Composites Manufacturing Magazine

Composites Manufacturing Magazine
January/February 2015
The Official Magazine of the American Composites Manufacturers Association
Why All the Hype Over
A Look at the
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Visit the All-New
January/February 2015
The Official Magazine of the American Composites Manufacturers Association
Market Segments
Architecture .......................................8
FRP Infoshop
Construction ....................................10
Green Roof
Fuel-efficient Trucks ........................... 12
& Columns
From the ACMA Chair ..................... 2
Best Practices ......................................4
Legislative & Regulatory ...............28
Inside ACMA ...................................29
Ad Index ...........................................31
Postcure Chatter .............................. 32
About the Cover:
Photo courtesy of Mar-Bal Inc.
Giving the People What They Want ........................ 14
From home appliances to personal electronic devices, more consumer
products are utilizing composites for lightweighting and durability.
Companies that have carved out a space in this niche share advice on
breaking into the market.
By Susan Keen Flynn
State of the Industry: What Will Drive
Composites Growth in 2015? ................................. 18
The market for composite products hit $21.2 billion in 2014. Our annual
State of the Industry report delves into last year’s success and the future
of composites, examining key economic indicators and market dynamics.
By Dr. Sanjay Mazumdar
Layer by Layer ........................................................ 24
3-D printing has gained attention as the latest rave in manufacturing.
But is it really a viable process for composites manufacturing? Some
industry companies are counting it.
By Mary Beck
From the ACMA Chair
Volume 31 | Number 1 | January/February 2015
What’s in Store for 2015?
elcome to 2015! I think this will be a great year for
composites. In this edition of Composites Manufacturing
magazine, we will see what Lucintel – one of ACMA’s affinity
partners – has to say about the state of the industry. I know that
they have done a great deal of work to bring us their report on
page 18. I am sure that it will provide a lot of valuable insight.
As for my view of the industry, I think it is very bright. ACMA
has been working hard to help develop new markets and build
relationships. The effort has been intense, and the outcomes should be very beneficial to
all of our members. We have begun a real deep dive into the government procurement
arena. This effort involves ACMA staff and volunteers and is pointed at recent initiatives
from technology, manufacturing, education and development agencies within the federal
government. ACMA needs to be at the forefront of these efforts because as a group
we can push our ideas further than we can individually. If you are not involved in a
Composites Growth Initiative (CGI) committee, then you should consider joining one.
Participation puts you at the front line of the conversation, helping shape the future of
our industry.
The board of directors has undertaken a renewal of our Strategic Plan, which outlines
a three-year blueprint for the association. The Strategic Planning Committee meets in
conjunction with board meetings, but also conducts an extra meeting once a year to
focus on the plan. We are currently discussing three of the basic missions of ACMA:
composites growth, regulatory affairs and education. The board of directors will have a
final plan for formal approval at our May meeting. I will have a more detailed review of
the plan after it is approved.
My last point may seem to rehash old news, but it’s worth a revisit. CAMX – The
Composites and Advanced Materials Exposition, was a huge success for ACMA, SAMPE
and our whole industry. Countless hours went into planning and executing this new
show. Now the challenge is to keep the momentum going and produce an even better
show in Dallas in October. I assure you that the same folks who did such a great job
in 2014 are hard at work, trying to out-do themselves for 2015. But they cannot do
it alone: It is up to all of us to participate. You can do it by exhibiting, writing and
presenting a paper, or simply attending the show in Dallas. Thanks in advance to those
who participate. And thanks for your continued membership support.
Jay Merrell
ACMA Chairman of the Board
[email protected]
Official Magazine of the
American Composites Manufacturers Association
Tom Dobbins
[email protected]
Director of Marketing & Communications
Anna Hughes
[email protected]
Managing Editor
Susan Keen Flynn
[email protected]
Communications Coordinator
Mary Beck
[email protected]
Advertising Sales
The YGS Group
[email protected]
Editorial Design & Production
Keane Design, Inc.
[email protected]
All reprint requests should be directed to
The YGS Group at 717-399-1900.
American Composites Manufacturers Association
3033 Wilson Blvd., Suite 420
Arlington, Va 22201
Phone: 703-525-0511
Fax: 703-525-0743
Email: [email protected]
Composites Manufacturing (ISSN 1084-841X) is
published bi-monthly by the American Composites
Manufacturers Association (ACMA), 3033 Wilson Blvd.,
Suite 420, Arlington, VA 22201 USA. Subscription rates:
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POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Composites
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Box 54, Windsor, ON N9A 6J5, Email: [email protected] Copyright© 2015 by ACMA. All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reprinted without permission from the publisher. ACMA, a nonprofit organization
representing the composites industry worldwide, publishes
Composites Manufacturing, circulation 9,000, as a service to
its members and other subscribers. The reader should note
that opinions or statements of authors and advertisers appearing in Composites Manufacturing are their own and do not
necessarily represent the opinions or statements of ACMA, its
Board of Directors or ACMA staff.
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Best Practices
Mixing Organic Peroxides into
Composite Materials
New This Issue: Composites
Manufacturing debuts a new “Best
Practices” column in 2015. Each issue,
an industry expert will serve as guest
columnist, presenting manufacturing
techniques and methods you can apply to
help achieve optimal results.
he mixing of organic peroxides (OPs)
into unsaturated polyester resin
(UPR) can make a critical difference
between a good part and an increasing
scrap rate. The key is in the order of
mixing and reducing the possibility of
reacting the OP before it gets into the
UPR. As a rule of thumb, it’s best to add
the OP last and mix it thoroughly. If only
it were this simple.
Organic peroxides are added to UPRs
with the intent of co-polymerizing the
UPR with the reactive diluent (i.e. styrene)
to make the UPR a liquid solution at
ambient temperature. It is important to
know that all OPs can be reacted in and out
of a composite resin, and there are safety
and health risks to using OP before and
during a mixing operation.
There are two conditions for the use
of OP in UPR – ambient and elevated
temperatures. At the molecular level,
at ambient cure temperatures the most
common UPR contains a reactive metal
complex, typically a cobalt-based system.
The metal causes the decomposition of the
organic peroxide to a free radical.
R-OOH + Co g RO• + OH- + Co
The free radical of the peroxide,
represented as RO•, is highly energetic
and attacks sites in the UPR that are rich
with electrons, the double bonds. In one
scenario, the free radical can attach to one
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end of the double bond and create another
free radical on the other end capable of
continuing in a chain reaction to form the
finished polymer.
RO• + R’ – CH = CH – R” g
R’– CH – CH – R”
At elevated temperatures, different types
of OPs that react due to heating are used.
The end result is the same: Free radicals
create the conditions for polymerization.
R-OO-R’ g RO• + R’O•
The key to the manufacture of a
thermoset composite is then having a
good mix, which places the decomposing
organic peroxide near the double bonds of
the reactive monomer and UPR to have
an efficient polymerization.
Safe mixing can be demonstrated using
the example of an auto-cast application.
The prepromoted UPR (containing
materials ready to produce decomposition)
is first mixed with reinforcements through
the action of an auger or a static mixer
to reach a level of thoroughly wet out
reinforcement. This UPR matrix then
continues to where the OP is introduced
and also thoroughly augered in. The
OP is but a small percentage of the final
product (1 to 2.5 percent), and therefore
this mixing step is critical to give the end
composite the best physical properties.
The same order and attention to mixing
seen in this “closed” system should be
followed in an open-air process. The
closed system is very safe, but in open
application of peroxide there must be
other precautions taken.
With open systems like spray-up
laminating, the mixing of organic
peroxide with a resin could happen with
impingement of the peroxide into a
stream of resin. If the stream of peroxide
is not set correctly, it may not thoroughly
mix into the stream of resin and cause
hot spots on the part as well as expose
workers to overspray containing raw
peroxide. This is especially critical if the
liquid OP is used in a heavily filled or
highly viscous UPR.
In batch mixing of UPR with OP, as is
done in pultrusion and cured-in-place
pipe (CIPP), the most reactive organic
peroxides used have decomposition
temperatures near or below that of
ambient/room temperature. Quick and
thorough incorporation of the organic
peroxide into the UPR requires a mixing
vortex to stop the possibility of having a
decomposing liquid sit on the surface of a
resin batch. The decomposition products
of organic peroxides can be flammable
and, in the presence of a source of
ignition, can have major consequences.
