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A crowded house of composites

A crowded house of composites

Composites in Manufacturing previews some of the companies demonstrating their latest products and innovations at this year’s JEC World in Paris.

We begin our round-up of exhibitors at JEC World 2017 with Cevotec (hall 6, stand S83). The company will present what it claims is the first industry-ready production solution for carbon composites that is based on Fibre Patch Placement (FPP) technology. FPP enables the fully-automated production of geometrically complex composites in a continuous process from virtual design to the fibre preform. In this way, aerospace engineering especially is provided with completely new possibilities in the production of mass-reduced components. Cevotec’s solution consists of Artist Studio, an easy-to-use CAD/CAM software, with a proprietary algorithm for generation optimised laminates, and Samba, the high-tech preforming system for complex 3D geometries and laminates with complex fibre orientation, developed jointly with Baumann Automation. Artist Studio, consisting of Patch Artist and Motion Artist, combines two modules that are aligned to one another along the virtual product development process: Patch Artist can be used to create patch-based high-performance laminates with variable fibre orientation and variable component thickness. The integrated algorithm ensures a decisive improvement of the laminate quality by optimising the patch overlaps of a curvilinear fibre architecture.

Also at the show Diab (hall 5A, stand N39) will reveal the excellent strength to weight ratio of its composite solutions. The company has a long track record of supplying to the aerospace industry. Visitors will be interested in its structural foam core Divinycell F, which was approved by Airbus under AIMS 04-11-000 and ABS5927 standards last year. Divinycell F is used in first and business class seats, lavatory interiors, galleys, luggage bins and window frames in aircraft from all major OEMs. Divinycell F saves up to 20% weight compared to a traditional honeycomb, allowing for substantial cost savings. The foam core minimises the need of labour intensive, and therefore costly, steps to achieve a high-quality surface finish. Featuring closed cells and minimum water absorption, Divinycell F also eliminates the need for edge filling. The low-weight material exceeds the requirements for aircraft interiors when it comes to FST. It’s also fully recyclable.

Representatives from Cristex will showcasing ADE-Fix self-adhesive thermofixed dry fabrics for resin transfer moulding at G.Angeloni (hall 6, stand E42). ADE-Fix, a recent introduction from the Italian composite material maker G.Angeloni, is only available in the UK through Cristex. The product has been developed for projects where a high-quality surface finish and a perfect fabric design is essential. ADE-Fix combines stabilising webs (WF1, WF2 and WF3) applied to one surface with a high tack epoxy coating applied to the opposite surface. The epoxy self-adhesive coating is fully compatible with and promotes a perfect bond to any epoxy resin system.

Also among the aisles at JEC World is Anaglyph (hall 5A, stand N62). The UK specialist will demonstrate its innovative hand-layup ply placement technology PlyMatch. The system uses augmented reality to show the live combined images of actual and target ply outlines and fibre orientation details on a monitor, so that the two can be matched by the operator. PlyMatch is used for the accurate placement of plies in hand lay-up manufacture of composite parts, as well as for monitoring and validation of automated methods. Anaglyph also has a number of software products such as Laminate Tools, a standalone Windows application, interfacing with most industry standards. It addresses the entire Design-Analysis-Check-Manufacture group process of structural design, but focusing on the composite material features. It complements existing CAD systems and/or FEA environments. Laminate Tools has native interfaces to Solidworks, Rhino, Nastran, Ansys and Abaqus. It helps optimise and manufacture exactly what is being designed and saves valuable team time.

Cutting machine specialist, Zünd (hall 5A, stand S41) will exhibit automation solutions for the composites market. With the G3 M-1600 and collaborative UR robot, the Swiss manufacturer presents a modular digital cutting system designed for improved productivity and performance. The seamlessly coordinated system components work together in a fully integrated digital workflow. The UR robot does not require caging or other protected workspace and relieves the operator of the repetitive task of sorting and unloading. The cut parts are automatically stacked and can be removed at any time without any interruptions to the production process. With a cutting area of 1,330 x 1,600mm the G3 M-1600 can handle anything from prepreg materials to dry weave and core materials, and even moulded parts. No matter whether carbon or glass fibre, aramid, pre-consolidated, semi-finished thermoplastics, hard foam or honeycomb – with its advanced tool design, Zünd offers high-performance cutting for every application.

