Post-show review of the 2004 U.S. SAMPE Symposium

Largest-ever Symposium serves up a large helping of news and new technologies from advanced composites suppliers.
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The Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering (SAMPE) marked its 60th year of service at its 49th SAMPE Symposium & Exhibition (May 16-20, Long Beach Convention Center, Long Beach, Calif. U.S.A.). Its 60th Anniversary celebration commenced on the afternoon of May 30, with plenty to eat and music in the 1940s "big band" style. SAMPE's Japan chapter, active in the entire Pacific Rim region, performed a Kagami-Wari ceremony that included the breaking of two large casks of sake. SAMPE Europe completed the ceremony by opening a cache of French champagne bottles and distributing the drinks to the participants. With sake and champagne enough for all, the celebration -- planned to last about an hour -- went on well past the close of the exhibit day.

In honor of the anniversary, the composites industry response significantly exceeded that in previous years. General co-chairs, John Green and Steve Rodgers, of the sponsoring Los Angeles SAMPE chapter, reported a record 355 technical papers were given, a 50 percent increase over the previous high. According to the organizing committee, package regis-trations (papers plus exhibits) purchased for this year's event were 20 to 25 percent greater than in 2003, with increased floor traffic, reversing the downward trend during recent economic doldrums.

More than 20 exhibitors made free use of SAMPE's Training/Demonstration Technology area, a new feature this year, to make presentations, demonstrate new products and processes and conduct training classes. SAMPE reports that exhibitors have asked that the area be expanded next year.

Symposium attendance also was strong. More than 350 people attended Michael Fortson's Keynote Address and the SAMPE Luncheon, which featured NASA's Dr. Harley Thronson. More than 100 attended the "M&P Technology: SAMPE's Technical Committee Reports on Current Technology and Market Trends" panel. Co-moderators Tia Benson Tolle, SAMPE's senior VP, and technical director Dr. Scott Beckwith reportedly had to close out the session after almost three hours of unabated and enthusiastic interaction between the audience and panelists.

On the show floor, there was a strong showing of new technologies, from which the HPC staff selected the following for review.

Abaris Training Resources Inc. (Reno, Nev., U.S.A.) highlighted its latest week-long course offering, which covers the resin infusion process, including infusion principles and techniques, flow principles and design, tools and equipment and workshops on preform fabrication and placement, tool preparation, vacuum bagging, problem-solving and more.

A.B. Carter Inc. (Gastonia, N.C., U.S.A.) displayed its enhanced air splicing capabilities. The technology can splice carbon, glass and aramid yarns and tows for filament winding, pultrusion and weaving operations.

Alcan Baltek Corp. (Northvale, N.J., U.S.A.) exhibited its new AIRSAN panel, which covers the company's AIREX R82 polyetherimide (PEI) foam with glass/PEI skins and PEI film adhesive. The result is a fully thermoformable panel that requires no post-finishing. The new panel meets commercial aircraft specifications for fire, smoke and toxicity.

Alpha STAR Corp. (Long Beach, Calif., U.S.A.) announced the release of GENOA 3.2, the latest version of its virtual testing tool for composite, ceramic and metal structures. GENOA closely simulates actual service conditions to predict when, where and why failure may occur during a component's service life (see "Inside Engineering" in this issue, p. 32.

American Autoclave Co. (Sumner, Wash., U.S.A.) talked up the company's new contract with General Dynamics to provide a 3m by 15.2m (10-ft by 50-ft) autoclave to the latter's facility in Rancho Bernardo, Calif., U.S.A.

American GFM (Chesapeake, Va., U.S.A.) discussed its Total Integrated Solution, a systems approach to composite part inspection and repair. Developed under the Advanced Fighter Aircraft Initiative and the Aging Aircraft Repair Initiative, it combines the company's own cutting and routing technologies with metrology, laser placement and other technologies in a single package.

