SAMPE ’08 technology showcase

Billed as the world’s largest advanced materials trade event, SAMPE’s 2008 Symposium and Exhibition returned to Long Beach.
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The Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering’s (West Covina, Calif.) SAMPE Symposium, the world’s largest conference and exhibition for advanced materials, enjoyed a successful return to the West Coast, May 18-22, at the Long Beach Convention Center in Long Beach, Calif. SAMPE reports that the show attracted 80 new exhibitors since its last appearance in Long Beach in 2006 — 4,750 attendees from 49 U.S. states and 39 countries visited exhibits staged by 282 suppliers and other organizations that serve advanced materials markets. Sponsored by the SAMPE Utah and SAMPE Japan Chapters, the Symposium’s conference and tutorial programs featured a total of 270 presentations by the world’s experts.

At the show, SAMPE officials confirmed the Society’s intention to present the Symposium on the East Coast again next year. “Diversifying our location has advantages for all involved,” says SAMPE executive VP Bill Avery, an Associate Technical Fellow at Boeing Commercial Airplane Group (Seattle, Wash.). “It’s something that we will continue to do.”

The event will return next year to Baltimore, Md., at the Baltimore Convention Center. The conference will take place May 18-21, 2009, with the exhibition open May 19-21.

In the exhibition hall

HPC staffers were onsite in Long Beach, walking the aisles and canvassing exhibitors for what’s new. Here’s what they turned up:

AAR Composites (Wood Dale, Ill.) announced the opening of its new West Coast facility in the McClellan Business Park in Sacramento, Calif. Reportedly, the facility more than doubles the company’s size and quadruples its composite processing capacity. The 90,000-ft² (8,360m²) facility includes two cleanrooms, four autoclaves, four ovens, nondestructive inspection services, a 5-axis machining center and a flat-panel press.

Airtech International Inc. (Huntington Beach, Calif.) touted a key technology in its trademarked Toolmaster line of composite tooling materials: CEP High-Temperature tooling prepreg. Impregnated with cyanate-epoxy resin (rather than a bismaleimide), it is said to have a heat-deflection temperature of around 500°F/260°C. This makes its performance similar to bismaleimide but at less expense. The prepreg can be cured successfully at temperatures as low as 202°F/94°C, but it is stable in an autoclave up to 400°F/204°C.

Alcan Airex (Sins, Switzerland) exhibiting at the Alcan Baltek Corp. (Northvale, N.J.) booth, displayed recently released Airex PXc, a low-density (9 lb/ft³) fiber-reinforced structural urethane foam formulated to compete with conventional sandwich core materials. The foam is manufactured with an even distribution of continuous glass fibers, providing consistent compression and shear properties. The foam reportedly can be used in most molding processes, including hand or spray contact molding, VARTM, RTM and compression molding as well as prepreg applications. Applications include marine bulkheads, stringers, decks, railroad car interior panels and industrial tanks, covers and containers.

Arkema Inc. (Philadelphia, Pa.) showed its array of BlocBuilder functional additives for pultrusion and closed molding as well as its multiwall carbon nanotubes. Based on block copolymer technology, trademarked BlocBuilder RC-50 additive will unblock from a polyester resin when heated to high temperature, allowing the organic peroxide to initiate the cure reaction. Benefits include the ability to use faster initiator systems and, therefore, achieve faster line speeds, yet maintain more precise control over reactive resin systems, says the company.

Noting an urgent need to improve the design optimization process in the development of composite parts, Boeing Company, Aerospace Supplies (St. Louis, Mo.) launched a new initiative called Complete Enterprise Computer Aided Tools Integration. In a technical presentation entitled “Composite Optimization of the 787 Horizontal Stabilizer Main Bar,” Boeing structural analyst Joris Poort illustrated how the program is intended to help provide more robust solutions in the design of large models with multiple buckling constraints. “The optimization process needs to be able to handle more variables quickly,” said Poort.

Composite Polymer Design/Endurance Technologies Inc. (South St. Paul, Minn.), formerly known as Epoxical, showed its lines of epoxy resins for advanced composites applications. The company highlighted its CPD 4282A resin, a flame-retarding formulation that is bromine-free. It also offers a line of resins for resin infusion at room temperature, medium temperature and high temperature.

