SAMPE Europe's Summit 18 Conference

Originally titled 'SAMPE Europe's Summit 18 Conference'

Well-produced and well-attended, this one-day conference slated the Monday before JEC World 2018 addressed topics as diverse as the place of artificial intelligence in the industrial factory and advances in architectural roof design.

SAMPE Europe (Beauchamp, France) staged a successful and well-attended gathering, dubbed Summit 18, at the Pullman Hotel Paris Tour Eiffel on March 5, the Monday before JEC World 2018. Following a welcome by Prof. Jyrki Vuorinen, SAMPE Europe’s president, the keynote address for the opening session on Automation and Manufacturing was given by Avner Ben-Bassat, president and CEO of Plataine (Waltham, MA, US). He spoke on the topics of artificial intelligence, the Industrial Internet of Things and the journey to the digital factory. A key takeaway was the concept of a human:machine team — the human is relieved of tedious and mundane tasks, while the machine, or digital assistant, becomes more intelligent by learning and mastering those tasks.

Ben Halford, CEO of Surface Generation Ltd. (Oakham, Rutland, UK) spoke about the need for composites to meet three goals: 1) stop making “black metal,” 2) start speeding up production and 3) expand the markets in which composites can be applied. He pointed to other industries where millions of articles are made each day, with 100% quality, and challenged the audience to strive for higher yields, and greatly reduced scrap, at much faster speeds. Toward that end, Halford claimed that his company’s PtFS (Production to Functional Specifications) technology can reduce cycle time by an order of magnitude though selective, controlled application of heat and pressure.

JEC Group’s media director and editor-in-chief Frédéric Reux presented a comprehensive market report on composites, citing a worldwide market volume in 2016 of 11 million MT, with a value of US$82 billion. Asia represented roughly 50% of that market, and in his view, will be the fastest growing region going forward, at 6.5% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) through 2019. He cautioned, however, that “Composites should have an industry-wide organization, like steel and aluminum have, to help grow our reach, going forward.”

The second block was anchored by keynoter Dr. Christian Weimer of Airbus Germany (Hamburg), general manager, materials and head of materials X. He addressed the issue of materials and process technologies as key enablers for aerospace innovation, and spoke about the new Airbus concepts: the E-Fan X, a hybrid-electric aircraft demonstrator, and the Vahana, an autonomous air taxi.

Next, Dr. Fabrizio Scarpa, professor of smart materials and structures at the University of Bristol (Bristol, UK), reviewed the wide range of materials that are changeable in response to temperature, pH, magnetic fields, electrical current, stress fields, light and more. The global market for these smart polymers and composites, he claims, was about US$28 billion in 2013, and has grown at a 12.5% rate since.

NONA Composites (Dayton, OH, US) president Ben Dietsch spoke about that company’s “no oven, no autoclave” philosophy, which eschews prepreg for dry materials, with a cost reportedly 50% lower than that of prepreg. Says Dietsch, “20-30% of recurring part costs comes from material cost, and 10-15% of recurring costs involves curing costs, and autoclaves are costly.” Barriers to greater adoption of infusion methods, such as resin transfer molding (RTM), include the fact that many infusion resin systems are not qualified, or unavailable with tougheners, and RTM tooling costs can be high.

Professor Werner Sobek, founder of the Werner Sobek Group GmbH (Stuttgart, Germany) and head of the ILEK (Institut für Leichtbau Entwerfen und Konstruieren) at the University of Stuttgart, spoke of “build for more, using less.” He gave attendees a glimpse of architectural trends — in particular, the use of thin concrete shells, where “dead weight becomes a non-issue,” thanks to avoidance of overdesign.

Ramiro Gonzalez, the operations manager at Carbures Civil Works (Madrid, Spain), together with Santiago Perez-Castillo of Saertex (Saerbeck, Germany) described the process by which the “Pavilion of Inspirations” at the Norman Foster Foundation headquarters in Madrid was designed and constructed, in particular, its composite roof. See the CW story on this project here

Next up was Torben Jacobsen, senior director of manufacturing and production at LM Wind Power (Lunderskov, Denmark), who spoke of the challenges of building an 88.4m wind turbine blade, including manufacturing the very thick root section, managing cycle time/cure time and impact of the blade’s enormous weight on transport: “Just the bagging film, alone, is a huge challenge.” For the future, he says that the company will begin to use more carbon fiber and more thermoplastic materials, along with more optimized parts that will employ rib structures.

Jean Luc Macret, the senior manager of research and technology at ARIANE Group (Courcouronnes, France). Macret’s outlook for the company’s space vehicles is that by 2020, they will be 60% composite, including the ARIANE 6’s filament-wound solid rocket booster at 11.7m long and 3.1m in diameter. Dr. Christian Sauer, the senior director for commercial and business development at Lufthansa Technik (Hamburg, Germany) took the stage to discuss the issue of repairs of composite aircraft structure. He described a milling robot that can be attached to the plane to safely mill the repair scarf area — a 2-ft diameter repair can reportedly be done in two minutes with the robotic solution.

The final speaker was Tia Benson-Tolle, the director of materials and fabrication at The Boeing Co. (Chicago, IL, US). Her presentation, entitled “Challenges and Applications for Materials and Fabrication,” focused on four areas where capabilities can be improved: aircraft systems, engines, materials and aerodynamics. “Materials systems are very complex today, and can be, for example, biomimetic, nano-tailored, virtually designed, and more. The future is no longer defined by one type of material,” says Benson-Tolle. She emphasized the increasing importance of manufacturability, and the increasing need for data analytics and design tools.

The afternoon ended with a panel discussion, led by Arnt Offringa of GKN Aerospace Fokker Aerostructures (Papendrecht, Netherlands), with the speakers taking questions from the audience. After closing remarks by Vuorinen, the day concluded with a networking dinner at the Pullman’s Roof Top Restaurant. SAMPE Europe’s next event will be the SAMPE Conference 18 Southampton, September 11-13, 2018, at the Hilton Ageas Bowl in Southhampton, UK. Here’s a link to the event: https://www.sampe-europe.org/conferences/sampe-conference-18-southampton.