3-D shapes to 2-D images for cutting purposes. 629
Lindau Chemicals Inc. (Columbia, S.C.) had on display its LINDRIDE range of liquid anhydride curing agents for epoxy resins. The company offers a high-Tg curing agent for epoxy resins that are used in pultrusion, which is adapted to the process’ shorter cure cycle, says the company.

MF Tech Srl (Argentan, France, 5774), a builder of filament winding machines based on robotic technology and controlled with CADWIND software from MATERIAL SA (Zaventum/Brussels, Belgium, 673), attracted a good deal of attention and high visitor traffic with a new articulated robotic arm. Designed for automated manufacturing lines, the 6-axis robot handles the part being produced, while a stationary creel or other device holds tow or roving.
Milliken & Co. (Spartanburg, S.C.) showcased its new NexCore core material for sandwich applications. NexCore combines double-bias fabric (any fabric can be used) and triangular polyurethane foam strips and bonds them together with a scrim to form a flat sheet. Used as a core in resin-infused composite sandwich panels, the product has greater stiffness at a lighter weight than balsa, says the company.

Nanjing Fiberglass Research & Design Institute of Sinoma Science & Technology Co. Ltd. (Nanjing, China, 7625) produces S-glass, E-glass and radar-transparent D-glass, for which PPG Industries (Pittsburgh, Pa., 1541) is the exclusive distributor in North America. PPG and Sinoma announced a 50/50 joint venture in 2005 for manufacturing fiberglass reinforcements. In January 2008, the joint venture, known as PPG Sinoma Jinjing Fiber Glass Co. Ltd., approved the addition of a third furnace at its manufacturing site in Zibo, China. Startup of the third furnace is projected for the end of this year or early 2009 and is expected to add 60,000 metric tonnes (132.3 million lb) of single-end roving production capacity annually.

NIDAPLAST (Thiant, France, 2458) held a press event to report on the company’s growth — it has doubled every four years since 1985 — and its new structure. Three divisions have been formed to sell its polypropylene honeycombs to different end markets; Nidaplast Composites produces products for the architectural, roofing, transport, industrial and wind energy markets. The company’s U.S. arm is Nida-Core Corp. (Port St. Lucie, Fla., 746).

Owens Corning Composite Solutions LLC (OC, Toledo, Ohio) spread the word about its new OCV Reinforcements unit, which is the corporate result of OC’s acquisition of the Saint-Gobain Vetrotex reinforcements business. At the show were Chuck Dana, president of OCV Reinforcements, and Arnaud Genis, formerly with Vetrotex and now VP and managing director, EU & Global Fabrics with OCV. Both were upbeat about the merger and pointed to several benefits already realized in the combination, including an immediate cost savings of $100 million (USD) and the opportunity, for the first time, to serve every major region around the world. In the stand was a new Robson Brook-16 composite canoe, built by Mega Sports Vertriebs GmbH (Regen, Germany), using OC’s TWINTEX, a commingled E-glass/polypropylene technical fabric that can provide glass content in the finished part of up to 80 percent (see photo, left). Use of the fabric enabled the boatbuilder to replace rotomolding with vacuum bag molding and resulted a canoe weight about the same as an ABS sandwich construction, but 30 percent lighter than canoes molded of polyethylene. OC also showcased the use of Cem-Fil alkali-resistant rovings in prefabricated concrete made by Rieder Smart Elements GmbH (Mühlenweg, Austria). Panels made without rovings measured 100 mm/3.9 inches thick, but the thickness of roving-reinforced panels was reduced to 10 mm/0.39 inch, without loss of mechanical performance.

Parabeam BV (Helmond, The Netherlands) reported that its Parabeam 3D Glass Fabric, historically used in transportation applications, double-wall tanks and marine products, is now also being used as a core in some wind turbine and helicopter rotor blades. Woven from 100 percent E-glass yarn, the fabric consists of two deck layers that are bonded together by vertical piles. The latter are woven into the deck layers, thus forming an integral sandwich structure. When the fabric is saturated with a thermoset resin, the resin travels upward and outward through the fiber plies to impregnate the fibers and expand the fabric to a preset height.

International technology transfer center Pôle de Plasturgie de l’Est (Saint Avold, France) released its Composites RTM Process 2 software package, developed to enable simplified solutions to design and engineering problems confronted in resin transfer molding (RTM) and light RTM. The software assists the user in the design and mechanical presizing of both the part and its mold. It enables the user simulation of the mold filling process to determine the best arrangement of injection ports and optimum mold geometry as well as to calculate mold fill time, mold pressure and other process parameters, including production costs.

Polynova Composites (Milford, Mass.) featured its new flow media for vacuum-assisted resin transfer molding (VARTM) surface infusion. The medium’s high-tenacity polyester, polygonal intertwined warp knit enhances resin flow across the surface of the part, under the mold, and reportedly eliminates the need for a peel ply.

Polystrand (Montrose, Colo., 5439) announced the development of a lightweight reinforcement tape for applications requiring higher strength to weight. The continuous 12.5-inch/317.5-mm wide tape reportedly features 70 percent glass fiber by weight in a thermoplastic matrix. Made by the company’s proprietary process, which impregnates continuous fiber with a polypropylene resin, the tape weighs only about 8 oz/yd, a 15 percent reduction in weight compared to a standard tape. The company also said it has signed a European distribution agreement with glass fiber producer AGY (Aiken, S.C., 40), which covers Polystrand’s trademarked line of ThermoBallistic products.

First-time JEC exhibitor Promak Srl (Collecorvino, Italy) exhibited its 2-D and 3-D numerically controlled cutting machines. On display was the F3A Easytop 2-D machining center with vacuum top. The company offers 3-, 4- and 5-axis machines with working surfaces of up to 12,000 mm2 (18.6 in2) and can handle composite materials, plastics and other lightweight metals.

RocTool (Le Bourget du Lac, France) announced on March 21 that it has successfully realized a private placement with qualified investors and an increase of capital of about $4.9 million (USD) to help it launch new technologies, continue investment in research and development and install pilot facilities in Europe, the U.S. and Japan. The company also announced that it was listed on Libre Euronext Paris on March 26, 2008.

TechnoBell Ltd. (Harrow, U.K.) showcased its expertise as a supplier of equipment for fiberglass pipe production; corrosion-resistant piping and tanks for chemical production; and project design for actual plants and facilities for producing phthalic anhydride, maleic anhydride and plasticizers. It also produces custom polyester resins.

A cocktail reception heralded the introduction of new glass fiber manufacturer 3B (Battice, Belgium, 7589). The company is the result of the merger of two former Owens Corning Composite Solutions LLC (770) manufacturing sites, one in Battice and the other in Birkeland (Norway), which were divested by Owens Corning at the request of antitrust regulators during its recent acquisition of Saint-Gobain’s Reinforcements and Composite Fabrics businesses, now grouped under the company’s OCV Reinforcements brand. 3B will continue to produce trademarked Advantex and HiPer-tex glass products under license to OCV, says the company.

Victrex (W. Conshohocken, Pa.) is branching out with carbon fiber in two new injection-moldable material grades, VICTREX PEEK 90HMF20 and VICTREX PEEK 90HMF40, which contain 20 percent and 40 percent carbon fiber filler, respectively. The two materials are said to provide good fatigue, strength, modulus and toughness properties, with low creep and minimal coefficient of thermal expansion. Maximum operating temperature for the materials is 340°C/644°F. Potential applications include bearing shells or seal rings in transport and industrial applications where high mechanical static or dynamic loads are applied at elevated temperatures.