CompuDAS (Shelton, Wash.) was “curing” chocolate chip cookies in its booth with the help of the company’s Model SG6, a multichannel, programmable data acquisition and control system designed to monitor, document and control curing in ovens, autoclaves, presses and the resin transfer molding (RTM) process. The standard control system features 16 individual channels and is expandable, in groups of 16, to as many as 512 channels. Each channel can be configured to measure thermocouples, RTDs, voltages or currents. The system offers support for eight thermocouple types, features real-time graphing to the setup screen, and can generate Microsoft Excel-compatible CSV files and a printed copy of a logging session. A built-in 32 MB hard drive allows process monitoring to occur even when the operator PC is offline. The company also introduced the CPM 7000 process data recorder, also designed for ovens, autoclaves and presses. It records temperature, humidity and other variables, outputs data to Excel-compatible files, and is designed to replace the traditional strip chart recorder.

Cornerstone Research Group (CRG, Dayton, Ohio) showcased its innovative materials and technologies, including the micro air vehicle (MAV), an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) concept that HPC will highlight in its upcoming September issue. The company also touted its shape memory polymers, which were recently featured in NASA’s Tech Briefs publication (May 2008). CRG has designed a self-deploying truss structure that can be compacted for storage during spaceflight then unfolded in space without the need for articulated mechanisms or inflation.

CTS Composites Inc. (Mississauga, Ontario, Canada), formerly known as FormGlas CNC Div., showed its range of patterns and molds for composite manufacturing, made using medium-density fiberboard, seamless modeling paste, tooling boards, aluminum, prepreg, resin infusion and Low Cost Tooling Composites (LCTC). According to the company, LCTC provides the shortest turnaround for toolmaking. The method builds up modeling paste on a lightweight backing structure of aluminum honeycomb. The tooling paste can be machined to “exceptional tolerances” and is autoclavable up to 350°F/177°C. The company also drew attention to its reverse engineering services.

Davis Applied Technology College (DATC, Kaysville, Utah) announced that it has received a $2.27 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor under the Community-based Job Training Grants Initiative. The grant will cover the purchase of a new autoclave, filament winder, Gerber cutting table and a CNC router to upgrade DATC’s composites training facilities and will fund initiatives with partner institutions. Among its partners, says JoAnn Matern, director of programs, ATK Space Systems (Clearfield, Utah) has donated over $400,000 in materials to DATC, and Hexcel (Salt Lake City, Utah) is providing materials, equipment and advisory services. Some funds are earmarked for materials labs at high schools as well as development of a composites technology path in engineering programs at Weber State University and Southern Utah University.

Gateway Composites (Lake St. Louis, Mo.) did not exhibit but provided information to HPC about its new composite material buy/sell/trade Web site, www.surpluscomposites.com. The company says the new site functions as a classified ads service and allows composite firms to sell or obtain raw materials, equipment or finished goods.

General Dynamics - Armament and Technical Products (Arlington, Va.) reports developing a proprietary liner for the composite external fuel tanks installed on the F-14 jet fighter. The tanks are manufactured using a filament wound carbon fiber material and incorporate a sandwich structure. A filament-wound inner liner impregnated with resin provides fuel-permeation barrier properties that exceed previously used materials. The tanks are manufactured in 230-gal and 480-gal sizes at the company’s Lincoln, N.D. facility.

Harper International (Lancaster, N.Y.) showcased its custom designed and engineered thermal processing systems for producing carbon and graphite fibers, as well as other applications. It produces furnaces, kilns, silicon melt furnaces and other high-performance thermal solutions for materials. The company reports it has supplied carbon fiber processing furnaces for manufacturers on three continents.

Helman Engineering (Greenville, S.C.) didn’t have a booth at the show, but company representatives talked to HPC about their fiber tensioning equipment, which is available for the composites industry. Helman tensioners are bidirectional, servo-controlled systems with remote tension sensing, without idler arms, clutches or brakes, says the company.

Henkel Corp. Aerospace (Bay Point, Calif.) introduced Hysol PL 7000, an epoxy film adhesive particularly suited to bonding precured composite surfaces that have been stored in a humid environment. It features dual-temperature cure at 120°C or 180°C (250°F or 350°F) and has good tack but reportedly can be easily repositioned on itself or prepreg surfaces. The adhesive has an out time of 30 days at 30°C/90°F and 50 percent relative humidity. It’s qualified to Boeing’s BMS 5-154 specification and is used on the Boeing 787. Also new is Epsilon 99100, a benzoxazine RTM/VARTM resin system designed for aerospace use. Reported features include viscosity stability for predictable injection, low heat release during cure, fire retardance for air interior applications, high hot/wet property retention and UV and thermal resistance. The cure temperature is 180°C/250°F. The company also announced the second phase of a three-phase project at its Bay Point facility, featuring capital equipment upgrades that include additional filming equipment.

