Composites UK are proud to announce the UK's premier awards dinner to coincide with the Composites Engineering Show
Composites UK, the official trade association for the UK composites industry has announced an awards dinner to coincide with the Composites Engineering Show at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre (NEC).
The dinner, which will take place on the 7th November at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on the NEC complex will celebrate innovations in composite materials, design and manufacturing giving out awards to the winners of each of these categories. The winners and runners up will also be invited to showcase their entries in the Composites UK Showcase area on the show floor at Composites Engineering.
All companies within the composites sector from the UK are welcome to submit entries for the awards. This can be done by downloading a form from http://www.compositesuk.co.uk/InnovationAwards2012.aspx. Deadline for entries is 4th September 2012.
Companies wanting to attend the dinner can do so at £40 per place for Composites UK members and £50 per place for non-members. Tables of 10 are also available for purchase.
The dinner is set to become a premier event in the composites event calendar with places expected to sell out therefore early booking is advised.
Details of how to enter the awards, sponsorship opportunities and seat/table booking can be found at http://www.compositesuk.co.uk/InnovationAwards2012.aspx.
Composites UK sees an Increase in Members Signing the SiMPL Pledge
The Safety in Manufacturing Plastics and Composites (SiMPL) initiative was launched at the end of 2011 to raise the awareness of health and safety issues in the plastics industry of which composites forms a part of and will run until the end of 2014.
The strategy will be achieved through a series of defined targets to drive improvement as well as measure performance. The overall aim is to reduce accidents, ill health, lost time as well as improve the industry’s safety performance.
Composites UK have been working with other industry trade associations as well as the Health and Safety Executive to get this information out to companies within this sector. The full SiMPL strategy document can be viewed at http://www.hse.gov.uk/plastics/simpl-final.pdf.
After a drive within the membership, Composites UK are proud that the following companies have signed the SiMPL Pledge to show their support to this initiative. They are:
- AJ Glassfibre Limited
- CCP Composites
- Composites Fibreglass Mouldings
- Combined Composites Technologies
- Lamplas (Durham) Limited
- Medway Fiberglass Limited
- Momentive Specialty Chemicals
- Parton Fibreglass Limited
This programme is a real opportunity and one which places actions on Employers, Trade Associations, Trade Unions and the Health and Safety Executive representing a significant shift of emphasis - one directed very much more to continuous improvement and not just compliance and as such changes in attitude, and tangible improvements will be needed.
Member companies are encouraged to contact the administration office should they wish to sign the SiMPL Pledge or require further information.
Biotex Flax Fabric from Composites Evolution Used to Create Eco-Friendly Surfboard
Samsara Surfboards has created a stringerless surfboard using Composites Evolution’s Biotex Flax Fabric in the place of standard carbon or glass fibre.
According to Samsara, carbon fibre is currently the surfing industry standard reinforcement for stringerless boards. Jason Wiggers, Owner of Samsara, said “Composites Evolution was referred to me by Carbon Fiber Australia. After looking at the Biotex technical data I was impressed.”
Samsara, based in Victoria, Australia, pride themselves on producing Australia’s most eco-friendly surfboards using the latest materials to create the most environmentally friendly boards they can. All materials used are sustainable and the boards are either precision machined or hand-made.
Wiggers explains “Biotex can be used in the same way as fibreglass or carbon fibre allowing us to do a wet layup directly onto the board, which meant we didn’t have to change the process. Biotex cuts the same and, once wetted out, can be applied to the foam in the same way.”
Under test, the flax surfboard reportedly performs very well. “The surfboard performs amazingly” says Wiggers. The new design gives you more return in high energy from the board through rapid spring back, so when you do a turn the board is flexing under tension and when you exit the turn the energy is released back to you resulting in ultimate speed” continues Wiggers.
Samsara now plans to do a run of production boards featuring the flax fibre and will be running a competition to find a test rider to sponsor who will assist with honing the design. They will also be experimenting with different surfacing textiles to work with the Biotex; they current use a 6/4 oz fibreglass mat combination but going forwards they expect to change this to a bamboo fabric which is laminated under tension and is significantly lighter.
Brendon Weager, Managing Director of Composites Evolution, said “we are delighted to be working with Samsara because they have a real passion for sustainability and are pushing the boundaries in green surfboard manufacturing. By using Biotex in combination with other eco materials, they have created a product that performs well, looks great and has minimal impact on the environment”.
epm: technology measures up!
epm technology are best known as a leading composite component supplier to Aerospace and F1 markets but now through a new business division, selling special project engineering services epm have delivered their first contribution to the London Olympic games.