The use of some OPs that are solids at
room temperature requires a special step
of dissolving the OP before addition to
the UPR. There are two major products
used in pultrusion and CIPP that fit
this category. During the dissolving
process, the reaction of the OP begins
immediately. The peroxide, di-(4tertbutylcyclohexyl) peroxydicarbonate
(commonly known as Perkadox 16)
reacts in styrene at 32 F (0 C). At 68 F
(20 C) the reaction is faster and the styrene
starts to rapidly turn into polystyrene as
the mixture is held at this temperature. If
allowed to sit for over an hour, there may
be full polymerization resulting in a great
amount of heat and smoke generation.
The final note in finding the best mixing
techniques is simply this: Ask if you are
unsure of what is a good practice. Consult
the material safety data sheets, and look for
support from suppliers to achieve the best
The guest columnist for this issue’s “Best
Practices” column is Anthony Bennett,
technical development manager of thermoset
products for AkzoNobel Polymer Chemicals,
Organic Peroxides sBU. Email comments to
[email protected]
Made from
ravelers arriving and departing from
the new bus transit center at Union
Station in Washington, D.C., have no
trouble locating the small information
and shopping pavilion built to serve
them. With its bright yellow walls,
curving silver roof and double-ovoid
shape, the FRP building, constructed
by Compmillennia LLC of Washington,
N.C., stands out from the surrounding
concrete structures.
The District of Columbia decided in
2012 to consolidate the regional bus stops
scattered throughout the city at the Beaux
Arts-style Union Station. The space chosen
for the bus transit center was a concrete slab
that served as the parking lot entrance and
walkway between the station and H Street.
Studio Twenty Seven Architecture was
Photo Credits: Anice Hoachlander, Hoachlander/Davis Photography
The 475-square-foot pavilion at
Washington, D.C.’s Union Station bus
terminal provides amenities such as
ticketing and shopping so travelers don’t
have to leave the bus deck.
tasked with transforming the space under a
fast-track project with a modest budget and
an eight-month schedule.
The firm based its design upon the
metaphor of a Zen rock garden. The
information and shopping pavilion – or
infoshop – is reminiscent of rocks in
a field. A wood and glass enclosure,
suggesting a meditation porch, serves as
a waiting area. There is also a restroom
pavilion made with a recycled shipping
container armature.
Photo Credit: Compmillennia
The ovoid shape of the infoshop was
the project’s biggest challenge. “We were
exploring how we could achieve that
form, and we approached it a couple of
different ways,” says Todd Ray, FAIA,
principal with Studio Twenty Seven
Architecture. Using steel and CNC
bending technologies was too expensive,
and the structure would be too heavy
for the slab. The second alternative –
millwork interlocking skeletal frames to
achieve curved surfaces – required too
many trades working at one time on the
475-square-foot building.
The project contractor, Monarch
Construction, suggested molded
FRP for the structure, which is only
partially covered by the space’s existing
glass canopy. After investigating that
approach, Studio Twenty Seven selected
Compmillennia for the project. The
composites manufacturer and boat
builder had never worked on a building
before, but did have years of expertise in
constructing curved shapes.
“We used boat construction methods
to build this architectural project,” says
Jim Gardiner, Compmillennia’s general
manager. It was a learning process for both
companies as the design kept changing
even as fabrication plans progressed.
The yellow wall panels of the infoshop
feature a textured surface of dots and
dashes, Morse code for song lyrics by
Death Cab for Cutie: “Cause in my head
there’s a Greyhound station/ Where I send
my thoughts to far off destinations/ So
they may have a chance of finding a place/
Where they’re far more suited than here.”
A local artisan routed the dots and dashes
into medium density fiberboard (MDF)
to form the wall pattern. Working under
a limited production schedule – only 32
days – Compmillennia moved quickly
from the patterned MDF to a production
mold. Six routed panels, each 4 x 10
feet, were assembled and put together on
Compmillennia’s 20 x 80-foot flat vacuum
mold with an epoxy finish which featured
integral heating up to 165 F.
To prepare for the gel coat,
Compmillennia used a shrink wrap
normally used to cover boats in transit.
“We pulled a vacuum under the plastic
and sucked it down into the little dots
and dashes,” says Gardiner. Next came
the bright yellow gel coat, followed by a
filled polyester resin coat with low shrink
Workers at Compmillennia apply a coat of polyester resin with fillers to FRP wall panels.
properties, which filled the thousands of
dots and dashes. Next came a 1.5-ounce
fiberglass skin coat. “Then we laminated
the structural fiberglass, which included
a chopped strand mat, a biaxial fiberglass
and a 1¼-inch thick foam PVC core,”
says Gardiner. “After that we applied
another structural fiberglass laminate to
complete the panel.” Crews reinforced
the areas around door frames and along
the bottom where the panel rested on
its foundation with additional layers of
biaxial fiberglass.
Gardiner compares the 47 silver panels
that form the roof to the segments of a
globe that can be spread flat but make a
curved shape when assembled. To form
them, Compmillennia built two 48-inch
x 28-foot camber molds. Using a lofting
process, workers cut out full-sized panel
sections from heavy floor paper, then laid
out the edges of each panel following the
dimensions of the patterns.
The roof panels were manufactured
using a clear gel coat, metallic silver gel
coat, 1½-ounce chopped strand mat and
two layers of 32-ounce, 0°/90° stitched
biaxial fiberglass. Each section took a day to
complete, although several smaller sections
could be molded at the same time.
Compmillennia also fabricated the
individual supporting FRP ribs for the
structure. As panels were completed,
Gardiner’s crews began constructing the
sections on a box steel ladder frame. They
used fiberglass laminate clips to mate
the end walls to the frames and to attach
the curved silver roof panels. The two
completed sections were fitted but not
bonded together before being transported
on trailers to the Union Station site.
Crews had a four- to six-hour window
in the middle of the night to unload the
two building sections and move them
via rollers to their permanent location.
Compmillennia employees came the next
day to complete the assembly and join the
two sections into one.
“I think the infoshop pavilion came
out really well,” says Ray. “We had a very
limited work area because the terminal and
the walk areas could never be closed, so the
notion of pre-fabrication was critical.” He
says his firm would use composites again if
the right project came along.
Gardiner believes that composites will
be used for more building projects in the
future: “The full scope of what you can do
with it is limitless. It has great potential.”
Mary Lou Jay is a freelancer writer based
in Timonium, Md. Email comments to
[email protected]
For more stories like this, visit and
check out the Architecture articles under
the “Market Segments” tab.
Help a Green
Roof Grow
reenery and gardens aren’t just
found on the ground. Green roofs,
which partially or completely cover a
building with vegetation planted over
a waterproofing membrane, exist all
over the world, from the tops of small
houses on remote islands to congested
city skyscrapers. These roofs offer many
benefits, especially for urban buildings
such as the Gordon Persons Building in
Montgomery, Ala.
As part of a renovation in early 2014, a
green roof was installed on the Gordon
Persons Building, which houses Alabama’s
Department of Revenue. The underlying
structure of most green roofs is often built
with steel parts. But contractor J.J. Morley
Enterprises Inc. opted to use composite
beams and grating from Strongwell to
complete the project.
Green roofs help to mitigate warm
temperatures in cities because they absorb
carbon dioxide and decrease the amount
of dark rooftop space that would absorb
heat. The roofs also reduce heating and
cooling loads on a building by 50 to
90 percent by adding mass and thermal
resistance and through evaporative
cooling, respectively. In addition,
green roofs absorb rainwater, reducing
stormwater runoff by up to 75 percent.
The Gordon Persons Building’s roof
features 26 separate planters, each in
varying geometric shapes spread across six
rooftop courtyards. A mix of perennial
plants suited to Alabama’s climate were
pre-grown in vegetation trays with a
drainage layer made from 100 percent
Photo Credit: The Morley Companies
Strongwell received an ACE Award nomination in the Innovation in Green Composites
Design category at CAMX 2014 for the green roof structures it supplied for the Gordon
Persons Building in Montgomery, Ala.
recycled high-density polyethylene and
bio-degradable walls made of recycled paper
products with 20 percent wax content. The
vegetation trays were then placed on FRP
beams and grating, which were inserted
inside reinforced concrete planters on the
courtyard floor.