Albany International Techniweave Inc. (Rochester, N.H., U.S.A.) issued Techniviewer, a new version of its in-house Techniweaver software. The latter inputs functional requirements of a customer's application, designs the material properties and generates a preform design, then translates it into instructions for Albany's electronically controlled weaving equipment. The new version can generate cross-sections of the design, which can be sent electronically to its customers, enabling customers to derive their own material properties.

On pace to deliver 36 units this year, autoclave manufacturer ASC Process Systems Inc. revealed that it will more than quadruple its manufacturing space when the company moves this September from Chatsworth to Sylmar, Calif., U.S.A. into a new 3,809m²/41,000 ft² facility, where 3,344m²/36,000 ft² will be devoted to manufacturing.

Assembly Guidance Systems (Chelmsford, Mass., U.S.A.) demonstrated its laser placement system's new Vari-View capability, which integrates and synchronizes laser placement and fiber placement machines and compensates for mandrel rotation without having to be realigned.

Aerostructure tooling manufacturer ATS-Kleizen (Helmond, The Netherlands) announced its first U.S. military contract: A $3.8 million (USD) deal with Lockheed Martin to make the tooling that will be used to mold the control surfaces and leading edges on the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).

BH Thermal (Columbus, Ohio, U.S.A.) exhibited its new BriskHeat ACR-II hot bonder, which offers an upgraded 26-mm/10.4-inch touch screen display and a USB port for communicating directly with PCs and importing/exporting cure cycle programs and cure data. Available with this hot bonder is a built-in electric pump that eliminates the need for an outside air source or second power supply.

Bryte Technologies/Ten Cate Advanced Composites (Morgan Hill, Calif., U.S.A.) displayed anti-ballistic materials produced by its new Armor Division. The division combines the composite/ceramic armor technologies of France-based sister division ARES Protection with its own advanced production processes. Products include CeraFlex ceramic/composite hard armor, CETEX spall liners and custom composite and ceramic/composite armor solutions.

C.A. Litzler Co. (Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.A.) reported that its patented carbon-fiber oxidation oven and sealing system has been ordered for use in China. The company also introduced the Com-Preg light glass prepreg treater, designed to produce small quantities of narrow-web material for light production and laboratory applications.

Cass Polymers (Oklahoma City, Okla., U.S.A.), announced two new low-density, flame-retardant, two-part epoxy syntactics from Adtech: PBDE-free Core Fill 2018, for fastener potting and core splicing of honeycomb, and non-brominated Edge Seal 2017, used to edge-seal honeycomb. New from the Tool Chemical Composites (TCC) line: TCC SprayShape 2055 polymer, which reportedly can be sprayed up (using special dispensing equipment jointly developed by TCC and Magnus Venus) on a vertical surface up to 12.7-mm/0.5-inch thick in a single application without porosity, producing a seamless near-net surface that is easily machined and finished.

Chemlease (Howell, Mich., U.S.A.) promoted its RTM Release System, a multi-component, multi-pull mold release technology for resin transfer molding (RTM). System components include IM02 internal release agent for the resin; solvent-based, cotton cloth-applied Mold Cleaner; hand-wiped MPP 117 mold prep/primer to seal porous and/or repaired mold surfaces; and light-duty 15 Sealer to prepare the surface for a topcoat of either 70-90 or 41-90 high-slip release agent, for Class A finishes or non-cosmetic parts, respectively.

Componeering Inc. (Helsinki, Finland) launched its efforts to establish a distribution/support network in North America for its ESAComp composite analysis and design software, which integrates with other programs, such as ABAQUS, ANSYS, I-DEAS and MSC Nastran/Patran.

Coastal Enterprises (Orange, Calif., U.S.A.) introduced PBHT-40 high-temperature precision tooling board, for prototype machining, carbon/epoxy prepreg layup tooling, vacuum form tooling, tool proofing, mandrels, patternmaking and master modeling. Available in large sheets, in densities from 64 kg/m³ to 640 kg/m³ (4 lb/ft³ to 40 lb/ft³) and thicknesses up to 20 inches, the board can be machined to small radii and compound contours and performs at continuous temperatures as high as 149°C/300°F for up to 24 hours.

