CW Blog

In 1992, Hurricane Andrew wreaked widespread havoc across South Florida, with 175-mph winds leveling neighborhoods, stripping roofs and causing more than $25 billion in damage. The severity of this Category 5 hurricane led Florida to develop the most wind-resistant building codes in the U.S. and was fully implemented for new and renewal construction within 10 years. Less than two years ago, Hurricane Irma swept through Florida, causing severe damage in the Florida Keys, yet causing relatively minor wind-related damage to newer roofs, windows and structures elsewhere in the state. Irma did, however, highlight another major effect of hurricanes: Tidal flooding caused by storm surges, augmented by significant rainfall. This flooding has become another issue to address for infrastructure developers, especially with continuing forecasts of rising ocean levels and more frequent severe weather events. Is it possible Hurricane Irma will lead to new codes aimed at these factors?

“South Florida has always lived with issues of water,” noted Julie Dick, a Miami-based attorney and advocate for South Florida’s water supply. Her remarks were part of a dialogue between government officials, private developers and the composites community, held in late April in Miami’s redeveloped Wynwood neighborhood. The event, titled “Composites Innovation for Resilient and Sustainable Infrastructure,” was organized jointly by IACMI and Mont Vista Capital, a Miami investment firm.

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My wife is a high school history teacher (U.S. history) who is highly engaged with her students. One of the things she likes to do is organize out-of-school trips to explore local and regional history, and it’s not unusual for me to tag along and provide chaperone and general spousal support services, particularly if the group of students is large.

Whenever possible, I like to talk to these students about their interests, likes, dislikes, extracurricular activities, etc. As you can imagine, and as you probably know, the younger the student is, the less concrete and formed the answers to these questions are. By the time these students hit senior year, however, thoughts about life beyond high school become much more real and urgent. Campuses are visited, colleges are applied to, scholarships are pursued. All of this activity comes to a head in late April/early May as students make their final decisions about where they will go. It’s a tense time, with many students balancing the prospect of attending their “dream” school against the reality of the cost of that dream.

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By: Michael Guckes 5/20/2019

Index rises on surging new orders activity

The Composites Index moved higher in April to a reading of 54.4, up from 52.6 in March 2019, thanks to strong acceleration in new orders activity. The latest Index reading is 12.1 percent lower compared to the same month one year ago, indicating slowing growth within the industry over the past year. Index readings above 50 indicate expanding business activity, while a value of 50 indicates no change and a reading below 50 indicates contracting business activity. Gardner Intelligence’s review of the underlying data indicates that the Index was propelled by new orders, production, supplier deliveries and employment. The Index — calculated as an average — was pulled lower by backlogs and exports; however, only exports contracted during the month.

April marked the highest reading for new orders activity in a year, while simultaneously, exports posted its lowest reading since mid-2016. The combination of total new orders expansion and contracting exports implies that domestic demand for fabricated goods more than offset shrinking global demand, according to the survey data. The surge in new orders during April is assumed to have aided backlogs that expanded in April after posting a sharp contraction in the prior month.

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Swiss engineering company Scheurer Swiss GmbH (Volketswil, Switzerland) recently combined 3D printing and years of experience using carbon fiber-reinforced composites for motorsports to develop lighter, stronger bearing cages for the Moonwave catamaran.

The Moonwave is a privately-owned, luxury sailing yacht refitted from a carbon fiber composite Gunboat 60 catamaran built by Gunboat (La Grande Motte, France; owned by Grand Large Yachting Inc.). The boat has been upgraded with high-tech gadgets like a custom hybrid propulsion system, and is outfitted with a carbon fiber hull, spars, steering wheel, propeller, and retractable rudders and dagger boards, as well as aramid fiber shrouds with carbon fiber chain plates.

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Both the aerospace and automotive industries are interested in applications using thermoplastic prepreg tapes. As might be expected, the quality of the finished parts is significantly affected by the quality of the raw material for the laminate. Though thermoplastic prepreg tapes have been used for decades, the push for quality has intensified as many seek to consolidate in-situ, without further application of pressure or heat. The French engineering and advanced manufacturing R&T organization Cetim (Nantes, France) has developed a system for quality assurance of these materials, which in turn, increases quality control for finished parts.

Cetim has developed several technologies for producing thermoplastic composite parts. One comprises a laser filament winding machine for thermoplastic prepreg tapes. The goal for the machine is to manufacture tank and tube applications that, until now, were limited to metallic and thermoset composite materials.

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