CW Blog

On April 15 the world watched as the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris burned. The staff of CW were texting and emailing each other as the tragedy unfolded — the team had just visited the cathedral a month ago while in Paris for JEC World 2019. Like the rest of the world, we took a few minutes of the day to swap our Notre-Dame stories and photos with coworkers;  we kept checking in to see if the fire had been extinguished yet — to see how bad the damage was. Having just visited the cathedral made the thought of the damage such amazing architecture and art all too vivid. 

And also like the rest of the world, our thoughts quickly turned to the rebuild of the cathedral. Nearly $1 billion has reportedly been raised for restoration efforts already and the donations show no sign of slowing down. However as the funding grows, so does the debate over what a rebuild should look like. What kind of materials and technology will be used? Will the design replicate the original spire or offer some sort of evolution? And shouldn’t composites, with their ability to offer low-weight strength and stiffness as well as fire resistance, play a role?

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Recently CW attended the 35th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colo., U.S. The event was an exciting look at what appears to be the very near future of space exploration. There was an undercurrent of urgency as high-profile speakers including Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein emphasized the importance of the U.S. working to maintain dominance in space in terms of both exploration and defense. Speakers emphasized the need to increase collaboration with commercial entities and foreign partners. 

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA, Washington, D.C., U.S.) administrator Jim Bridenstine offered the agency’s response to an address by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence at a meeting of the National Space Council on March 26, which called for a return to the Moon by U.S. astronauts by the year 2024. Bridenstine explained how the agency plans to achieve such a monumental goal in the accelerated timeline by moving up programs that were already in development: 

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EconCore (Leuven, Belgium), at JEC World 2019 showcased its ThermHex honeycomb process technology with high-performance thermoplastics (HPT). The next generation honeycomb materials are well suited for applications requiring lightweight solutions but still have demanding performance requirements, such as high heat resistance in structural automotive and fire-smoke-toxicity (FST) in aerospace and public transport. Additional benefits of the material are said to include improved cost-efficiency, lightweighting and additional functionalization, such as acoustic absorption.

EconCore says it is breaking new ground with high-performance core materials and techniques for the commercial production of such materials. By combining high-performance honeycomb cores (polycarbonates, PPS, PEI, PA, etc.) with fiber reinforced, thermoplastic composite skins EconCore reportedly provides thermoplastic solutions for sandwich panels and parts.

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Arcitell (Sugarcreek, Ohio, U.S.), a manufacturer of residential siding products, revealed its innovative alternative to traditional building claddings at the recent 2019 edition of the International Builders Show (IBS) in Las Vegas, Nev., U.S., held Feb. 19-21. Qorad, a lightweight fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) panel that authentically replicates traditional brick, stone or wood siding, is designed to simplify the building process and, given its panelized format, provide an answer to the construction industry’s ongoing labor concerns. Qora will be available in the southeastern U.S. and Texas.

“Qora was born from the belief that Arcitell could produce a cladding product without trade-offs — and our persistence to not stop until that material existed. By creating this joint effort between Canton, Ohio-based Belcap Inc., a member of the Belden family of holdings, and Dublin, Ireland-based Acell Industries, we plan to do just that,” says Jeff Adams, president and CEO.

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SABIC (Sittard, Netherlands) at JEC World 2019 offered a virtual reality-based peek at its new Digital Composites Manufacturing line — a solution for automated, large scale laminate production of thermoplastic composite parts that the company developed in partnership with Airborne (The Hague, Netherlands) and powered by Siemens (Munich, Germany) and Kuka (Augsburg, Germany) technologies.

The display, which was called “Innovations of Scale,” offered a look at aspects of the manufacturing line which is designed for large-scale manufacturing of custom-made, thermoplastic composite laminates. The line uses digital technologies including robotics to enable customization of flat laminates while reducing cycle times and cost. The system is reportedly capable of producing four laminates every 60 seconds — 1.5 million parts per year. 

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