The new DCM 2-inch Trim/Cut-off Saw from DCM Clean-Air Products (Fort Worth, Texas, U.S.A.) is designed to make trim cuts on glass- and carbon-fiber-reinforced composites. The cutting system accommodates DCM's dust collection vacuum, which captures dust and particulate generated during cuts.

On display at the DelStar Technologies (Austin, Texas, U.S.A.) booth was Naltex resin distribution media, featuring 0.559-mm to 0.381-mm (0.022-inch to 0.015-inch) thick nylon netting. Approved by Boeing and Lockheed for use as bleeder, breather or resin-distribution media, the product can be autoclave processed at temperatures as high as 260°C/500°F.

DIAB (DeSoto, Texas, U.S.A.) showcased Renicell E high-density, high-static-strength polycarbamate foam, a modified polyurethane (polyester/polyether blend) made for core and other applications (including tooling) that demand high compressive properties. Made via a continuous pour process, to minimize variation, and supplied in 1.2m by 2.4m (4-ft by 8-ft) sheets in a variety of thicknesses or kitted for specific applications, the foam is compatible with polyester, vinyl ester, epoxy and polyurethane resins. Special finishing can include grooving and/or perforation, to facilitate resin flow.

Making its first appearance at the SAMPE U.S. Show, chemicals specialist Gelest Inc. (Morrisville, Pa., U.S.A.) outlined its capabilities as a custom manufacturer of metal organics, silanes and silicones for research and develop-ment activities and/or commercial-scale applications, including adhesives, coating, surface modifications and resin modification.

General Magnaplate Corp. (Linden, N.J., U.S.A.) highlighted its Custom Moldmaking Process Technology (CMPT), a dense, multi-directional metal weaving process that can be used instead of machined toolfaces from heavy metal ingots or castings. CMPT reduces metal toolmaking time from the conventional 6 to 12 months to as little as 6 weeks, cuts tooling costs by a third, and reduces tool weight, according to the company. CMPT tools can be made from any alloy and can withstand cure cycles at temperatures as high as 399°C/750°F at pressures up to 103.4 bar/1,500 psi.

Gerber Technology (Tolland, Conn., U.S.A.) displayed its GTxL cutter, designed to cut reinforcement plies for small-lot orders. The system features a tangential drag-knife that cuts a single layer of glass or carbon fiber fabric cleanly, using long-life blades. For multiple layers, however, the user can switch to a conventional reciprocating lathe, which includes an automated knife-sharpening system and variable knife reciprocation speed control. Gerber's Bristle Square cutting surface allows the knife to penetrate the plane of the cutting table's surface without damaging it and helps concentrate the integrated hold-down vacuum at the cutting location.

Hawkeye International (Los Angeles, Calif., U.S.A.) premiered HK 2660 low-temperature (122°C/250°F) bagging film, available in 0.051-mm, 0.076-mm or 0.127-mm (0.002-inch, 0.003-inch and 0.005-inch) thickness. Also new: A2760 release film (0.0254 mm or 0.0508 mm/0.001-inch or 0.002-inch thick) is designed for continuous cure of contoured parts at temperatures as high as 122°C/250°F. A2760 is available clear or colored orange, the latter to provide for easy identification and removal from parts. Both films are capable of high elongation (about 750 percent).

The RenShape Solutions Tooling Group of Huntsman Advanced Materials (formerly Vantico A&T US Inc., Los Angeles, Calif., U.S.A.) introduced intermediate-temperature RenShape 5008 tooling board, which may be used for master model construction and features density of 0.67 g/cm³ (42 lb/ft³) and Shore D hardness of 68. The product has a lower coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) than RenShape 5005 intermediate-temperature board and significantly outperforms the latter, according to ASTM test results.

Integrated Technologies (INTEC, Bothell, Wash., U.S.A.) introduced its custom-designed "Quick Grips," designed to save time in large-specimen testing. The grips offer tension and compression up to 500,000 kips and static testing up to 250,000 kips, and can evaluate fatigue on specimens up to 81 cm/32 inches wide and 7.6 cm/3 inches thick.