Green roofs are typically assembled with
stainless steel fasteners, nuts, bolts and
washers without any welding, says Cliff
Wyatt, Strongwell’s regional sales manager
for the southeast United States. Steel had
originally been specified for this job, but J.J.
Morley decided that using a noncorrosive,
lightweight material would be a better
choice. Wyatt notes that several green roofs
made with steel parts have rusted through
within five years of their completion. “You’ve
got all your dirt, plants, fertilizers and the
water in there every day, and that’s just not
conducive to steel,” he says.
Strongwell’s FRP materials offer stronger
The Gordon Persons Building’s roof is classified as an extensive green roof,
meaning it supports 10 to 25 pounds of vegetation per square foot and
was designed to be virtually self-sustaining.
and allows for
simple landscape
maintenance and
replacement as
needed,” says
Mark Kelley,
vice president of
operations at J.J.
Wyatt says it
only took about
two weeks to get
all of the beams
and gratings laid
down during
the 14-month
Fiberglass beams are bolted to the planter area, then molded
total renovation
grating is laid on top to make a false bottom. Unlike steel green
project. “The parts roofs, composite green roofs won’t corrode from constant contact
with fertilizer and water.
are all cut to size
and all the holes
are pre-drilled, so all [the installers] have
their way into more architectural projects.
to do is lay it out, bolt it together and
“I think [green roofs are] a growing market
lay the gratings on top,” he says. Kelley
with a lot of potential,” Wyatt says.
added that the J. J. Morley team was
“very satisfied” with the ease of use and
Mary Beck is the communications
outcome of the composite materials.
coordinator at ACMA. Email comments
Composites are slowly but surely finding
to [email protected]
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Photo Credit: The Morley Companies
resistance against the elements than steel.
Additionally, the composite materials are less
than half the weight of steel, making it easier
to install and move the gardens, if needed,
for maintenance. Finally, the FRP structures
offer life cycle and maintenance advantages.
“A question we get a lot is, ‘How long does
this material last?’” says Wyatt. “In this case,
would 100 years be out of the realm of
possibility? Probably not.”
The Gordon Persons Building’s
roof is classified as an extensive green
roof, meaning it supports 10 to 25
pounds of vegetation per square foot
and was designed to be virtually selfsustaining. The large built-in planters
are waterproofed with a hot rubberized
asphalt system. The Strongwell
EXTREN® beams, a pultruded
fiberglass-reinforced beam with a
thermosetting polyester resin system,
and 1 x 1 x 4-inch DURAGRATE®
pultruded fiberglass molded gratings
create a false bottom so the vegetation
trays can be placed throughout the
planters. “This reduces the weight
in the planters, allows easy access for
future planter waterproofing or drain
A Green Truck Debuts
almart wanted a greener truck. So,
the multinational retailer teamed
up with other companies to produce a
concept vehicle and unveiled the resulting
futuristic-looking tractor-trailer in 2014.
It is the latest example of Walmart’s efforts
to increase fleet fuel efficiency, something
the company has boosted by 84 percent
since 2005 on the way to its stated goal of
doubling fuel efficiency by 2015.
Part of the advanced technology in
the concept vehicle can be found in the
trailer. Normally, these are constructed
of aluminum, steel or plywood core
fiberglass panels. Such trailers tip the
scales at about 12,000 pounds, but the
new trailer isn’t typical.
“The concept trailer panels were built
almost exclusively with foam cores and
carbon fiber,” says Wayne Durnin, vice
president of sales and marketing at FiberTech Industries. The Spokane, Ohio-based
company supplied CFRP panels to trailer
maker Great Dane of Savannah, Ga.
Durnin adds, “The one-piece fiberglass
reinforced floor panel had been tested
and approved with a 16,000-pound
forklift rating. In combination with
the one-piece CFRP sidewalls and roof
panels, the new design saved almost
4,000 pounds compared to previous
construction materials.”
Cutting the weight by a third had to
be done without sacrificing the trailer’s
weight-bearing capacity or interior
volume. Those two parameters determine
how much cargo can be carried in
the trailer, which is constrained by
government regulations to be a certain
width, length, height and total weight
when fully loaded.
For the concept trailer, there were other
requirements as well. Importantly, the
specifications for interior trailer volume
dictated the walls be as thin as possible.
Given the needed panel performance and
requirement for cutting weight, FiberTech engineers decided early on in the
Walmart’s truck fleet includes 6,500 tractors, 55,000 trailers and more than 7,000
drivers. It remains to be seen whether this green concept vehicle, made from CFRP,
will become the norm for the multinational retailer: The technologies employed are in
different stages of market acceptance and regulatory approval.
3½-year project that the only solution was
a ribbed foam core with carbon fiber. The
strength of the resulting panels was such
that the walls of the trailer were about half
as thick as what they would have been
with a traditional wood core and fiberglass
approach, Durnin says.
Fiber-Tech has years of experience
supplying panel materials to trailer
manufacturers. The challenge was to
come up with a manufacturing process
that created full height (9 feet) and full
length (53 feet) carbon fiber panels in a
single step. The company’s engineering
expertise and experience with similarly
sized traditional fiberglass-wood core panels
were vital in successfully devising an answer
to that problem. The solution involved a
combination of woven and stitched carbon
fiber that laminated the foam core, which
was about a half inch thick.
In addition to carbon fiber in the
trailer, the truck also implemented a
number of other advanced technologies.
For instance, the tractor and the front
of the trailer are shaped such that
aerodynamic drag is cut by 20 percent,
which leads to a 10 percent boost in fuel
economy. The tractor engine is a hybrid,
running either off of electric power,
energy derived from a microturbine or a
combination of both. The microturbine
can run on natural gas or other fuels,
burning these so cleanly that there’s
no need for the exhaust treatment
equipment found in conventional diesel
engines. The concept engine also does
not require heavy lubricants.
In evaluating the concept vehicle, it’s
important to remember that increasing
fuel efficiency is not simply a matter of
getting more miles per gallon. The goal,
instead, is to get goods where they need
to go as efficiently as possible. Thus,
taking weight out of the trailer allows
more cargo to be carried. Doing so does
not necessarily increase the vehicle’s
miles-per-gallon, as the total weight
moving down the road remains the same.
However, swapping trailer weight for
cargo does make transport of goods more
This tradeoff illustrates the three
efficiency goals that pertain to the
trailer. “We want to fill it to capacity
wherever possible. We want to drive the
fewest miles and do that on the most
efficient equipment,” says Elizabeth
Fretheim, Walmart’s director of logistics
sustainability. Walmart has a fleet of
about 6,000 trucks, or tractor-trailer
combinations, in the U.S. that log
millions of miles annually delivering
products. Hence, the potential impact of
the concept vehicle is huge.
The key word is potential. Fretheim says
the project’s various technologies are in
different stages of market acceptance and
regulatory approval. She expects them to
eventually be implemented, although there
may never be a commercially available
product that includes all of the advanced
features found in the concept truck.
However, she says that part of the goal
was to generate interest and buzz about
what could be done. In that, the project
succeeded, Fretheim says.
With regard to the carbon fiber
composite technology, the concept trailer
has shown what is possible. There has
been some interest and new opportunities
that have opened up as a result, according
to Durnin. However, carbon fiber is more
expensive than materials currently used
in trailers. So, widespread commercial
adoption will likely lag until the price
comes down relative to the cost of
That may happen, thanks in part, to
other transportation segments. Cars
face their own requirements to improve
fuel efficiency, so high-end car makers
are turning to carbon fiber to get the
weight out and the miles-per-gallon up.
Consequently, the demand for carbon
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fiber is growing, which is helping to boost
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up material usage.
As Durnin says, “As more and more
products use carbon fiber, we suspect that
the price of carbon fiber is going to be
reduced to make it more competitive in
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Hank Hogan is a freelance writer based in
Albuquerque, N.M. Email comments to
[email protected]
One of Mar-Bal’s machine operators,
Prakash Rasaily, readies an
oven handle for assembly.
Giving the People
What They
If you make consumer electronics and household appliances,
function isn’t enough:
Aesthetics are a top priority, too.