Adhesives, sealants and functional coatings provider, Henkel (hall 6, stand D28) will exhibit a range of innovative composite materials and solutions at JEC World covering automotive and aerospace applications. During the event, its experts will provide information on the wide range of products. The company will exhibit a portfolio of products and applications for its global aerospace business. These will include advanced structural adhesives and interior and surface treatment solutions, including innovative lightweight surfacing films for composite materials.

Meanwhile, Alan Harper Composites (hall 5A, stand P11) will promote its new MagLoc air ejector. The ejector is designed to make the demoulding process of rigid parts easier from the mould using high pressure air. MagLoc comprises just two hardened precision steel parts locked together with neodymium magnetism, providing the simplest solution to construction and lower cost. Furthermore, being in contact with the cured moulding allows its 10mm diameter smooth face safely to locally eject the part and allow controlled high pressure air follow through to fully eject the component. The mould builder can either mould MagLoc into a composite mould or retrofit by sealing into a 13mm diameter hole. In operation, the smooth mould side face is kept closed with strong magnetic force and operated to open with a simple sharp blow to its base. Even thick and very rigid cured parts can be released in this manner.

On the UK Pavilion, (hall 5A, stand E78) Oxford Advanced Surfaces will promote its Onto-based products that deliver significant performance and productivity benefits for the surface preparation and adhesion promotion of materials. The company will also showcase a new surface treatment product that it will launch just before it heads to Paris. The new-to-market product is suitable for use across a variety of applications. It’s innovative because it can be cured using a drying step, followed by UV light treatment. The solution can also be cured using traditional heating methods, if necessary.

In the same hall, Tecnatom Group (hall 5A, stand L66) will presents its developments for the aerospace industry, particularly in the field of inspection systems, NDT and control engineering. The Spanish company will show the latest advances in the application of advanced ultrasonic techniques and complementary NDT methods. Thanks to the integration that Tecnatom has developed in its mechanical solutions based on robots, and to the flexible and modular conception of its electronic and ultrasonic elements on a standard platform, it can introduce different types of techniques in the field of NDT in a unique system (PE and TTU in waterjet, total or local immersion, air coupling or contactless methods). In addition, in-house developed software for data acquisition and evaluation, or inspection paths automated generation and positioning control are Tecnatom’s own technology.

Nearby, Hexcel’s aerospace advances (hall 5A, stand J41) include HiTape carbon fibre reinforcements for automated lay-up of preforms for aircraft structures manufactured by resin infusion. Displays include an Airbus A320neo fan cowl for the LEAP 1A engine made with Hexcel carbon fibre, structural prepreg, dry fabric and RTM6 resin, and an engineered core part that demonstrates its capabilities for transforming honeycomb into high quality drop-in parts. Also on display will be its Polyspeed pultruded carbon profiles.

In the adjoining hall, Scott Bader (hall 6, stand M27) will showcase its capabilities under a new ‘Making a Positive Difference’ corporate banner. Material solutions on offer include a range of high performance polyester, vinylester and acrylic thermoset resins with compatible glass, carbon and aramid fibre reinforcements, Crestomer and Crestabond structural adhesives for bonding metal, plastic and composite substrates, as well as Scott Bader’s new ‘zero styrene’ gelcoat developed by its R&D team. A new zero styrene gelcoat offers FRP moulders interested in the lowest shopfloor emissions possible, an even better alternative to Scott Bader’s existing Crystic Ecogel ultra-low styrene gelcoat range.

Also in hall 6, Granta Design (stand B46) will present its latest software technology, solutions for managing materials data, and support for the qualification and specification of composites. The Granta MI: Composites Package provides a solution for the composite data management challenges faced in high-performance engineering enterprises. This package supports rigorous, auditable composite qualification and equivalency processes – and integrated into the same system are leading reference data sources providing authoritative test and design data for composite materials.

