Composites in the News Last Week

May 17, 2010

The theme in aerospace last week was collaboration. The National Institute of Aviation Research (NIAR) in Wichita partnered with Firehole Technologies for more efficient design of composite aircrafts. British-based University of Bristol is now in collaboration with the University of Oxford and Smiths Aerospace to develop shape-shifting composite wings. Quatro Composites began the design phase for composite wiper blades for the Sikorsky CH-53K helicopter. Kemrock Industries signed a memorandum forming a joint venture with Saertex in advanced composite, renewable energy and aerospace segments. Even countries were working together, as the EU called for unconditional talks with the U.S. to resolve the Boeing-Airbus subsidies dispute.

While high-end automakers such as Aston Martin and Porsche are expanding carbon fiber usage, Ferrari said it won’t use the material for its entire line-up, but rather special cars with a low rate of production. Still, other automotive-related areas are growing. India’s car sales are up close to 40 percent from a year ago, and their usage of plastics and composites have risen 75 percent over the past two decades. Natural fiber and hemp usage is projected to increase in Europe and China, where it will play a large role in developing bio-based composites for automotive applications.

In other Chinese market news, the region’s window and door panel market is growing annually at a rate of 11 percent thanks largely to composites. Other infrastructure developments include the building of the first composite bridge in the Netherlands, constructed in Utrecht using structural balsa cores. In the U.S., Axion has completed a plastic railroad bridge, using a thermoplastic solution consisting of nearly 100 percent recycled post-consumer and industrial plastic. The Los Angeles Downtown Women’s Center used FRP composites in the renovation of its new residential facility. More composite developments could be coming, as the National Science Foundation will hold a meeting in June to discuss integration of composites into infrastructure.

Looking at renewable energy, China-based Longyuan Power Group says it plans to spend $13 billion over the next five years in an attempt to become the world’s no. 1 wind-power producer; which coincides with a statement earlier this week from the President Jesus Zaldua of Gamesa’s Chinese subsidiary. Zaldua said western wind turbine manufacturers are losing ground and predicts some will have to leave the area in the next few years. That doesn’t mean there’s a shortage of western development. The state of Massachusetts announced it is revamping its small-wind rebate program and Maine kicked off its Wind Energy Week to build support for developing a major manufacturing and service sector in the state. A new $117 million wind farm slated for the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii is slated to create 200 jobs and bring more renewable energy to the island.

The marine industry has some events on the horizon. The Marine Industry Association set new dates for two key boat shows in 2011. Boating advocates in the U.S. are focusing on growing recreational boating and importance of local marinas in a Boat. Fish. Live. At National Marina Day, to be held June 12. Elsewhere in the market, SP-High Modulus secured further approval for its new marine foam core, and Taylor Made Group LLC announced that Dennis Flint was appointed Chairman of the Board in addition to his current CEO responsibilities.

Controversy over the use of composite bats is heating up. The American Softball Association is considering implementing a testing machine which would reject bats whose batted-ball speed was too high. The Marmonte high school league in California is strongly considering eliminating the bats entirely. Elsewhere in recreation, Zipp unveiled its first all-carbon road clincher wheels, a change from the company’s previous method of combining carbon with alloy, while French biking squad Cofidis is switching to small Taiwanese company microSHIFT for its carbon fiber drivetrains.

Finally, The American Composites Manufacturers Association is hosting a webinar on how to avoid dust violations from OSHA.

For daily composites updates, subscribe to CM Twitter.

Renew Your CM Subscription