By Susan Keen Flynn
hen a leading home appliance manufacturer
Surface Generation Ltd., a technology start-up based in the
recently tested shelves for a new line of
United Kingdom, has been investing in the consumer electronics
refrigerators, the company ran into a glitch:
market for the past three years. Rather than commit to one
The die-cast metal frames for the glass shelves
solution, the company designs and manufactures equipment to
were susceptible to corrosion. So Mar-Bal Inc., a compounder
make products using composites, advanced plastics, metals and
and molder of thermoset composite products based in Chagrin
glass. CEO Ben Halford believes high-performance composites
Falls, Ohio, worked with the appliance manufacturer to design
ultimately will win the lion’s share of business in consumer
and test an alternative. Mar-Bal supplied more than one
electronics. “That’s not to say it’s a done deal. There’s a fairly
million shelf frames made from THERMITAL™, a thermoset
big scrap going on in the marketplace,” says Halford, whose
composite with a physical vapor deposition (PVD) finish that
company also works in the automotive and aerospace areas.
resembles metal.
“The metallic guys aren’t going to take this lying down: They
“Our solution won
don’t want their lunch
out because inside
to be eaten. But I
refrigerators there’s
think it’s inevitable
condensation, and with
that continuous fiber
condensation comes the
reinforced [products]
potential for corrosion
will be there in large
and rust,” says Ron
part within the next
Poff, manager of global
two years.”
marketing and brands
for Mar-Bal. “Thermoset
Passing the
composites gave the
‘Oomph’ Test
customer the look and
The main reason
feel of die cast, but with
that consumer product
the added benefit of
manufacturers are
It’s a challenge in the appliance market to balance functional requirements, such
corrosion resistance.”
turning to composites
as thermal stability and heat resistance, with aesthetic demands. “The parts
Mar-Bal provides
is for durability and
have to look good – and stay looking good – and they’ve got to resist hundreds
thermoset composite
lightweighting, says
of thousands of interactions with the owner,” says Marc Imbrogno, director of
components for several materials engineering for Mar-Bal Inc. “Dozens of times a day these knobs are
Mathur. But they’re
touched and turned.”
consumer appliance
also looking for the
brands, including Whirlpool, Maytag, KitchenAid, GE and
“oomph” factor, he adds. People want appliances and electronic
Electrolux. “You can find a Mar-Bal manufactured component in devices that feel good to the touch and look stylish.
anything in the kitchen or laundry room of a home,” says Marc
“When we touch something there is an immediate response,”
Imbrogno, director of materials engineering for Mar-Bal. The
says Poff. “When you’re making a product for a brand like GE
company makes components that consumers see and touch every or Electrolux, that first out-of-the-box experience is critical to
day, such as appliance handles, knobs, control panels, consoles
brand identity.” Mar-Bal teamed with GE’s appliance division
and vent trim.
last year to create a new, ergonomic design for oven handles.
Composites make sense for household appliances for obvious
(In September, GE sold its appliance division to Electrolux, also
reasons: They offer durability, low thermal conductivity and
a Mar-Bal customer.) A repeated refrain from the client – and
corrosion and chemical resistance. But appliances are just
common throughout the household appliance market – was
one area within the larger consumer products market where
the importance of haptics, or tactile sensations. “The density of
composites are gaining traction. Consumer products encompass
thermoset composites – the heaviness of it – was critical,” says
anything that people buy for personal or household use, from
Poff. “You can get that from metals, too, but the problem with
necessities such as clothing to luxury items like boats and sports
die cast on an oven is the transferability of heat. When I touch
equipment. In addition to household appliances, composites are
the handle, I’m going to get burned.”
poised to take off in the consumer electronics marketplace, where
Touch is equally important in the consumer electronics market,
early adopters are testing and beginning to introduce handheld
where PlastiComp is in preliminary discussions with companies
devices, mobile phones, laptop computers and tablets comprising seeking to replace metal components on computers and
composite materials.
televisions. “The primary reason is lightweighting, but the second
“Whether its household appliances or personal, digital
reason is tactile sensation,” says Mathur. “These composites feel
gizmos, you’ll notice a move from metals to composites,” says
good to the touch, especially if they have an over layer of a softRaj Mathur, Ph.D., vice president of technology and business
touch plastic. And when you move into consumer luxury goods,
development for PlastiComp, a supplier of long-fiber reinforced
the buzz is on the aerospace carbon fiber look.”
thermoplastics (LFT) based in Winona, Minn. “One reason for
When shopping for household appliances, consumers add
this is based on life cycle analysis. You can’t churn out consumer
a third criteria to the list – sound. “Noise is a very important
products in such large numbers in this globalized economy and
aspect,” says Poff. “You want to reduce the decibel level of that
use up all the resources involved in metals and metallic alloys,
appliance, and the acoustic value of reducing the overall noise is
many of which are becoming rare.”
there with thermoset composites.”
“The consumer electronics world will redefine
your understanding of scale and speed.”
Mar-Bal investigated the acoustic
performance of composites for one of
its customers, the blender manufacturer
Vitamix. Mar-Bal performed acoustic
chamber testing, comparing thermosets
to acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS)
thermoplastics. The company presented
its findings in a white paper that identified
the sources of blender noise and discussed
how bulk molding compound could
help lower contributing frequencies and
blender noise levels. “We won business
by showcasing the difference between
materials,” says Poff. “For any countertop
blender, a six or seven decibel difference is
The mobile phone bracket developed
“Most people concentrate on one or the
other,” says Mathur. “But it’s essential to
integrate all three.”
PlastiComp transferred the technologies
and tools to the consumer electronics
company, which can now produce millions
of brackets via injection molding. “We
demonstrated that you can satisfy seemingly
opposing needs by combining mechanical
and electrical properties,” says Mathur.
“That’s something the wider industry
should keep in mind.”
Selling Ideas, Building Partnerships
It’s important to note that while
PlastiComp is primarily a materials
by PlastiComp features carbon-fiber
supplier, it did not provide any of its LFT
reinforced thermoplastics loaded with
Meeting Many Needs
composite compounds to the consumer
varying levels of carbon nanotube
PlastiComp wrapped up a development
electronics manufacturer. “We were paid
additives to boost mechanical and
project with a consumer electronics
simply to do development work,” says Eric
electrical properties.
company that highlights the complex
Wollan, business development manager for
requirements of some applications. PlastiComp created
PlastiComp. “We told them how to produce the brackets, and
technologies and tools so the company could replace die-cast
they took that knowledge back internally.” And that’s OK with
magnesium in mobile phone brackets with LFT composites.
PlastiComp and other companies trying to help composites gain
“This was more than just metal substitution for added stiffness
a foothold in the market.
and strength,” says Mathur. “There was an emphasis not only on
“Right now, the composites industry – the materials suppliers,
mechanical properties, but the bracket also had to have certain
processing companies and equipment manufacturers – are going
electrical characteristics.”
through the very painful education phase for the early adopters,”
says Halford. Surface Generation is working hand-in-hand with
The bracket’s extensive list of requirements included the
customers on a few projects, including laptop computers and
tablets. Though the company is tight-lipped about the details,
• Stiffness equivalent to magnesium
Halford shared some of the big-picture challenges.
• Weight lighter than magnesium
Most laptop computers, for example, are made of four exterior
• Extremely thin profiles – less than one millimeter thick
panels – one on top displaying the company logo, one around the
• A complex shape
screen, one around the keyboard and one at the base. “We’re now
• Electrical properties, including electromagnetic (EMI)
seeing some fairly serious attempts from the main players to shift
shielding and antenna reception
to a structural enclosure,” says Halford. “But what we haven’t
seen yet is a full composite design. The pain associated with that
“That’s a challenging role for any composite to fulfill,” admits
is incredible because the volumes are huge and the yields the
Mathur. He says that long-fiber reinforced thermoplastics
companies demand are astronomical. Even a very small amount
form a skeletal network that increases the structure of the part,
of scrap is hideous when you’re making 200,000 of something
giving it the requisite stiffness. PlastiComp utilized carbon fiber per month.”
because it’s electrically conductive, which in turn meets the
Tablet production faces a similar challenge, trying to “make
need for EMI shielding. The company hit targets for surface
a hollowed out pumpkin, then stuff it with electronics,” says
resistivity through the use of specific additives and nanofillers it Halford. Composites can offer the solution, integrating the
declined to disclose.
electronics into the structure. “The big value added with
PlastiComp conducted structural analysis and mold flow
composites is not necessarily the material itself; it’s what you can
analysis, tweaking the design as needed. It took into account
do in one hit,” says Halford. “Can you take a 50-step process
numerous considerations: What is the best gate location for
and shrink it to eight? If you can think differently, fuse things
injection molding? What fiber orientation is optimal? Is the
together and over mold electronics, then all sorts of things
orientation in line with the stresses induced in the bracket? The
become cheaper and faster.”
project required the team at PlastiComp to carefully consider
Even though composites usage in household appliances is
material selection, tool design and the manufacturing process.
not new, customer education remains a priority in that niche,
too. Mar-Bal holds “knowledge share events,” bringing several
employees to key accounts to position composites as a substitute
material. The company spends a couple of hours with the client’s
design engineers, product engineers, the quality team, purchasing
staff and others. “The goal is to raise awareness of the benefits
of composites because many people don’t really know what they
are,” says Poff.