Elsewhere, CGTech (hall 5A, stand P63) will exhibit version 8.0 of its Vericut software. Vericut CNC machine simulation, verification and optimisation software enables users to eliminate the process of manually proving-out NC programs. The software simulates all types of CNC machining, including drilling and trimming of composite parts, water jet, riveting, robotics, mill/turn and parallel kinematics. The program runs standalone, but can also be integrated with leading CAM systems. Visitors to CGTech’s stand will also receive an overview of the steps needed to get from a CAD designed composite part to CNC programs that drive an automated fibre placement (AFP) or automated tape laying (ATL) machine. There will be information on new projects that highlight the implementation and use of machine independent off-line NC programming software for AFP and ATL machines. CGTech will also demonstrate Vericut Composite Programming (VCP) and Vericut Composite Simulation (VCS).

In the same aisle, Penso (hall 5A, stand P5) will showcase its latest innovative technologies in the manufacture of lightweight composites by presenting both structural and non-structural components that are designed and manufactured using the following technologies: compression moulded sandwich panels, compression moulded monolithic panels, pressed bladder forming. It will also present its lightweighting technologies.

Moving on, machine builder, Roth Composite Machinery (hall 5A, stand M78) will showcase a new laboratory plant for prepreg applications. Roth prepreg production lines are used to manufacture semi-finished fibre composites, which can later be processed into finished products using pre-impregnated, partially cured thermoset matrix materials. Roth Composite Machinery has invested around €1 million in the new prepreg laboratory plant. In collaboration with Roth Composite Machinery, customers and raw material producers can experiment with new matrix systems, fibres and materials without interrupting their own production. A further focus is the manufacturer’s product range of machines for filament winding. Roth Composite Machinery plans, designs and manufactures aggregates, machines and entire production lines across the business areas of filament winding and prepregs, pleating and coating and brushes and brooms.

In the same hall, non-contact precision measurement specialist, Imetrum (hall 5A, stand A54) will highlight its new integrated material testing system, Universal Video Extensometer (UVX). Designed specifically for use in high-throughput routine testing laboratories, the UVX is claimed to change how standard material properties are measured. Imetrum says its video extensometers have always been a cost-effective alternative to strain gauging material test coupons, with ROI periods as low as two months.

SMRE Engineering (hall 5A, stand R77) builds cutting, welding and sewing and custom made machines, designed on customer specifications. Indeed, the company has manufactured many bespoke cutting machines tailored to the needs of some important customers for the industry, and has now launched a dedicated range of machines specifically conceived for cutting composite fabrics and composite materials in general. Two examples are its SM-381-TA Multiple Tool Cutting Plotter and SM-805-WJ Digital Cutting Station with waterjet technology. These machines offer a solution for cutting fabrics out of the roll at the beginning of the production process, as well as one for finishing the product after the cure.

Aro PR and Marketing (hall 5A, stand E78) is a specialist public relations and marketing agency for composites, advanced engineering and scientific companies. Recently celebrating five years in business, Aro says it knows what it takes to provide high quality, cost effective strategic PR and marketing support, helping clients achieve their sales objectives both in the UK and around the world. Aro has experience across the full marketing mix, including PR; social media management; marketing and brand management; media relations; public affairs/lobbying; copywriting; graphic design; web design & build and event management.

UK testing business, R-TECH Materials (hall 6, stand B75), will showcase its capabilities for composites. The company’s polymer and composites laboratories test the mechanical, thermal and chemical properties of non-metallic materials, components and products for manufacturers and end users. It recently invested heavily to expand its composites testing labs, which includes the first Zwick universal testing machine running on TestXpert III software in the UK. Operating across a wide range of materials and industries, R-TECH is accredited to perform testing in tension, compression, flexure, shear and hardness to ISO and ASTM standards under controlled temperature and humidity conditions.

MTorres (hall 5A, stand P41) will demonstrate its ATL and AFP machines. Its latest innovation is a new generation of a hybrid ATL/AFP solution for the Airbus A350 XWB wing shells fabrication. The new platform combines AFP end effectors containing 24 -1/2” width with ATL heads capable of being interchanged in less than two minutes. The AFP end effector has been designed to contain high weight spools, up to 9kg, reducing the need of end-effector changes. When the A350 programme was launched ATL technology was defined as baseline to manufacture the composite wings main components with MTorres as the primary ATL provider for that programme. Since the initial implementation at Airbus, the focus was then put on increasing productivity and reducing material waste, so when aircraft production ramped-up, new technologies were available in order to match the increasing demands with an optimum return on investment. The result is a next generation of Hybrid ATL/AFP solution for wing skins fabrication, which provide a significant boost in productivity and a step change improvement in material scrap savings.