“We are obviously very pleased to be involved in any way with the London summer Games” explains MD and owner of epm technology group Graham Mulholland. “This is especially interesting to me as in my younger days I was a Slalom Canoeist and my competition canoe was made from composite materials which regularly needed a repair and that’s the spark which contributed to the development of epm technology group, which I started in 1996. We are therefore really pleased about our first contribution to this summer’s games and being connected to Slalom Canoeing.”
Mulholland explains “epm technology has designed and manufactured the measuring equipment for Canoe Slalom UK, to supply to the International Canoe Federation. The equipment has already been used in a warm up event at the Cardiff Canoe Slalom World Cup Race 1. Now proven they are all ready for the main event, the Olympic Races to be held at Lee Valley White Water Centre from 29th July to 2nd August.”
Mulholland continued “Designing a piece of equipment to efficiently measure over 500 competition canoes through a pre-race scrutineering process was an interesting challenge for epm. The project has developed into a dry run for our new project engineering/knowledge exchange services, which in time will be helping customers to solve problems and help future non-composite customers to design products and understand composites better. This can then develop into producing one off components or components in batch production runs that require full engineering support. Once the projects have been proven they can even be transferred back to the client for them to manage their own production requirements if required or we continue to support their requirements.”
“In our immediate past there has been a 12m yacht table for the world’s most expensive privately owned yacht, 7.2m clock hands for The Harmony Clock Tower in China and now this critical calibrated measuring equipment for the summer games, these have all gone through a formal process to support new customers to composites. It therefore makes sense to formalize these activities into their own division, offering chargeable services. This is all about knowledge and technology delivery.”
This clearly splits epm into three core activities, F1 component manufacture and assembly supply, project engineering and know-how exchange and production of composite parts that are complex and/or structural in a batch production environment for Aerospace and Automotive markets.
Mulholland concluded “It is funny how things come full circle from being a Slalom Canoeist competing, week in week out. To supporting the sport using the know-how from the business, the sport itself ‘in no small way’ contributed to making epm what it is today.”
Team MPM lead the way in manufacturing excellence
MPM’s last minute decision to attend the YP awards dinner paid off after they successfully collected 3 awards, much to the delight and modesty of the whole MPM team.
In fact MPM won all 3 of the awards for which they entered:
Highly Commended: BIT NVQ Programme - Small Company, MPM
Winner: Most improved Individual - Small Company, Dylan Wilson
Winner: Apprentice of the Year - Small Company, Josh Pickersgill
Over 150 guests, from manufacturing companies across the north of England, attended the YP Training Awards 2012. The awards are for significant efficiency improvements amongst manufacturing companies and also recognise outstanding contributions from individual employees, including apprentices.
Advanced Insulation Receives Queen's Award
Advanced Insulation was greatly honoured to receive the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade in 2012. It reflects the substantial growth in the company’s activity in the recent years, particularly since its move to new purpose-built premises at Quedgeley West Business Park in Gloucestershire during 2011.
Previously based in Berkeley, Gloucestershire, the company specialises in silicone and phenolic fire protection and insulation products for use in oil and gas developments around the world. These products, marketed under the ContraTherm®, ContraFlame® and ContraFlex® brand names, are used to insulate subsea structures and provide high intensity fire protection to the pipes and surface processing equipment used to stabilise the hydrocarbon fluids produced in the field.
Employing 100 people globally, the company’s activities are supported by satellite factories in Leeds and Arbroath, and a network of offices overseas.
Encouraging Engineering Excellence
Atlas Composites were on hand to encourage the UK's engineers of the future by offering practical advice to a team of budding engineers at this weekend’s Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) event at RAF Fairford 7 - 8th July.
Eight teams of students from schools in the Cotswolds area each teamed up with an industry mentor to compete in The Lockheed Martin TRI@RIAT Warrior Engineering Challenge.
Step forwards 'Team Raptor' mentored by Atlas Composites Head of Engineering Andrew Taylor with students from the nearby Royal Wootton Bassett Academy.
Their challenge for the day was to design and build a scale-model ground machine, based on the Lockheed Martin Warrior armoured vehicle, capable of tackling a speed test and separate obstacle course.
Marks were awarded for team work, design and efficient use of materials, as well as speed, accuracy and overall quality.
The competition was judged by Tom Burbage, Executive Vice President for Lockheed Martin UK, and Air Commodore David Bywater and Dr Jim Glover, Directors of the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust Enterprises.