These knowledge share events are the prelude to solid
partnerships with customers. It’s important to get in on the
ground floor and offer advice on design and processes. “Our job
is to interface with the customer – to understand their needs –
then balance that with the capabilities of thermoset composite
materials and processes,” says Imbrogno. For example, by
being involved early Mar-Bal can inform a client if a surface or
geometry can’t be molded reliably or if a unique color or look
requires post-mold finishing.
“I think consumer products is one of the more challenging
sectors of thermoset technology,” says Imbrogno. “We’re talking
about high-output injection molding with multiple cavities and
lights-out automation, while producing a part that’s near perfect.”
The pressure to produce complex appliances and electronics
that must look great and feel good is compounded by the urgency
within the industry to churn out newer, better items at breakneck
speed. “It’s so different from aerospace or automotive,” says
Halford. “You talk to an auto guy who says they need something
quickly, and you just smile and say, ‘Yes, of course.’ But that’s
not quickly. The consumer electronics world will redefine your
understanding of scale and speed.”
Mathur of PlastiComp concurs. Their customers demand short
development cycles – typically eight months or less depending
on the complexity of the part and how long it takes to make the
tool. The development cycle for the mobile phone bracket was
only four months. That’s a rigorous schedule for one company,
which is why Halford of Surface Generation says partnering is
paramount to future success in the marketplace.
“To work on something new, you must collaborate, even if you
are competitors,” he says. “Consumer electronics companies will
not single-source from a supplier, so I need my peer group to
be successful. We need three or four viable material suppliers,
processing suppliers and molding houses out there who are
credible to ignite the touchpaper.” With a capable supply chain
working together and generating excitement in the marketplace,
products will follow. Halford says big players in the consumer
electronics industry will release an initial wave of compositebased products this year. Then those companies and followers
will work out the kinks inevitable in new products and market
second-generation products throughout 2016. Halford expects
thermoplastic consumer electronics “will settle down into
normalcy” by 2017.
In the meantime, there’s a lot of work to be done by composites
industry professionals. For those up to the task, Halford offers
this cautionary advice: “Strap in, hold your breath and delete any
assumptions you may have.” The upside? He says, “The rewards
are definitely there.”
Susan Keen Flynn is managing editor of Composites
Manufacturing magazine. Email comments to
[email protected]
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State of
What Will Drive Composites
Growth in 2015?
By Dr. Sanjay Mazumdar
One of the best ways to judge an industry’s vitality is to look at end
product demand. For composites, the picture is promising: Demand for
end products, ranging from bath tubs and golf clubs to rebar and roof
panels, reached $21.2 billion in 2014. Such demand, in turn, leads to a
healthy composite materials market.
market for composites worldwide after China in terms of
volume consumption. In 2013, the U.S. ranked No. 1 in per
capita composite materials consumption with approximately 16
pounds, followed by Germany with approximately 8.6 pounds.
Comparatively, per capita composites consumption in China was
4.8 pounds – the highest among BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia,
India and China).
To understand how and why composites can gain market share,
it’s important to take a closer look at some key market segments.
In 2014, the U.S. automotive/transportation industry grew
for the fifth consecutive year. Auto sales were projected to
reach 16.5 million units, and light-duty vehicle production in
North America was projected to grow by 5.6 percent. Growth
in demand can be attributed to the easy availability of credit
at low interest rates, increasing consumer confidence and the
introduction of fuel-efficient vehicles.
Demand for composites in the U.S. automotive industry
grew by 6.3 percent in 2014 due to increasing use of fiberglass
Source: Lucintel
The U.S. composite materials market grew by 6.3 percent
last year to reach $8.2 billion in value and 5.5 billion pounds
in terms of annual shipment. Looking ahead, key economic
indicators and market dynamics suggest that in 2015, the U.S.
composite materials market will grow 4.9 percent to reach 5.8
billion pounds of annual shipment. Dominating the materials
market are glass fiber in the reinforcement segment and polyester
resin in the resin segment.
The top three market segments in 2014 were transportation,
construction and pipe and tank. These segments represented 69
percent of total volume. Demand in the U.S. composites market
is expected to reach $12 billion by 2020 with a compound
annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.6 percent. Recovery in the
wind energy market, as well as continuing growth in the
transportation/automotive, aerospace and construction sectors,
are likely to stimulate the composites market through 2020 and
beyond. By 2020, approximately 65 percent of U.S. composites
growth by value is expected to be driven by the aerospace,
transportation and construction industries.
Extending the look globally, the U.S. is the second largest
Source: Lucintel
Light Commercial Vehicles in North America
Passenger Cars in North America
Annual Growth Rate (%) of Composites Consumption in the US Automotive Industry
composites in interior, exterior and underbody applications
as well as the higher use of carbon fiber composites in highperformance vehicles. Last year, SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers
announced plans to triple its manufacturing capacity of carbon
fiber by early 2015. At present, SGL has the capacity to produce
3,000 tons of carbon fiber.
Industry regulations, such as the Corporate Average Fuel
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Economy (CAFE) standard in the United States and the
European Union Automotive Fuel Economy policy, present a
challenge to automotive OEMs: They are charged with increasing
fuel efficiency and reducing the carbon footprint. The past few
years have seen rapid developments in lightweighting efforts to
meet those requirements. With aluminum, high-strength steel,
magnesium and composites emerging as the front runners in
lightweighting, it remains unclear which material combination
will dominate the auto industry.
Composite materials offer significant benefits to automakers. The
use of carbon fiber reduces vehicle weight and, as result, increases
fuel efficiency and lowers carbon dioxide emissions. However,
carbon fiber comes with a price penalty. Strategic alliances – such
as those between GM and Teijin, Ford and DowAksa, and Daimler
AG and Toray Industries Inc. – are focused on incorporating
carbon fiber in mass production vehicles.
Overall, market penetration of composites within automotive
seems to follow a similar path as the early-adapting aerospace
industry. Over time, aerospace has built significant confidence
in composites technology, and next-generation aircraft now
have about 50 percent composites content. With increasing
lightweighting requirements, the auto industry will likely witness
similar confidence in composites: The structures of the nextgeneration car models may reach 10 to 20 percent composites
content in next 20 years.
Within aerospace, composite materials demand grew by 10.7
percent in 2014. Composites provide numerous advantages in
this segment: They are lightweight with higher strength than
competing materials, which results in improved fuel efficiency,
an increase in passenger carrying capacity, low emissions and low
maintenance costs.
Composite material consumption has increased significantly
in the commercial aerospace sector, from 5 to 6 percent in the
1990s to more than 50 percent in today’s advanced aircraft
Source: Lucintel
programs, such as the Boeing 787 and Airbus 350. Composites
usage will continue to grow because of increased production of
advanced aircraft models. With more people flying, the demand for
commercial aircraft will subsequently increase. Furthermore, there’s
been an escalation in production to fill the huge pile of order
backlogs (notably within the Boeing 737 and Airbus 320 families
of aircraft), which also accelerates demand for composite materials.
Source: Lucintel
The main impetus for growth in the construction industry
is housing starts, which grew 5.3 percent in 2014. Another
contributing factor is government allocation of funds for
retrofitting old infrastructures, especially bridges and roads.
Within construction, composites demand registered 4.9 percent
growth in 2014. This market continues to be the second largest
(after transportation) for composite materials by volume.
