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3/30/2009 | 4 MINUTE READ

JEC Composites show produces flurry of composites news

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Amber, Axson announce cooperation agreement; DSM, BÜFA launch two joint ventures; Hexcel will use Imperium ultrasonic cameras for NDI; Umeco reorganizes to create two primary business groups.


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The JEC Composites show last week in Paris, France produced several announcements of joint ventures, reorganizations and other news. Highlights follow:

Saertex (Huntersville, N.C., USA) garned much attention at the show for the cab (see photo, right) of a new all-composite bus for which the company provided design assistance and woven fabrics. The bus is being manufactured by Proterra LLC (Golden, Colo., USA). Look for more on this bus in a forthcoming issue of Composites Technology magazine.

Building on the success of their partnership in Germany and France, Amber Composites (Langley Mill, U.K.) and Axson Technologies (Cergy, France) have announced the addition of three European countries where the Axson/Amber complete composite solution is now available. Axson’s range of tooling materials, developed and refined to work with Amber Composite’s tooling and component prepreg, provide a one‐stop solution to composite production. Axson customers in Italy, Spain, and Portugal can now benefit from the package of products that has been proven by aerospace, automotive, and marine customers in Germany and France.

DSM Composite Resins (Schaffhausen, Switzerland) and BÜFA (Oldenburg, Germany) announced the completion of two joint venture agreements, one to create the first comprehensive pan-European distribution and support network for the composites industry going by the name of Euroresins and a second, going by the name of BÜFA Gelcoat+, as a developer and manufacturer of gelcoats, adhesives, pigment pastes and fire retardant products. Both companies will operate a shared business structure, with DSM having a majority share in the distribution business of Euroresins, and BÜFA taking the lead in the business for gelcoat, fire retardants and adhesives. DSM says the agreements herald an important change for the composites industry in Europe as small- to mid-sized customers will gain access, through Euroresins, to the combined know-how and product range of DSM and BÜFA, as well as from a growing number of other major industry suppliers of other materials such as glass, peroxides and auxiliaries. This means smaller firms can harness this expertise to use technologies previously only available to larger producers. DSM also says that it will soon introduce a bioresin comprised of a 50 percent bio-based feedstock. Patents are pending, so the company would not reveal the nature of the bio-material except to say that it's not been used until now in a bioresin for composites use.

Imperium Inc. (Silver Spring, Md.), a provider of ultrasonic camera solutions for non-destructive inspection (NDI) reports that Hexcel Corp. (Stamford, Conn.) has selected Imperium's Acoustocam I-500 for use by its Dublin, Calif., research lab to support application engineering efforts related to composite material inspection and evaluation of its molding material, HexMC and other composite materials. Alfonso Lopez, application engineer for Hexcel said, "Imperium's Acoustocam I-500 provides a terrific solution for non-NDI certified engineers to easily and effectively evaluate our composite materials in real-time. Our investigation of other NDI equipment indicates that they do not offer such unique value."

Umeco Composites (Leamington Spa, U.K., one of the two divisions within Umeco plc, an international provider of supply chain and advanced composite materials primarily to the aerospace and defense industries, has restructured its operations into two subsidiaries, Process Materials and Structural Materials, to give greater focus to these value added services for customers and ensure it meets its full potential to capture market opportunities. Umeco Composites Process Materials (UCPM) will be headed by Tim Cooper, the former managing director of Aerovac Systems and will comprise of the newly acquired IPM in Italy along with Richmond Aerovac and Med-Lab. Umeco Composites Structural Materials (UCSM) will be led by Jon Mabbitt, managing director of Advanced Composites Group Ltd. and includes JD Lincoln, GRPMS and Advanced Composites Group.

Cytec Engineered Materials Inc. (Tempe, Ariz.) introduced its new out-of-autoclave (OOA) toughened prepreg material for aerospace parts, designated and trademarked CYCOM 5320. The material, which can be oven-cured at relatively low temperature under a vacuum bag and shows mechanical performance equivalent to the company’s heritage CYCOM 977-3 180°C autoclave-cure toughened prepreg, based on extensive testing. The material is targeted to manufacturers making extremely large parts that are too large for an autoclave, and is well on its way to being qualified.

Gurit (Isle of Wight, U.K.) announced at a press conference several new company initiatives, including a collaboration with aerodynamics firm Garrad Hassan and Partners Ltd. (Bristol, U.K.), to complement its blade design capability, together with improved materials like SparPreg prepregs for blade spars. Also announced was a new ocean energy business area, so that the company can act as a Tier 1 supplier for wave and tidal power devices, providing design, prototyping and material selection services.

Bitbeam AB (Bromma, Sweden) announced its new three-dimensional weaving machine, which it claims is the world’s first, incorporating a “dual-directional shedding operation.” The machine is intended for complex woven 3-D shapes, including “Pi” flanges, H-, L-, T-, J- shapes and many more, made with high-performance fibers. The shapes, up to 120 by120 mm and 3m in length, can be infused and incorporated into complex structural composite parts, says the company.

Accudyne Systems Inc. (Newark, Del.) presented a paper at the SAMPE Europe SEICO conference at the nearby Hotel Mercure regarding the company’s now-patented thermoplastic tape laying system that can lay up parts using thermoplastic prepreg tapes and cure laminates on the fly with a gas-heated, conformable head, and can presently achieve mechanical part properties nearly comparable to autoclave processing; further research and development is underway.