In spite of a gallant first place in the time trial and a sterling effort over the obstacle course, Team Raptor were just edged out on the day finishing runners up to Carterton Community College.
Commenting on Team Raptor's achievements Atlas Composites Head of Engineering Andrew Taylor said "It was fantastic to see the enthusiasm and ingenuity displayed by all of the young Engineers of the future. The experience gained from working hands-on on a real-world Engineering problem is absolutely invaluable."
"The students from The Royal Wootton Bassett Academy did amazingly well to manufacture the best-performing vehicle of the challenge and had great fun in the process." Taylor added.
Umeco Process materials Ltd. achieves upgrade accreditation to AS9100 revision C Aerospace Certification Standard
On 28th June 2012 Umeco Process Materials successfully completed the transition audit from AS9100:2003 revision B to revision C, Aerospace Quality Standard. Although both are based on the existing ISO9001:2008, there are several more challenges in the rev C system, including an adherence to the ‘process approach’, project management and continuous monitoring, measurement and, above all, improvement.
Achieving the accreditation to the AS9100 rev C standard assures Umeco’s aviation, space and defence customers that our quality system serves to improve both product and service quality, as well as on time delivery along the same lines as those used in the automotive industry TS16949 standard.
Umeco’s certification to AS9100 rev C includes all clauses of the standard, including 7.3.1 to 7.3.7 (design), meaning that Umeco can offer the full range of bespoke, value added services to the aerospace sector, such as kitted vacuum consumables and reusable vacuum bags.
NetComposites Launches New Website Highlighting Recently Changed Corporate Identity
NetComposites has launched its new website and newsletter highlighting their recently updated corporate identity.
The new brand has been designed to reflect NetComposites as it is today, a forward thinking innovative company servicing the composites industry worldwide. NetComposites explains that the new brand focuses on the 4 key areas of the business; Technology, Insight, Information and Stores.
"NetComposites is a fast-growing company that has a lot to offer the composites industry," said Gemma Smith, NetComposites Communications Manager. "Our new brand illustrates who we are and what we have to offer the industry. Since the launch of the company, over ten years ago, we have developed immensely, adapting and modifying the business to meet the needs of an ever-changing industry. "
NetComposites says the website has been simplified to make it clearer to the user which area of the business they are dealing with when on the site. They say it has an improved search enabling users to find what they are looking for in a more efficient and effective way.
The Store area of the site has seen dramatic improvements and Jo Quibell, NetComposites Store Coordinator says, “We invite all customers, new and old, to take a look at the new Store. We’ve made it easier to search and buy products, whether you know the broad subject, category or the actual product name.”
NetComposites will be working on the site going forwards and say that users can expect to see new and exciting additions over the coming year.
Cutwel Realise Quality Really Counts
Understanding carbon fibre composites holds no secrets; manufacturers of these materials will tell you how they are made but not always how to machine them.
Carbon fibers are usually bundled together to form a tow which may be used by itself or woven into a fabric. The end user will then turn the material into manufactured parts which are made by using various manufacturing technical processes and at some point will require machining and inspecting.
How to machine or cut this material is a different story, carbon fiber composites are historically very abrasive materials by nature; cutting tools can often wear or fail very quickly, blunt or in correct geometry tools can cause delamination or damage parts. Quality is the key to producing these components to exacting tolerances. Not only have drawing dimensions become much tighter, the visual or aesthetics of a finished part needs to be right every time all the time.
As the use a of carbon fibre parts grows and will continue to do so to meet demand, only the best cutters will do. Cutwel Ltd have introduced a range of Karnasch PCD and CVD cutters to such high standards that each individual cutter now comes supplied with its own Inspection Certificate which shows nominal diameter tolerance with radius and run out tolerance dimensions.
These cutters need to be held precisely to achieve the best machining accuracy so to compliment this, Cutwel also supply a range of high specification hydraulic expansion chucks from Atom, one of Koreas leading spindle tooling manufacturers. These offer a high quality run out at <0.003 with a standard balance of 20,000 RPM (higher balance available on request). These holders produce a dampening effect that reduces vibration, improves tool life, surface finish and allows for cutting data to be increased.
Inspection can then be carried out using a full range of measuring equipment from Insize, a dedicated supplier of measuring equipment. These instruments include thickness gauges, endoscopes for internal and visual checks in confined and awkward to reach places, microscopes for visual and dimensional checking, and standard digital measuring equipment for everyday use like calipers, micrometers and height gauges.
