High Performance Fibers highlights fiber technologies

The High Performance Fibers 2008 conference, Oct. 28-29 in Charleston, S.C., featured experts and information covering a variety of high-performance fiber types.

Composites industry professionals from around the world took home technical insights, information and ideas from the High Performance Fibers 2008 conference, held Oct. 28-29 in Charleston, S.C. The conference, organized by COMPOSITESWORLD Conferences, was co-chaired by Dana Granville, weapons and materials research directorate, U.S. Army Research Laboratory, and David Carlson, sales manager, ballistics, Teijin Aramid USA. More than 90 attendees from North America, Europe, Russia and Asia were treated to program high in fiber content, including a seminar, keynote speech and 18 diverse technical presentations.

In his comments formally opening the conference, Granville noted that fiber-reinforced composites in military applications continue to see robust growth, primarily as a result of increasing knowledge of the materials as well as new design capabilities. The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, for example, will be 40 percent composites, and the U.S. Navy is planning to significantly increase the amount of composites, primarily glass, in the manufacture of ships such as the DDG-1000 Zumwalt/DD(X). Granville also reported that the U.S. Army is on a mission to lighten heavily-armored combat vehicles through expanded use of fiber-filled materials. The goal is to build lighter combat vehicles that use less fuel and are C-130 transportable.

In his keynote speech, Tucker Norton said that design, wearability and comfort are now on equal footing with performance in the design of modern ballistic protection wear. Norton, global technology manager, ballistic threat protection, at DuPont Advanced Fiber Systems (Richmond, VA), noted that while police officers wearing protective vests are 14 times less likely to be killed in the line of duty, only about 50 percent of the nation’s police force wear their vests. DuPont’s new Kevlar XP enables at least 10 percent lighter vest design while still meeting the more stringent NIJ Level IIIA ballistic protection test requirements. Norton reported that vests made from Kevlar XP typically stop .44 magnum bullets within the first three layers of an 11-layer vest. Norton also claimed that that material helps body armor manufacturers to reduce costs due to fewer layers and minimal stitching during vest assembly.

Look for a full report on the conference in the January 2009 issue of High-Performance Composites magazine. Also, don't forget that the Carbon Fiber 2008 is upcoming, Dec. 8-10, also at the Charleston Marriott Hotel in Charleston, S.C. Visit www.compositesworld.com/cf for more information.