Huron Technologies (Leslie, Mich.) exhibited its Mold Release Coating 7575, which reportedly maintains exceptional details during compression molding of vinyl ester resins. It is designed for molding products that must withstand harsh environments.

Imperium Inc. (Silver Spring, Md.) displayed its AcoustoCam 1500, an ultrasound camera that the company says provides nondestructive testing (NDT) capabilities that include high-resolution images of the interior of composite panels and other composite structures. The device uses Imperium’s Digital Acoustic Video (DAV) technology, which provides real-time video images on an LCD viewing screen. To use the handgun-like camera, the user places ultrasound gel on the surface of the structure and then applies the AcoustoCam probe to the area of investigation. The user can switch between straight beam and angle beam for shear wave imaging. The field of view is 1 in²; results are displayed on a 2.5-inch LCD.

Lewcott Corp. (Millbury, Mass.) announced three new additions to the company’s line of low-temperature curing epoxy products. EP201 is a toughened epoxy that cures in five hours at 175°F/79°C, one hour at 200°F/93°C, or snap cures at 275°F/135°C. Applications include performance automotive and marine. Out time is four weeks at room temperature. EP202 is a fire-resistant toughened epoxy with the same cure profile. It has a Tg of 300°F/149°C without postcure. It’s designed for thermal-resistance and performance automotive applications. EP203 is a highly toughened epoxy that cures in 60 to 90 minutes at 200°F/93°C or 15 to 20 minutes at 275°F to 300°F (135°C to 149°C). Out time is six to eight weeks. Suitable applications include tubular structures, says the company.

M.C. Gill Corp. (El Monte, Calif.) announced that it has qualified Gillfab 4523, a bulk compartment floor panel for Airbus aircraft. The low-smoke sandwich panel features facesheets of modified phenolic resin reinforced with woven and unidirectional glass fibers and is cored with Nomex honeycomb. It exhibits a 71 percent increase in impact strength over its predecessor, Gillfab 4223, and it is designed for bulk cargo hold areas. In other news, the company says it has officially qualified as a supplier to the Airbus AIMS 11-01-001 Nomex honeycomb core specification. Similarly, it has completed qualification of three other Nomex core materials to Boeing’s BMS 8-124 specification.

Maverick Corp. (Blue Ash, Ohio, 5120) and its spinoff company, Renegade Materials Corp. (Springboro, Ohio), publicized the upcoming grand opening of its new composites manufacturing facility. Renegade will produce high-performance bismaleimide, cyanate ester and polyimide prepregs at the new $5 million (USD) production site, part of the Dayton, Ohio advanced materials cluster.

Paragon Aerospace & Technologies (Grand Rapids, Mich.), a first-time exhibitor at the show, spotlighted its toolmaking and machining capabilities. The company builds aluminum, steel and composite tooling for composites manufacturing and also offers 5-axis machining, consulting, engineering and design services. Its double-headed gantry-type machining center can handle a 12.5-ft by 52-ft (3.8m by 15.9m) work piece, says the company.

Pathfinder Australia Pty. Ltd.’s (Tullamarine, Victoria, Australia) K-Series industrial cutters are designed to cut woven and nonwoven fabrics, including Kevlar as well as prepregs and other materials with up to 140 mm/5.5 inch lay height. According to company cofounder John Hollo, the machines were designed to have improved reliability and lower maintenance than rival brands. A tangentially controlled drag knife reportedly maintains high precision when cutting prepregged carbon fiber. The drag knife can be quickly replaced with a reciprocating knife tool suitable for cutting multiple layers of chopped or woven glass fiber and similar materials. The machines are currently being used to produce components for a number of military aircraft, including the V22 Osprey and the Black Hawk helicopter.

PCM Molds and Patterns Inc. (Bellechasse, Quebec, Canada), also a first-time SAMPE exhibitor, offered its services as a patternmaker/toolmaker. The company’s capabilities reportedly include fabrication of master patterns and composite molds for opening molding, resin injection molding (RIM) and Lite RTM as well as machined aluminum and steel molds for closed molding processes.

Resodyn Acoustic Mixers Inc. (Butte, Mont.) introduced a new production-scale mixer at the show, the RAM 5, which uses the company’s trademarked ResonantAcoustic Mixing technology. It generates a low-frequency, high-intensity acoustic energy that is said to produce a consistent shear field throughout the mixing vessel to rapidly fluidize and disperse material. It mixes without impellers and can process as little as 1 lb/0.45 kg and as much as 80 lb/35 kg of material. It combine gases, liquids, solids, powders, viscous liquids and pastes and is capable of mixing more than 22 lb/10 kg of materials with a viscosity of more than 100 million cps.