Composites – SGS Know the Drill
The determined drive of the aerospace industry to enhance the performance of commercial and military aircraft is constantly pushing forward the development of improved high performance structural materials. Composite materials are playing a significant role in current and future aerospace components, and are particularly attractive for aerospace applications because of their exceptional strength and stiffness-to-density ratios and superior physical properties. However, these benefits come at a price as SGS Carbide Tool’s composites machining specialist, Martyn Wiltshire, explains.
Composite materials can provide a much better strength-to-weight ratio compared to metals, around 20 per cent better. The lower weight results in reduced fuel consumption and emissions and, because composite structures need fewer riveted joints, enhanced aerodynamic efficiencies and lower manufacturing costs.
By way of comparison, the ultimate strength of aerospace grade aluminium alloys is typically 450 MPa, a carbon fibre composite would be five times that value. Additionally, composites are only 60 per cent the density of aluminium, so the potential for weight reduction in an aircraft is very apparent.
In addition to strength and weight, composites are thought to be virtually immune from ‘fatigue’. Because of the non-homogeneous structure of composites cracks do not spread, allowing structural engineers to perform design and analysis assuming much higher resistance to stress, and increased long-term durability.
The better known man-made composite materials, used in the aerospace and other industries, are carbon- and glass-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP and GFRP) which consist of carbon and glass fibres, both of which are stiff and strong, but brittle, in a polymer matrix, which is tough but neither particularly stiff nor strong. By combining materials with complementary properties in this way, a composite material with most or all of the benefits (high strength, stiffness, toughness and low density) is obtained with few or none of the weaknesses of the individual component materials.
Composite materials were originally used in small quantities in military aircraft in the 1960s, and within civil aviation from the 1970s. By the 1980s, composites were being used by civil aircraft manufacturers for a variety of secondary wing and tail components such as rudder and wing trailing edge panels.
However, it is with the advent of the latest generation of airliners, such as the Airbus A380 that these materials have been deployed extensively in the primary load carrying structure. The A380 uses composite materials in its wings, which helps enable a 17 per cent lower fuel use per passenger than comparable aircraft. Composite materials comprise more than 20 per cent of the A380's airframe, where it is used extensively in wings, fuselage sections such as the undercarriage and rear end of fuselage, tail surfaces, and doors.
The A380 also makes extensive use of GLARE (glass-fibre reinforced aluminium alloy), which features in the front fairing, upper fuselage shells, crown and side panels, and the upper sections of the forward and aft upper fuselage. GLARE laminates are made up of four or more 0.38 mm thick sheets of aluminium alloy and glass fibre resin bond film. GLARE offers weight savings of between 15 and 30 per cent over aluminium alloy along with exceptional fatigue resistance. The top and bottom skin panels of the A380 and the front, centre and rear spars contain CFRP, which is also used for the rear pressure bulkhead, the upper deck floor beams, and for the ailerons, spoilers and outer flaps. The belly fairing consists of about 100 composite honeycomb panels.
Following the Airbus lead a number of current large aircraft development programmes are looking to use composites more extensively within the wings and fuselage. The Boeing 787 ‘Dreamliner’, for example, will be as much as 50 per cent composites. This revolutionary aircraft uses a novel process of ‘winding’ composite layers, like the winding of a cotton reel, in the fabrication of large, joint-less, fuselage sections. Meanwhile the Airbus A400M, the next generation of military airlifter expected to make its first flight later this year, similarly has wings made from carbon fibre composites. This aircraft is designed to withstand the severe loads associated with operations from informal landing strips like deserts and fields, and it benefits from the superior fatigue resistance of carbon composites.
Another advantage of composite materials is that, generally speaking, they can be formed into more complex shapes than their metallic counterparts. This reduces the number of parts making up a given component, thereby reducing the need for fasteners and joints. The advantages of which are twofold: fasteners and joints may be the weak points of a component and fewer fasteners and joints can shorten assembly times.
However, hole making, predominantly for joining, represents around 90 per cent of carbon fibre machining requirements in the aerospace industry. Structural aircraft components such as wing boxes, spars, stringers and skins are made from various composite materials, while other complex structures, such as fuselage central wing boxes, are made from several types of composite material often stacked with alloys. All require hundreds of holes drilled in them.
So, the drills selected must be able to withstand the harsh demands of the latest CFRP materials and aluminium stacks. However, attributes such as long tool life and precision need to be matched with impressive performance. The geometry should be designed specially to counter common problems such as splintering or fraying that compromise composite hole quality.
Thrust force is a critical factor in the onset of delamination and splintering. Geometries should be designed to reduce thrust and to achieve correct cutting of carbon fibres in order to achieve rigorous hole quality demands. In the aerospace sector, typical hole requirements include surface finish of better than Ra 4.8 µm, delamination of less than 1 mm over the diameter, and no composite splintering.