While construction is a sizable market, composites penetration
is very low compared to other materials. However, composites
are found in numerous applications, including grating, rebar,
handrails, structural profiles, utility poles and bridges.
The future is bright for this market, in part, because the
United States will need to invest significantly in the repair
and maintenance of its old infrastructure. For example, there
are 147,870 deficient bridges requiring repair. According
to Federal Highway Administration estimates, the U.S.
needs to invest $20.5 billion annually to eliminate deficient
bridges, whereas only $12.8 billion is currently being spent
by the federal government. A partnering of raw material
suppliers and parts fabricators to educate state departments
of transportation and other stakeholders would likely create
significant demand for composites.
Source: Lucintel
Pipe & Tank
The pipe and tank market promises solid growth opportunities,
considering significant demand from various end application
industries, such as oil and gas, retail fuel, water/waste water
and sewage. Increasing shale gas exploration activities and the
expanding offshore oil and gas industry contribute to the rise of
composites usage in the pipe and tank market.
The demand for composite materials within this market grew
5.2 percent in 2014. Low-cost natural gas gives pace to the
development of new chemical facilities along with the expansion
of older ones for chemical processing. That, in turn, creates
demand for FRP pipes. Some chemical companies are shifting
their production bases to areas where there is a huge reserve of
shale gas, which also increases demand for FRP pipes.
The U.S. government and private players are expected to
invest more to set up new pipelines to transport crude oil and
gas. Plastic and polymer resin manufacturers also are setting up
manufacturing plants in new shale gas areas for the development
of low-cost feedstock, such as propane and ethane. There are
many applications in the oil and gas industry, including grating,
risers, tethers, drill pipes, glass-reinforced epoxy pipes and frac
balls and plugs.
Renewable Energy
Wind energy is another segment where composites are a
great fit. With ever-increasing blade lengths and boosts in the
megawatt capacity of turbines, the use of lightweight materials
has subsequently increased. Composite materials offer significant
weight reduction and increased blade stiffness, which in turn
raises the level of energy output. In addition, the burgeoning
offshore wind market compels blade manufacturers to use
advanced materials that can reduce system weight without
compromising mechanical properties.
The government’s renewable energy incentives, such as the
Production Tax Credit (PTC) policy, impact the development of
wind energy in the United States. The PTC expired in 2013, but
U.S. legislation extended the term for availing PTC benefits until
2015. Wind farms will be eligible to derive optimum benefits
of the extended PTC on projects begun in 2013 and whose
construction will take subsequent years to complete.
As the figure above shows, when PTC benefits are extended, wind
installations rise. Conversely, the removal or expiration of PTC
policies have resulted in a decline in new capacity installations.
Industry Innovations
Although composite materials have successfully penetrated
various market segments, continuous innovations are required
to address arising needs. Industry leaders are developing new
resins, fibers, compounds, nano-materials, bioplastics and so on.
Technology suppliers also are developing new technologies for
rapid production, low energy consumption and low wastage of
raw materials.
Lightweighting and cost reduction are two trends that permeate
the industry. Innovation mega trends also are affecting individual
sectors of the composites industry, including fibers, resins,
composites technology and end-use applications:
Fiber Innovations: Significant innovation is expected in
future development of low-cost carbon fibers for automotive,
wind energy and industrial applications. Low-cost alternative
precursors such as textile polyacrylonitrile (PAN), lignin and
polyolefin also are being considered. In addition, there is a focus
on reducing energy cost.
Within the GFRP market, suppliers are developing highperformance glass fibers to meet higher mechanical and chemical
requirements. Finally, a growing focus on green materials
provides momentum to the development of high-strength natural
fibers that could ultimately increase penetration in automotive,
construction and other industries.
Resin Innovations: More new product launches in resin will
focus on shorter cure time (in the range of one to two minutes)
for mass volume applications. Momentive and Huntsman have
developed epoxy resin systems with short cycle times for high
The ‘Push and Pull’ of Composites Growth
There are thousands of composites applications with good track records. The penetration level of composites in each application differs according to performance requirements, functional requirements and other factors. Lucintel has identified two distinct
strategic viewpoints – push and pull strategies – that can help the composites industry grow. In marketing, push strategies involve taking products directly to customers, while pull strategies motivate customers to actively seek out products.
pressure resin transfer molding (HP-RTM) and compression
molding. In the wind energy segment, resins are being developed
with optimum gel time for long wind blades. Throughout
the industry, low-cost and high-strength nano-resins will gain
traction in future applications, and bio resins are on the uptick to
meet growing environmental concerns.
Technology Innovations: Lucintel expects significant
innovation mega trends in composite technologies targeting
faster cycle times, better product quality, lower capital and lower
processing costs. A major technology challenge is to achieve
the targeted one- to two-minute cycle time for mass volume
automotive applications. That should be addressed in the
near future with the advent of technologies such as HP-RTM,
compression molding, carbon fiber reinforced thermoplastics
(CFRTP), pressure press and forged composites.
Another trend is the development of processes with the
combined capabilities of automated fiber placement (AFP)
and automated tape laying (ATL) for reduction in capital cost
and improved throughput. In addition, recycling techniques
for carbon composites are advancing, thereby strengthening
life cycle robustness. Finally, notable efforts are expected in the
development of better weaving techniques for carbon fiber,
addressing the challenge of lower compressive strength for wind
blade applications.
Application Innovations: Enhanced applications abound in
nearly every segment of the composites industry. Within the
automotive industry, the push to create lighter vehicles has
led automakers such as BMW, Mercedes, Ford and GM to
incorporate carbon composites in mass volume cars. In the wind
energy, there is a growing trend toward developing one-piece and
modular wind blade technology.
Several innovation mega trends are occurring in aerospace.
More carbon composite and nano composite applications will
emerge. The Boeing 787 and Airbus 350XWB have incorporated
significant composites in structural parts (about 50 percent
by weight). Lockheed Martin has committed to replacing
approximately 100 composite or metal components with carbon
nano-reinforced polymers (CNRP) throughout the F-35’s airframe.
CNRP offers up to 30 percent weight reduction at one tenth of
the cost of CFRP and has a strength that is several times higher.
The aerospace industry also is moving toward more ATL and AFP
processes to increase throughput.
Looking Ahead
The aforementioned innovations are likely to address the unmet
needs of composite materials and will help to make composites a
material of choice in many segments. Prudent investments should
yield long-term growth in the marketplace.
Dr. Sanjay Mazumdar is CEO of Lucintel, a global market
research and management consulting firm. Email comments to
[email protected]
Additive manufacturing
is building its way into more projects,
on the shop floor
and at home.
Photo Credit: Martinde Bouter
By Mary Beck
he word “manufacturing” may bring to mind images of factories housing huge
machines in an assembly line creating one item thousands of times. But in the past
decade, the rise of 3-D printing has brought manufacturing into homes and small businesses,
allowing users to bring to life on a desktop any item they can dream up with a CAD
program. Composites companies are jumping into the field, too, by 3-D printing items with
reinforced fibers.
With additive manufacturing, material is placed layer by layer,
producing a stair-step effect.
The MarkOne may not look so different from other desktop 3-D
printers, but it’s the first one to print carbon fiber composites
now it’s actually realistic for someone to not have any engineering
experience whatsoever, but still be able to print an idea and show
it to people.”
Processes and Production Considerations
The overall process to 3-D print an object can be reduced to
the basic steps of creating a CAD file, converting it to STL,
transferring the STL file to the machine, preparing the machine,
waiting for the item to print, then removing it and completing
any post-processing by hand. This may be simple enough to do at
home, but there are still numerous considerations to make before
a manufacturer can begin printing.
The ease or difficulty of additive manufacturing varies for each
project, says Chad Duty, group leader of Oak Ridge National
Laboratory’s Deposition Science & Technology Manufacturing
Demonstration Facility, who led a pre-conference tutorial
on additive manufacturing at CAMX 2014. Off the bat, the
manufacturer must make several decisions before the CAD file
is created, including choosing the best machines and materials
for the project that are compatible with one of many different
additive manufacturing processes.
Most 3-D printers, especially hobbyist and consumer-oriented
models, use fused deposition modeling, a special application of
plastic extrusion. Duty says electron beam melting – a powder
bed fusion technique – and direct laser metal sintering are two
other popular options.