Elsewhere, Sicomin (hall 6, stand G39) will launch its InfuGreen 810 resin system at JEC World. With several products from Sicomin’s GreenPoxy range already well established in the ski, snowboard and water sports markets, SR InfuGreen 810 targets those manufacturers producing parts using injection or infusion techniques. SR InfuGreen 810 is a clear resin with a very low viscosity at standard room temperature with approximately 38% carbon content derived from plant-based origins (ASTM D6866). The system has been formulated with a choice of two hardeners, SD4770 and SD4771, suitable for small to very large components including extremely thick laminates. Sicomin is undertaking DNV-GL certification for SR InfuGreen 810 and, as with all products in the GreenPoxy range, can guarantee reliable supplies of this new product in high volume industrial quantities.

In the adjoining hall, recycled material specialist, ELG Carbon Fibre (hall 5A, stand M30) will showcase its extensive range of Carbiso products designed to support lightweighting in high volume transportation applications. Carbiso M and TM isotropic mats offer excellent drapeability and performance whilst delivering cost-effective weight reduction and significant environmental benefits compared to virgin carbon fibre. The materials may be used on their own or with selective use of virgin carbon fibres to provide tailored structural properties. Carbiso M mats are suitable for closed mould processes and can also be used for the manufacture of intermediate products, such as prepregs and sheet moulding compounds. The thermoplastic Carbiso TM mats are designed for fast cycle times in press moulding applications.

In the same hall, SCIGRIP (hall 5A, stand C21) will be looking to build on this success and increase its profile within the European sector with a range of specialist products that offer strength, durability and flexible cure times for large and small marine applications. The company’s high performance formulations excel in the demanding and corrosive marine environment. Marine craft undertake intense structural loads and dynamic impacts during their lifetime so it’s critical that the adhesives selected are supremely reliable as well as strong. SCIGRIP will present its portfolio of Lloyds Registry and American Bureau of Shipping approved structural methacrylate adhesives at the show.

In the next aisle, Chem-Trend (hall 5A, stand D23) introduces a water-based, semi-permanent new release agent which has been specifically developed for the production of components for the aerospace industry. Zyvax TakeOff is particularly suited for the manufacture of extremely large epoxy components and therefore ideal for use in aircraft construction. Zyvax TakeOff allows composites to release quickly and flawlessly from moulds. It’s easily applied by wiping or spraying and reduces waste and scrap significantly. Additionally, there is very low transfer of the release agent to the moulded part. This can eliminate or significantly reduce any cleaning process that might be required prior to a post-moulding procedure, such as painting and gluing.

Nearby, North Thin Ply Technology (NTPT) (hall 5A, stand F5) will showcase its range of thin ply prepregs, processing technologies and products for performance sports. ThinPreg TP135 is a novel epoxy prepreg system delivering a set of composite properties, previously unavailable in ultra-low fibre weight prepreg materials (30gsm upwards). Developed in collaboration with the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, TP135 provides a powerful combination of market-leading compression after impact performance and exceptional strength properties. Also at the stand, NTPT’s new composite tube manufacturing process effects a fibre placement capability that has enabled the first major technological development in golf shaft manufacturing since the mass adoption of graphite golf shafts in the 1980s. The fully-automated tube winding process produces perfectly concentric carbon golf shafts. The overall potential of this technology for tubular structures in other markets is said to be massive.

Back in next hall, KraussMaffei Reaction Process Machinery (hall 6, stand B38) will highlight its new iPul pultrusion machine. An important component of the new machine is the metering technology which has been optimised especially for the pultrusion process. It injects the matrix material directly and continuously into the injection chamber. This means the matrix systems can work with a higher reactivity, which in turn can be specifically coordinated to the property patterns of the end product. Following the injection chamber the impregnated fibres are pulled through a heated stationary die. The component is cured in several individually selectable heating zones to achieve the desired hardened state. A profile pulling unit transports the pultruded profile continuously through the machine at constant speed before it can be cut and assembled. All machine components can be operated centrally via a control system. With the new iPul pultrusion machines both linear profiles with complex cross-sections, as well as 2D and 3D curved profiles, can be manufactured in the patented radius pultrusion process.