SIGMATEX High Technology Fabrics Inc. (Benicia, Calif.), one of the world’s largest converters of carbon fiber, including pitch-based carbon, showed its extensive carbon reinforcement range, from woven fabrics, noncrimp fabrics up to 100 inches wide and unidirectionals in a variety of widths. The company announced the installation of a LIBA Max 5 universal multiaxial stitching machine and a Jacquard 3D weaving machine in its new U.K. facility and revealed that it has received an $11 million (USD) purchase order from Northrop Grumman for several grades of carbon fabric. The latter will be required this year for the first two shipsets of the DDG-1000 naval vessel.

Solid Concepts Inc. (Valencia, Calif.) showed a range of materials and equipment used to create rapid prototypes for part concept models, presentation models, form-and-fit models and other applications. The company provides stereolithography, selective laser sintering, casting, CNC machining and rapid tooling.

SPARTA Composite Products (San Diego, Calif.) had several of its customer’s applications at the booth, including add-on wing kits for a military customer’s small bombs. The fiberglass wings, which are cored with sheet molding compound, are produced in an automated resin transfer molding (RTM) process.

Steeger USA (Inman, S.C.) showcased its small, vertical braiding machines for making small-scale parts related to aerospace, medical, electronics, sport and other applications. Very fine denier fiber (0.002 to 0.005) can be braided with these precision machines, says the company.

Stiles Machinery (Grand Rapids, Mich.), in its first SAMPE outing, is the U.S. representative for Belotti SpA (Suisio, Italy) as well as Heian (Hamamatsu City, Japan) CNC routers. The company’s exhibit spotlighted a Belotti 5-axis waterjet cutting machine for composites and plastics. Belotti’s FLA Series for high-speed waterjet processing of larger parts and the MKN Series for smaller pieces both come fully equipped with CAD/CAM software.

Surfx Technologies LLC (Culver City, Calif.) showed its innovative technology for preparing a surface for bonding using atmospheric plasma tools. The plasma bombards the surface with atomic oxygen, with a small handheld tool at ambient pressure and room temperature, and within seconds the surface energy increases significantly for improved adhesion to especially hard-to-bond polymer matrices.

TechFiber’s (Tempe, Ariz.) blast containment wall covering is a 22 oz/yd cotton-covered Aramid fabric manufactured in a standard 66-inch/167.6- cm width. The fabric has a breaking strength (warp x weft) of 776 lbf x 743 lbf. The wall covering is designed to be mechanically fastened to the interior walls of buildings, containment structures or other commercial or industrial sites, and can be coated directly with commercially available paint. The company expects the product to meet growing demand for blast containment infrastructure, resulting, in part, from a new code requiring all federal buildings to have wrapped interior walls.

Touchstone Research Laboratory (Triadelphia, W. Va) emphasized its custom composite toolmaking services, using CFOAM, its carbon foam-based tooling block. Its high compressive strength and its low coefficient of thermal expansion makes it a better match for composites molding than Invar or steel. Tooling machined from CFOAM is surfaced with a carbon composite, such as Hexcel’s (Dublin, Calif.) HexTOOL, and is autoclave-cured. William Welychko, director, business development, says the company decided that the best way to promote its foam was to demonstrate its toolmaking effectiveness. The laboratory also recently installed a production-scale “microwave-assist” furnace capable of 1700°C/3092°F temperature in both oxidizing and inert atmospheres. It reportedly reduces cycle times by >300 percent and energy use by >50 percent compared to a gas oven.

Trelleborg Emerson & Cuming Inc. (Mansfield, Mass.) introduced a new line of epoxy syntactic boards for the CNC machining of models, tooling jigs and fixtures, and prepreg layup molds. The low-density boards integrate glass microspheres in custom-formulated, aerospace-grade epoxy matrices. As a result, the boards are said to exhibit a smooth surface finish, low coefficient of thermal expansion, good compression strength and good dimensional tolerance at temperatures up to 450°F/232°C.

Zyvax Inc. (Boca Raton, Fla.) introduced a new product called QuickSkin, a tool coating that can be applied to machinable tooling block of any density to produce a hard, impermeable surface suitable for part production. This quick-drying material can be applied with a brush or roller, The company says 2 to 10 parts can be produced from a tool that is coated with QuickSkin.