Properties such as layer thickness and support materials
must also be considered before designing the object. Layer
thickness affects the finished product’s resolution, accuracy
and surface finish. Duty says that thinner layers are better and
produce less of a “stair-step” effect in between. Any section
of the design that abruptly hangs out from the rest requires
a support material during printing, which could be powder,
liquid or sacrificial deposit.
Where the process can get tricky is during post-processing,
which involves removing any support material and sanding edges.
“Sometimes [the support material] is powder that you can easily
blow away, or sometimes it’s a brittle plastic that you have to
Photo Credit: MarkForged
A Brief History of 3-D
While the term “3-D printing” permeates the press, it was
originally coined by MIT to describe polymer-based desktop
models. 3-D printing falls under the larger umbrella of additive
manufacturing, the industry term for all applications of technology
that use a process of joining materials to make objects from 3-D
model data, usually layer upon layer. Additive manufacturing
only uses what material is needed, in contrast to subtractive
manufacturing, which involves cutting parts away from a larger
chunk of material to create the desired final product.
Excitement surrounding additive manufacturing has spiked
in the last two years, but early equipment and materials have
existed since the 1980s. Chuck Hull of 3D Systems Corporation
invented a process known as stereolithography in 1984, in which
layers are added by curing photopolymers with UV lasers. He
also developed the STL (STereoLithography) file format widely
used by 3-D printing software as well as digital slicing and infill
strategies common to many processes.
A 3-D printer creates an object by following the STL file’s
instructions to lay down successive layers of liquid, powder,
paper or sheet material in a series of cross sections. These layers
correspond to the virtual cross sections from the CAD model
and are joined or automatically fused to finish the object. The
material enters an extruder via a funnel where the material
is heated to its melting point and pressed together to form a
homogeneous liquid. The printer head extrudes the melted
material along the paths in the STL file on the X and Y axes
before moving up one step along the Z axis.
A variety of materials can be used in additive manufacturing
processes, including metals, polymers and fibers. Discontinuous
strands of carbon fiber or fiberglass are most frequently used to
reinforce plastics in 3-D printing processes across every market
sector, including automotive, aerospace, tooling, medicine and
infrastructure. These reinforcements deliver the strength of
composites with less material in less time and can be designed
and prototyped from one desktop.
Additive manufacturing technologies originally were applied
in product development, data visualization, rapid prototyping
and specialized manufacturing, but applications have expanded
quickly since the early 2000s. In 2005, the open-source RepRap
and [email protected] desktop 3-D printer projects established a
hobbyist and home-use market. Now, instead of going to a
store to buy an object made in a factory by injection molding,
such as a funnel, a person might instead print it at home from a
downloaded 3-D model.
Adam Clark, general manager at Tangible Solutions, knows
firsthand how useful printing at home can be. “I make toys for
my son all the time. I don’t think I’ve bought him a new toy
in more than a year,” says Clark, adding that he even created a
custom leg to replace one broken off of his son’s toy soldier.
Clark, who presented a session on additive manufacturing at
CAMX 2014, thinks that the rising popularity of 3-D printing
can be attributed to its commercialization and commoditization,
making markets more consumer-driven. “Everyone can be a
maker now,” he says. “Everyone’s got ideas about something, and
Tourists visit the 3-D Print Canal House in Amsterdam during its construction. The house is being printed using sustainable materials.
physically break out,” says Duty. “If you’re making a part that’s
really complex and you’ve got really tight corners that you need
to get material out of, that becomes a challenge.”
Sanding the material may be needed, but Duty says that,
again, it depends on the purpose of the part and the reasons
post-processing is needed. “If [the reason] is not cosmetic,
you only have to machine or finish the areas that have
functionality,” he clarifies. “If you want it to be a cosmetic
appearance, you pretty much have to do any exterior surface,
and it can be time consuming.”
Additive manufacturing may not be well suited to certain
projects. “There’s still a sticker shock,” Clark says. “People
have a misconception that 3-D printing is extremely cheap,
but not everything is that way.” Many who work with additive
manufacturing processes note that there is a sweet spot where it’s
most effective – creating complex parts in lower quantities. The
more complex (or less solid) the object is, the faster and cheaper
it can be made through additive manufacturing instead of
subtractive manufacturing techniques, because the complete part
will be created at once instead of having to remove and dispose of
many different sized sections from a large slab of material.
Slower speeds and a discontinuous production process stand in
the way of printing objects in larger quantities. “If you’re making
4 million parts this year, it’s really hard to do that with additive
just because of the throughputs,” says Duty. “The machines aren’t
available, and they don’t deposit [material] that fast.” Careful
examination of the benefits and drawbacks is needed for each
part or project.
Applications Forge Ahead
Although there are challenges to additive manufacturing, the
potential is too good to pass up for many markets. Architects in
Amsterdam are printing an entire house from bioplastics and a
resin made with 80 percent vegetable oil. Additive manufacturing
is taking off in the medical field as well. Louisiana Tech
University is fabricating custom medical implants that biodegrade
and release antibacterial and chemotherapeutic compounds.
Likewise, the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine
is among the first veterinary programs in the U.S. to use 3-D
printing and models to prepare for complicated surgeries by
modeling parts of the body that will undergo surgery.
While much of additive manufacturing is currently focused
in metal, its presence is growing in the composites industry.
Stratasys uses 3-D printing techniques to build complex
molds and mandrels for carbon fiber layups with watersoluble materials, so after the carbon fiber part is finished on
the mold, the mold can simply be washed away. Two other
groundbreaking applications include lightweight microcomposites developed by the U.S. Army Research Laboratory
that soldiers can use to 3-D print devices as needed and the
Photo Credit: Marije van Woerden
first functional 3-D printed car built by Local Motors and Oak
Ridge National Laboratory. (To read an article about the car,
visit and click on the
Automotive link under the Market Segments tab.)
Perhaps the most exciting recent innovation in composite
applications is MarkForged’s MarkOne, the first and only 3-D
printer that prints continuous carbon fiber strands. Other
composite 3-D printers use chopped or discontinuous carbon
fibers, which are not as strong as the continuous strands of
carbon fiber, fiberglass, Kevlar, nylon and polylactic acid that the
MarkOne can print.
Parts printed on the MarkOne can be as large as 12 x 6¼ x
6¼ inches and are designed to be stronger than 6061-T6 grade
aluminum by weight and up to a third of the strength of carbon
fiber composites, according to the company. Manufacturers
can make parts on the MarkOne more cheaply than traditional
methods because the printer’s blend of thermoplastics
immediately hardens during printing without vacuum bagging,
post-curing or wasting material.
Greg Mark, CEO of MarkForged, thinks his company’s
product has the potential to expand the use of composites in
additive manufacturing. “You can take carbon fiber and sell it at
a reasonable rate… so it [becomes] attainable to a much wider
engineering audience,” Mark says.
Also appealing to a wider engineering audience is the printer’s
accompanying software. With it, users can simply run an
algorithm to add a sandwich panel to their design, instead of
requiring the user to understand sandwich panels and build the
panels into the design themselves. “You can spend more time
designing and engineering and less time having to figure out
tooling,” says Mark. “It gets you your prototype or your final
product much, much faster.”
Duty drove home how 3-D printing can speed up a project
with custom parts with an anecdote shared during his
CAMX tutorial. He described how Oak Ridge used additive
manufacturing to help create a custom tool for the Cherry
Point, N.C., Fleet Readiness Center in less than a week and for
a few thousand dollars, a stark contrast from the four months
and $50,000 that would have been required to obtain the tool
through traditional processes.
Though additive manufacturing is not a silver bullet for all
manufacturing projects, its massive potential in all markets and
commercial appeal are changing the face of manufacturing and
redefining what is possible to create. Looking ahead, Clark is
particularly excited about bringing 3-D printers into outer space
and what that could mean for both the future of space travel and
3-D printing itself. “I think people are starting to associate 2-D
drawings with theory and 3-D printed parts with reality,” he says.
“Additive is getting a lot of hype. A lot of that is deserved,
though it is probably a little over-hyped in certain areas,” muses
Duty. “But I would say that additive is here to stay.”
Mary Beck is the communications coordinator at ACMA. Email
comments to [email protected]
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Legislative & Regulatory
Composites on a World Tour
erhaps it’s a sign of increasing globalization, but ACMA’s
recent regulatory work has taken a distinct international flavor.