Techni-Modul Engineering (TME) (hall 6, stand F61) will unveil its robotised composite manufacturing technologies for woven materials. Its Robotised Preform Cell provides 3D stacking of the plies and a high-performance quality control system. TME has shown improvement of the cycle times, quality, repeatability, accuracy and work environment while reducing the final cost per part. Its significance includes a control system that eliminates all risk of possible defects. For instance, a camera controls the fibre orientation at any required time during the process. Mechanical devices check if good material roll is installed in the right place and in the right direction. Sensors also detect the end of the material on the roll for on time replacement. Furthermore, the specifically developed grippers will stack directly on a 3D shaped mould and fold the plies in curvature and angles. Another big advantage of this cell is the fact that the plies are less manipulated by a robot than by an operator. This leads to less damage, less pollution and less disorganisation of the fibres.

On the UK Pavilion, consultancy company PREA (hall 5A stand E78) will offer its expertise in the polymer-composite industry with offices worldwide, including recruitment, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures and collaborations, technology transfers, technical consultancy and manufacturing subcontracting work. During the exhibition, the company will offer free consultations for CV/ résumé checks, consultations to employers regarding candidates available for hiring and help with joint ventures and buying and selling companies.

ThermHex (hall 5A, stand P22) will present new product variations of its polypropylene (PP) honeycomb cores with a cell size of 5mm. In addition, it will showcase its continuous production process. ThermHex’s supplies PP honeycomb cores with a thickness of 10 to 12.7mm. The smaller 5mm cell size enables a perfect surface quality and allows new application possibilities for honeycomb cores. For example, the new product variations can be used as an alternative to foam cores or resign-impregnated nonwoven core mats. For the honeycomb cores with a thickness of 12mm and 12.7mm the new cell size also results in an optimised production process. With a newly developed vacuum forming roll, ThermHex increases resource and cost efficiency and achieves higher production capacity for both new product variations. ThermHex is currently working on the development of further PP honeycomb cores with a smaller cell size.

Technical Fibre Products (TFP) will launch some innovative new non-woven materials at the show in March. The first new development, on display at (hall 5A, stand N34) is a range of lightweight non-wovens with increased flexibility, smoothness and fibre volume. These new materials have been compressed to deliver a higher density, reduced thickness and smaller pore structure for a given areal weight. They have been designed to give improved conformability when working with complex mould shapes and, due to the thinner structure, simultaneously improve the volume fraction achievable. The veil is available in a broad range of fibre types and areal weights in order to ensure the necessary functionality, compatibility and performance are achieved. Other recent developments include a novel PTFE non-woven and an extended range of lightweight thermoplastic veils. The PTFE veil is a new release material and offers a combination of hydrophobic and non-stick properties. The latest addition to TFP’s range of thermoplastic veils, which are designed to increase composite toughness, is also a high-performance veil and is made entirely from polyimide (fibre and binder). This new veil provides the advantage of chemical resistance combined with high thermal stability.

PRF Composite Materials (hall 5A, stand P33) will showcase a number of new epoxy prepreg developments at this year’s show. Curing at temperatures between 65-120°C, PRF’s new RP442 is a low temperature epoxy prepreg system which boasts a long out life for this type of product: 30 days at 20°C. Initial customer trials have been very successful, with the system providing good results in surface finish. PRF has also developed a winter version of its popular mid-temperature component prepreg. RP542-3 retains similar properties to RP542-1, but has increased tack levels, making it ideal for use in colder workshops. Finally, PRF is also releasing its latest tooling system: RP803. Providing a mid-range solution between PRF’s RP801 Standard cure and RP802 Overnight cure, this new system has a cure time of 12 hours at 60°C or 6 hours at 70°C with a tack life of seven days at 20°C. Alongside its wider prepreg range, the PRF team will also discuss high performance reinforcements, epoxy resin systems, Qiicote mould release and kitting services.