Laser Projection Technologies (LPT, Londonderry, N.H., U.S.A.) exhibited its sealed projector systems, which allow laser placement to move out of the clean room and into shop-floor environments. The company also offers a small, lightweight projector for use in confined spaces; and it has developed software to interface with a variety of CAD programs through its partnership with Magestic Systems (Old Tappan, N.J., U.S.A.).

For highly viscous and abrasive materials Liquid Control Corp. (LCC, North Canton, Ohio, U.S.A.) offered its new PosiFlow family of programmable, positive-displacement, continuous-flow metering pumps. Resistant to abrasive fillers, the new pumps use rotary metering to deliver high flow rates at low pressure and low shear. The company's Decker division introduced DLPC, a two-component, programmable meter/mix/dispense machine for filled and unfilled materials.

Among the new items from Loctite Aerospace (Bay Point, Calif., U.S.A.): Pre-impregnated Hysol EA 9895 Peel Ply, the result of research into aspects of the peel ply process that affect reliability of bonding surfaces, reportedly optimizes key variables to enhance bonding quality. The Epsilon RTM resin -- an alternative to epoxy systems currently used in resin transfer molding (RTM) of aerospace structures, which reportedly performs at higher temperatures -- exhibits near-zero cure shrinkage and features a viscosity profile that can be adjusted to suit RTM, vacuum-assisted RTM (VARTM) and resin film infusion (RFI) processes.

Model, tool and pattern house Lucas Industries (Springfield, Vt., U.S.A.) reported that its engineers had designed and built a steel break-away mold for composite structures fabricated by EDO Corp. (Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.A.) for the U.S. Army's Comanche helicopter. The company also made the mold for EDO's composite Integrated Retractable Aircraft Munitions Dispensing System, used to facilitate carriage and launch of ordnance from internal weapons bays.

MTS Systems Corp. (Eden Prairie, Minn., U.S.A.) exhibited its new FlexTest SE Digital Servo test controller. The FlexTest line now provides one to eight channels and one to four stations for performing material testing. Procedures include tensile, fatigue and durability testing. Also available was the new Qtest QT 100 system, a new 100 kN (22,500 lb/ft) universal test frame.

NanoSperse LLC (Akron, Ohio, U.S.A.) touted its advanced nanocomposites technology, as the exclusive licensee of a proprietary platform technology developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and the University of Dayton Research Institute. The company reportedly can provide custom nanocomposites and nanocomposite concentrates, which can be added to composites by prepreggers, formulators and processors.

Nida-Core Corp. (Port St. Lucie, Fla., U.S.A.) now offers honeycomb core in densities as low as 16 kg/m³ (1 lb/ft³). The company highlighted its H11PP polypropylene copolymer honeycomb, which uses 11-mm/0.43-inch cell size and 10-mm/0.40-inch wall thickness to achieve 48 kg/m³ (3 lb/ft³) density. H11P is designed primarily for non-load-bearing structures.

Plascore Inc.'s (Zeeland, Mich., U.S.A.) new PK2 aramid honeycomb core, made from DuPont's Kevlar N636 aramid paper or equivalent and impregnated with phenolic resin, is as much as 40 percent lighter than comparable Nomex honeycomb. According to the company, it features excellent thermal and moisture capabilities, improved shear strength and modulus and complies with flammability, smoke and toxicity (FST) standards.

Schmelzer Industries (Somerset, Ohio, U.S.A.) announced plans to expand its pultrusion veil capacity up to 305 g/m² (1 oz/ft²) mats. The company also will add C-glass veils for applications in the corrosion market.

SIA Adhesives Inc. (Akron, Ohio, U.S.A.) featured two new core fill materials, each comprised of one-part, low-density, modified epoxy syntactic paste. PLASTILOCK CPR 101, a flame-retardant material, cures at 135°C/275°F; and PLASTILOCK CP 102 is a dual-cure product, 121°/180°C (250°/350°F). Both are designed for core potting and edge filling of honeycomb panels.

