Composites UK Innovation Awards 2012 fetes Great Britain's best

Gurit Automotive, Bac2 Ltd. and Tilsatec earn top honors at the awards dinner held in Birmingham, U.K., coinciding with the Composite Engineering Show.

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Gurit Automotive, Bac2 Ltd. and Tilsatec earned top honors at the Composites UK Innovation Awards Dinner held in Birmingham, U.K., coinciding with the Composite Engineering Show. The black-tie evening event took place on Nov. 7 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on the National Exhibiton Centre (NEC) complex in Birmingham, West Midlands, U.K.

Intended to celebrate innovations in composite materials, design and manufacturing, the competition and awards dinner confer honors on winners in three categories. The winners and runners up were invited to showcase their entries in the Composites UK Showcase area on the show floor at the neaarby Composites Engineering 2012 show.

Any U.K.-based company that works within the composites field was eligible to submit an entry to the Innovation Awards. The award categories and winners are:
 
Composite Materials:  Bac2 Ltd.
Design: Tilsatec Advanced Materials
Manufacture: Gurit Automotive Ltd.

Bac2 Ltd. (Southampton, U.K.) was recognized for its CSR family of latent acid catalysts. Development of catalysts was driven by the desire to make prepolymeric mixes easier to store, transport, handle and process during product manufacturing. Without a latent catalyst to control polymerization, the storage life of prepolymeric mixes may be anything from a few seconds to a few minutes. Although other catalysts that extend storage life are available, they typically require temperatures above 200°C/392°F for activation, something that is both energy-inefficient and impractical with many of the materials involved in manufacturing processes in which resins are cured.

Bac2’s innovation was to develop a family of latent acid catalysts that activate between 50°C and 150°C (122°F and 302°F), depending on the application and the speed of cure required, enabling them to be used with many materials and processes. Critically, the catalysts do not have a detrimental effect on mold-flow or other resin characteristics. In some applications, notably pultrusion, the catalyst has been shown, the company maintains, to improve resin flow characteristics, leading to faster processing speeds.

Using CSR catalysts, the storage life of prepolymeric mixes has been extended to more than three months, simplifying storage, transportation and materials handling. Process efficiency improvements of more than 100 percent reportedly have been demonstrated in pultrusion, coupled with a 30°C/86°F reduction in curing temperature. In sheet molding compound (SMC) and bulk molding compound (BMC) processes, room-temperature storage life is extended to several months. CSR catalysts also enable the manufacture of inherently flame-retardant moldings by facilitating the production of stable phenolic and furan-based pre-polymeric mixes.

For more information about Bac2 Ltd., contact Mike Stannard, Tel: +44 (0) 23 8031 2784; E-mail:    mike.stannard@bac2.co.uk; Web site: www.bac2.co.uk.

Tilsatec Advanced Materials, UK (Wakefield, West Yorkshire, U.K.) was honored in part for its work on electrically conductive recycled carbon fiber-reinforced thermoplastic composites, as part of a team working on the multipartner UK project, Fibercycle.

The yarns and fabrics are blended carbon/PET, manufactured from virgin recovered carbon fiber that would otherwise have gone to landfill. These new materials have almost 100 percent of the stiffness of virgin materials, but they can be offered at a lower cost than similar products currently available on the market.

Tilsatec, a division of Sirdar Spinning Ltd. in West Yorkshire, is a leading supplier of heat- and cut-resistant materials for personal protection. Built on 125 years of experience in yarn and textile design, the company operates a vertically integrated supply chain to offer fully comprehensive service. In addition to the broad range of materials supplied for personal protection, advanced engineered materials are also manufactured for non-apparel industrial sectors, such as aerospace, transportation and construction.This includes the provision of a rapid design, manufacture from raw materials and delivery service of finished items direct to end users from their Wakefield based production and warehousing facilities. The company maintains an extensive 10,000 ft2 (930m2) warehousing and distribution facility on site at its manufacturing plant. In 2008 Tilsatec North America was established in Ontario, Canada, to service the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Asia. Visit the headquarters Web site: http://www.tilsatec.com. To visit the Tilsatec North America website go to www.tilsatec-rhino.com.

Fro more information, contact Simon Havis, technical product manager, Tel.: +44 (0)1924 231668; E-mail: info@tilsatec.com.

Gurit Automotive, a manufacturing subsidiary of composite materials supplier Gurit UK (Isle of Wight, U.K.) a leading manufacturer of carbon composite Class A body panels for the automotive industry. The molder ws presented with the "Manufacturing" award.

Martin Starkey, Gurit's automotive managing director, commented, "This award recognizes the hard work and dedication of the Gurit Automotive team, from the development of innovative composite materials to the advanced manufacturing process we use today to manufacture our Class A composites body panels."

Gurit Automotive is one of the companies of Gurit Holding AG (Wattwil, Switzerland). All specialize in the development and manufacture of advanced composite materials and related technologies, featuring bespoke physical and chemical characteristics. The comprehensive product range comprises fiber-reinforced prepregs, structural core products (manmade materials and balsa wood), gel coats, adhesives, resins and consumables as well as certain finished parts. Gurit supplies growth markets in wind energy, tooling, transportation, marine, and engineered structures. The international Group has production sites and offices in Switzerland, Germany, the U.K., Canada, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, the U.S., Ecuador, Brazil, India and China.

For further information on Gurit, contact Katie Homes, marketing communications manager, Tel.: +44 (0) 1983 828 320; E-mail: katie.homes@gurit.com.