Production engineers should be looking to their industry partners to help increase hole making performance in composite and stacked material applications. The performance data is dependent purely upon application, and SGS has gathered a significant amount of cutting tool data in various production and development scenarios. The cutting tool edge preparation and point geometry play a significant factor in the tools performance and life, and here experience and the ability to modify parameters count. Machining strategies must also be considered with techniques such as orbital drilling being developed and exploited.
Mixed material stacks create the most demanding applications, with sandwiches of very disparate materials such as carbon composite, titanium and aluminium all requiring different cutting conditions. This is being compounded by many manufacturers now looking for one-shot solutions, so as well as the hole being created the external surface is finished with a countersink or a spot face.
No doubt the considerable benefits offered by composites have yet to be fully exploited and as knowledge and understanding grow, composite materials will play an increasingly significant role. This role will expand not only as a result of improved material performance, but also as our ingenuity finds more and diverse areas where composite materials can be beneficially and advantageously applied.
The environmental case for developing the industry’s understanding and increasing its exploitation of composites is compelling. The Stern Review, 2006, identified that 1.6 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions come from aviation, but that the demand for air travel will rise with our income.
To combat the environmental threat that aviation poses, the Advisory Council for Aeronautical Research in Europe in 2002 laid out targets to reduce the emission of CO2 from an aircraft by 50 per cent before 2020. The reduction of airframe weight using carbon composites is just one of a range of technologies that must be embraced to meet this challenging target.
CDUK Supply a New Generation Composite Press
Langzauner, a pioneer of pressing technology for composites, has introduced the LZK-OK 130; the first in a new series of high-precision presses which is capable of accommodating all pressing methods, and has the ability to easily create entire process programs. Employing the latest variable-speed hydraulic drive technology, the LZK-OK 130 sets new standards of precision whilst reducing energy usage and lowering operating noise levels.
Development of the new Langzauner press marks a move away from conventional proportional valve technology for the hydraulic unit, to a variable-speed drive where an internal gear pump, driven by a servo motor, generates the precise amount of pressure ‘on-demand’. The whole pressing procedure is menu-controlled and control tasks are via an optimised operating system, with 15” touch-screen, which also records operating data to CSV files.
All the parameters and functions can be configured individually – from the pressing power and closing speed, to the strength and duration of heating. The newly-designed press is the first of its kind on the market that can handle all pressing techniques; including RTM, prepreg and injection moulding. The demand for accuracy is fully met thanks to a pressure deviation of around 1%, together with a capability of pressing to size at a tolerance of ±0.01mm.
The thermo-oil heating and cooling device is fully integrated and, via the flexible press ram and sliding table, directly and indirectly-heated moulds can be utilised or panels can be accommodated. Loading and unloading the press is performed externally using a driven sliding feed table. Personal safety protection around the press includes a vertical sliding door, with viewing panel, which closes once the work-piece is in position. The press is further protected by light barriers and fixed grills.
In the UK, Austrian manufacturer Langzauner is represented by CD (UK) Ltd., with its machinery sales division led by Eric Whorne. Eric, who has spent most of his working life involved with press technology, believes the LZK-OK 130’s ability to provide high flexibility composite pressing will make it very attractive to the automotive and aerospace sectors, as well as for research and development facilities.
Cristex Develops Partnertship with Saertex
SAERTEX®, a global leader in the production of non-crimp fabrics (NCF) and special solutions, introduces a new range of continuous fibre-reinforced thermoplastic materials. The combination of glassfibre and carbonfibre NCFs with thermoplastic resins (such as PA6, PA66, PP) establishes new applications for composites and offers the user:
- Material mouldable by heat
- Can be processed by injection moulding and stamping
- High mechanical properties
- Weight reduction
- Shorter cycle times
Products range from Dry NCF’s for TP applications to partly of fully consolidated organic sheets from Thermoplastic pre-pregs to pressed plates and are available on rolls or as cut plates.
Additionally sandwich structures with NCF-PP surface layers plus honeycomb are also available where high compressive strength combined with weight reduction are an advantage.
SAERTEX® provides technical solutions in thermoplastic and thermoset composite materials.
For further information please contact CRISTEX LIMITED working in partnership with SAERTEX® in the UK for over 20 years.
Cristex Limited will be exhibiting at The Composite Engineering Show 2012 at the NEC Birmingham, Hall 1, Stand 731 on 7th/8th November.