Taricco Corp. (Long Beach, Calif., U.S.A.) introduced a (pat. pend.) leak-detection device that replaces standard gauge-type vacuum testing during vacuum processing. The pre-calibrated device can be user-set to the minimum acceptable level of vacuum, and triggers visible/audible alarms if pressure falls below that level.

Touchstone Research Laboratory Ltd. (Triadelphia, W. Va., U.S.A.) featured its CFOAM carbon foam structural material, which the company has expanded to new densities. The product line ranges from 34.1 kg/m² to 317.2 kg/m² (7 lb/ft² to 65 lb/ft²).

Toray Carbon Fibers America Inc. (Trophy Club, Texas, U.S.A.) touted new carbon fiber production capacity, with a third SOFICAR fiber line scheduled to open in France in October this year, to produce about 1,800 metric tonnes/3.97 million lb annually. Expected in early 2006: A new line in Decatur, Ala., U.S.A., that will annually generate an additional 1,800 metric tonnes/3.97 million lb of carbon fiber and 3,600 tonnes/7.93 million lb of precursor.

First-time exhibitor UBE America Inc. (New York, N.Y., U.S.A.) announced the commercial availability of PETI-330, a polyimide resin for high-temperature applications that can be resin transfer molded. The company provided a key monomer to NASA researchers, who developed PETI-330 and licensed the new resin to UBE America. Reportedly, test quantities (100-kg/220.5-lb batches) are already undergoing qualification at major aerospace concerns. Beta testing and prototyping is expected in the next 18 to 24 months. Anticipated applications include rocket engine parts and missile skins.

Unitech LLC (Wake Forest, N.C., U.S.A.) touted its RP46 high-temperature polyimide resin system, created by NASA and developed specifically for composites in the space industry. The resin reportedly resists moisture-induced damage and microcracking and retains its mechanical strength and structural durability in operating temperatures from -101°C to 357°C /-150°F to 675°F, withstanding spikes as high as 815.5°C/1500°F for short periods.

Vanguard Composites (San Diego, Calif., U.S.A.) displayed its HyPerSHIELD ballistic technology. The low-density material integrates ballistic protection into its structure, using Spectra and aramid fibers as well as a ceramic structure when required. HyPerSHIELD can be tailored to suppress National Institute of Justice Class IIIA (handgun), Class III (rifle, ball round) or Class IV (armor piercing bullets) threats, with or without backside spalling of the material.

VISTAGY Inc. (Waltham, Mass., U.S.A.) announced a $1.95 million (USD) purchase of its FiberSIM software by Northrop Grumman Corp.'s Integrated Systems for use by more than 100 members of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Center Fuselage Integrated Product Team. VISTAGY also promoted recently released FiberSIM 4.2, which features a new toolbar and enhanced table view editing.

WebCore Technologies Inc. (Dayton, Ohio, U.S.A.) premiered its newest commercial version of TYCOR core product, suitable for closed molding processes. New, high-speed fiber placement equipment cost-competitively produces this addition to the product line. It offers exceptional strength, stiffness and impact resistance, the company reports.

Wolff Industries (Spartanburg, S.C., U.S.A.) introduced new high-carbon stainless steel scissors for tailoring hard-to-cut materials, including carbon-, glass- and aramid-fiber fabrics and mats. Scissor blade edges can be customized for the specific material.

YLA Advanced Composite Materials (Benicia, Calif., U.S.A.) exhibited its new, full range of composite materials designed for high service temperatures and qualified for aerospace applications. Material databases for the products support service temperatures from 230°C to 540°C (450°F to 1000°F), using polyimide, bismaleimide and cyanate ester resins. Prepreg products are made using a novel manufacturing process, and are complemented by a full line of adhesives, RTM/VARTM resins and tackifiers, syntactics and molding compounds.

While that's not all there was to see in Long Beach, it's all we had room for. Watch our "New Products & Literature" department in future issues for more news of what was new at the SAMPE U.S. Show.