Moving on, Eastman (hall 6, stand C62) will demonstrate its S125 automatic cutting table system specifically for cutting unidirectional and quadriaxial e-glass, its Lantor Soric brand core print blocker and other composites. The cutting system meets tolerance and repeatability specifications for the most stringent military and aerospace projects for flexible core materials, uni-, bi, and multi-directional glass, carbon and aramids and materials pre-impregnated with epoxy resin. Visitors can learn how replacing the tedium of cutting with scissors or other manual knives with digital technology improves cutting intricate markers, one-of-a-kind patterns, samples or full production runs. In addition, its Eastman JetPRO continuous inkjet printer is an optional addition to the conveyor and static table cutting systems. Housed in an IP65 stainless steel cabinet, the inkjet interface is available in several languages and capable of printing characters, Linear and DataMatrix bar codes plus custom logos/graphics.

Sigmatex (hall 6, stand G5) says it reveal one of Reebok CCM Hockey’s new 2017 sticks – SuperTacks 2.0. The stick utilises sigmaST – Sigmatex’s Spread Tow carbon fibre and is designed to achieve maximum performance through lightweight, precision and strength. Outperforming its predecessor, the stick takes full advantage of sigmaST’s performance properties. Providing near zero crimp, sigmaST allows for a thinner laminate than traditional 2D textiles whilst achieving the same strength. Behind the look of the elite checkerboard finish, sigmaST provides improved coverage making for a stronger stick capable of delivering a harder hit.

Meanwhile, Metyx Composites (hall 6, stand J6) will showcase its latest high performance e-glass, aramid and carbon fibre technical textile products in its range of RTM, multiaxial and woven fabrics, as well as promoting the expanded production capacity and kitting service for fabrics, cores and vacuum consumables now available from its factory in Hungary. METYCORE FS (Fire Shield) and METYCOREMAX FS (Fire Shield), will be shown, following successful trials with selected customers; both fire retardant, RTM reinforcement fabric grades are compatible with polyester, vinyl ester and epoxy resins. METYCORE FS and METYCOREMAX FS are halogen-free, sandwich design, stitched glass fabrics with a fire-retardant core. These additions to the METYCORE range of RTM reinforcements have been developed in-house by Metyx Composites’ R&D team to meet the EN 45 545 fire standard, now the European ‘cross border’ rail industry standard for composites used in rolling stock. Independent testing is in progress, covering all the stringent FST aspects of the EN 45 545 fire safety regulation. Another new product being promoted is its new range of ‘webbed’ carbon fibre woven fabrics, which has a fine layer of thermoplastic coating, resembling a spider’s web, covering the fabric surface.

Ceramicx (hall 6, stand C78) will show its advances in bespoke infrared ovens and heatwork for composites processing, and partly to preview the launch of the Ceramicx Vector drape forming machine, designed to heat and cure carbon composite material whether its prepreg or dry fibre. The new Ceramicx Vector can be customised to meet customer size requirements with no minimum or maximum dimensions for parts. The heaters are individually powered and controlled in zones by a Siemens HCS system in conjunction with calibrated optical temperature measurement. The feedback loop ensures that the part does not exceed the upper most cure temperature and that the temperature gradient through the part’s thickness is as minimal as possible. The Vector drape forming machine has no complex drive shaft systems, gear boxes or external motors. This reduces the vibrations on the heaters and the required maintenance on these parts. Moreover, floor space can be reduced as access is virtually all from beneath the superstructure.

Finally, 3A Composites AirexBaltekBanova (hall 6, stand G27) will showcase its new products AIREX T10.60 and BALTEK VBC QX, based on PET foam and balsa composite materials. AIREX T10.60 is a very low-density foam core that excels with its homogeneous cell structure and its highly-oriented properties. The cells are oriented to maximise the vertical compression properties that are important in sandwich application. Furthermore, the shear properties in the sheets’ length direction by far exceed the values of all comparable products. BALTEK VBC is a structural core material based on balsa wood veneer from 100% FSC certified plantations (FSC-C100270). The proprietary QX technology was developed to tailor mechanical properties of balsa cores suitable for composite applications.

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