Innovation Awards winners announced by JEC

Winners will be officially recognized at the JEC COMPOSITES show in Paris, France.

On Jan. 30, the JEC Group (Paris, France) announced the winners of the 2009 JEC Innovation Awards Program in advance of the upcoming JEC Composites Show, to be held March 24-26, 2009. This year, eight composites manufacturers and their development partners will receive awards. Winners were selected by an international jury of experts, based on technical interest, market potential, partnership, financial impact and originality of the application.

The winners were selected from the following categories: Raw Materials, Process, Automation, Aeronautics, Building & Construction, Transportation and Environment & Energy. The awards ceremony will take place on March 24 at 5:00 p.m. on the JEC Show exhibition floor and will be open to all show visitors. UMECO Composites (Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, U.K.), an Official Partner, and Huntsman Advanced Materials (The Woodlands, Texas), a Gold Sponsor, supported the awards program.

The winner in the Aeronautics category is Premium Aerotec (formerly EADS Defense & Security, Augsburg, Germany) for its A400M composite cargo door (see end note). At roughly 7m by 4m (23 ft by 13 ft), the geometrically complex structural component is the world’s largest primary carbon/epoxy structure that is made using resin infusion. The judges liked the application of infusion to a very large part, integrating skin and reinforcing stringers in a single shot and eliminating thousands of fasteners, outcomes that reduced both production cost and part weight.

Two winners will share top honors in Building & Construction. Glass/thermoplastic fiber-reinforced windows by Bouvet S.A. (La Membrolle, France) and Groupe Lorillard (Chartres, France), with partners Rossi Stamp (Bando di Argenta, Italy) and Owens Corning Composite Materials LLC (Toledo, Ohio), replace a previously labor-intensive window lineal design that called for pultruding profiles and reinforcing them with metal inserts. The new process allows local reinforcement, using Owens Corning’s Twintex woven commingled glass/thermoplastic fiber material. The other winner is an architectural façade produced by Skandinaviska Glassystem AB (Göteborg, Sweden) in cooperation with partner DIAB Group AB (Laholm, Sweden). The façade is an innovative modular system that uses sandwich panels to support both glass and marble elements.

In the Automation category, judges tapped a robotic welding system for thermoplastic composites (see photo), which was made by KUKA Robotics GmbH (Augsburg, Germany) with partners Institut für Verbundwerkstoffe (Kaiserslautern, Germany), Bond-Laminates GmbH (Brilon, Germany) and Jacob Composite GmbH (Wilhelmsdorf, Germany). The three-dimensional welding process joins large, complex and curved parts.
The Environment & Energy winner is a sea-wave energy converter by partners Fred. Olsen Energy ASA (Oslo, Norway), 3B - The Fibreglass Co. (Brussels, Belgium), Ghent University (Ghent, Belgium) and others. The device consists of a floating platform that supports oscillating buoys on the water surface, which converts wave energy to electricity. The device is a component of the Wave Hub project, which aims to demonstrate and validate the operation of an array of the devices in the U.K.’s first offshore wave-energy generation facility, slated for launch in 2010.

In the Process category, the winning entry is a thermoplastic tape placement process for in-situ consolidation, developed by Institut für Verbundwerkstoffe GmbH and partner Airbus Composite Technology (Bremen, Germany). The automated placement head can lay down thermoplastic composite tapes even on complex, double-curved mold structures, and the tapes are cured on the fly.

Huntsman Advanced Materials (The Woodlands, Texas) topped the Raw Materials category for its two new resin systems for high-performance fuel cells, based on benzoxazine and bismaleimide chemistries.
Finally, the Transportation category winner is Profile Composites Inc. (Sidney, British Columbia, Canada) and partners: the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences (Ann Arbor, Mich.), A&P Technology Inc. (Cincinnati, Ohio), Bayer MaterialScience LLC (Pittsburgh, Pa.), MAG Cincinnati (Hebron, Ky.) and Toyota Engineering (Tokyo, Japan). The group is using resin transfer molding of dry fiber preforms in place of the filament winding process to make high-pressure storage tanks for use on alternative-fuel-powered vehicles.
Awards will be presented and the entrants’ applications will be on display at the JEC Show in Paris (see our “Preview” on p. 32) together with new products and technologies from hundreds of exhibitors. Watch for our wrap-up of the show in HPC July 2009.