Our first globally sourced opportunity came by way of our
boatbuilding colleagues, who called to tell us the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) was planning to prohibit the use of HFC134a, widely used as a propellant for polyurethane foam floatation
systems in boats and for insulated panels in refrigerated trailers.
The EPA’s planned action is part of its
program under the Montreal Protocol,
a 1987 treaty designed to phase out
the production of HFC-134a and
other hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) that
contribute to the destruction of the
stratospheric ozone layer that shields the
earth’s surface from harmful ultraviolet radiation.
HFCs are also potent heat trapping gases, and the EPA wants
to prohibit or strictly limit the use of these compounds both to
protect stratospheric ozone and to reduce climate change. But
the agency recently proposed to eliminate use of HFC-134a by
Jan. 1, 2017, much too soon to allow composites manufacturers
to identify and fully qualify workable replacements.
In comments recently submitted to the EPA, ACMA argued
our industry’s use of HFC-134a has the net effect of reducing the
emission of climate warming gases because of the fuel savings
accrued from the use of lighter and better insulated trailers. The
association asked the agency to delay phase-out of this important
substance until 2020.
Another call reached ACMA’s
international switchboard from the U.N.’s
Persistent Organic Pollutant Review
Committee (POPRC). Convened under
the 2001 Stockholm Convention, another
international treaty, the POPRC identifies
toxic substances that may accumulate in the
environment, evaluates the availability of feasible alternatives, and
then for each substance recommends either a complete phase-out,
a limited ban, or, if there are no alternatives, no action.
The POPRC’s July 2014 risk assessment report for
pentachlorophenol (PCP), a toxic and environmentally
persistent substance widely used in the U.S. and Canada
for the preservation of wood utility poles and railroad ties,
included a lengthy evaluation of materials that may serve as
useful replacement for treated wood in these applications.
Unfortunately, the POPRC’s discussion on composite utility
poles contained several critical misstatements.
In response, ACMA sent the POPRC information and
references supporting the proven benefits and performance of
composite utility poles and argued they are a feasible replacement
for treated wood poles. A PCP phase-out recommended by the
U.N. group may tip the large U.S. utility pole market in the
direction of composites.
Rio de Janeiro
OSHA’s major 2012 update
to its Hazard Communications
System (HCS) is designed to
harmonize U.S. requirements
with the Globally Harmonized
System of Classification
and Labelling of Chemicals,
developed by the Inter-Organization Program for Sound
Management of Chemicals, a U.N. program created under
a treaty singed at the 1992 Conference on Environment and
Development in Rio de Janeiro.
We can debate the public welfare value of global harmonization
and further question whether OSHA’s 2012 HCS contributes
to it, but whatever its value, OSHA’s new regulation requires
chemical importers, manufacturers, formulators (companies
producing mixtures, like many paints and coatings, and
unsaturated polyester resin), distributers and users to change over
to an entirely new system for characterizing and communicating
chemical hazard and safety information.
HCS-2012 requires suppliers to provide compliant new labels and
safety data sheets for hazardous substances by July 1, 2015. (Users
of chemicals – “employers” in OSHA’s vernacular – were required
to train employees on the new label and SDS formats by December
2013.) For the most part, to properly characterize hazards on their
own, SDS chemical manufacturers and formulators will rely on
hazard characterizations provided by their suppliers via updated
SDS. But formulators are not likely to receive updated SDS from
their suppliers until just before the July 1 deadline for issuance of
their own updated SDS.
To get composites material suppliers out of this catch-22,
ACMA worked with a large coalition to delay the HCS-2012
compliance deadline for product labels and SDS. In its response
to this effort, OSHA agreed that companies relying on suppliers
for hazard information could continue to comply with the old
1994-HCS, as long as they were making good faith efforts to
obtain HCS-2012-compliant information from suppliers and had
written plans for updating labels and SDS when the information
was obtained.
Information about ACMA’s portfolio of international (and U.S.)
regulatory activity is available at
John Schweitzer is vice president of government affairs for
ACMA. Email comments to [email protected]
Inside ACMA
be dependent on materials that are
recyclable and that the composites
industry supply chain needs to work
together to chart a path for success. To
learn more about the White Paper or to
join the GCC Recycling Committee,
contact John Busel at [email protected]
Nominations for
the ACMA Board
Need Infrastructure
Do you know someone who would be
a good fit for the ACMA Board? Let
us know! Please contact Tom Dobbins
at [email protected] to nominate a
new ACMA board member. The Board
commitment is for three years and requires
attendance at three board meetings each
year. Joining the ACMA board enables
executives to take an active role in helping
to shape the future of ACMA and the
composites industry.
A recent National Association
of Manufacturers report reveals
manufacturers’ competitiveness is at
stake due to a lack of investment in our
nation’s aging infrastructure. The report
argues that a long-term investment is
Pantone 376 C
Pantone 3025 C
Pantone 180 C
Pantone 376 C
Pantone 3025 C
Pantone 180 C
c - 50
y - 100
c - 100
m - 17
k - 51
m - 79
y - 100
k - 11
r - 141
g - 198
b - 63
g - 89
b - 132
r - 217
g - 83
b - 30
needed to increase jobs, grow GDP,
provide a $3 return on investment
for every $1 invested in infrastructure
and provide Americans an increase in
take-home pay after taxes. Composites
manufacturers will take this message
to their elected representatives during
ACMA’s National Policy Summit, April
14-15 in Washington, D.C. For more
information, visit
Finally, there’s a fire retardant, low smoke/low smoke toxicity
phenolic FRP that’s processed as easily as polyester. It’s called
Cellobond® FRP and it’s processed from phenolic resins available
in a wide range of viscosities for:
Hand lay-up/spray*
Filament winding*
Press molding
*FM approved
Gel coated Cellobond Phenolic FRP far exceeds DOT and FAA
requirements and meets all stringent European fire performance
tests with ease. The low density, high temperature resistance, low
flame and low smoke / smoke toxicity properties make Cellobond®
phenolic resins the hottest new material for fire retardant
applications. For the aircraft and aerospace industries that
require ablative materials, we also offer Durite® resins from
Momentive. Call or write today for more information.
Committee Charts
the Future
ACMA’s Green Composites Council
– Recycling Committee is currently
working on a project to develop a White
Paper on the future of composites
recycling and the role the composites
industry should play to solve this
problem. The Recycling Committee
recognizes that future business could
Mektech Composites Inc.
Distributor for Momentive Specialty Chemicals Inc. (Formerly Hexion)
40 Strawberry Hill Rd.
Hillsdale, NJ 07642
Tel: (201) 666-4880 Fax: (201) 666-4303
E-Mail: [email protected]
Cellobond® and Durite® are registered trademarks of Momentive Specialty Chemicals Inc.
660285_Mektech.indd 1
10/1/13 1:01 AM
New Members
Amerex Energy Services
Sugar Land, Texas
Eco-Wolf Inc.
Edgewater, Fla.
Del Valle, Mexico City, Mexico
Stewartville, Minn.
Innovative Architecture with
Mansfield Plumbing Products LLC
Henderson, Texas
University of Miami
Civil, Architectural & Environmental Engineering
Coral Gables, Fla.
For more information on becoming a member of ACMA,
email [email protected]
or call 703-682-1665.
Imagine endless possibilities… | 360.856.5143
Industry Calendar of Events
ArchitectureAd 14_2.indd 1
11/25/2014 11:20:39 AM
For more information regarding ACMA’s upcoming events
and education, visit
January 20-21
Road Mapping the Future of Composites
Washington, D.C.
Leader in development and manufacture of
PVA protective films for composites in the USA.
February 2-6
ACMA presents at World of Concrete
Las Vegas, Nev.
March 3-5
ACMA presents at the Lightweighting Summit
Detroit, Mich.
March 23-27
ACMA presents and exhibits at The International Plastics
Showcase (NPE)
Orlando, Fla.
April 14-15
ACMA National Policy Summit
Washington, D.C.
653882_REXCO.indd 1
Custom Made Epoxies
Designed to Meet Specific Requirements
• Latest technology
April 23-25
ACMA presents at the ASCE Structures Congress
Portland, Ore.
14/08/13 2:58 PM
• Personal one-on-one support
2018AS_3.25x2.5b.indd 1
11/13/13 7:48 PM
Inside ACMA
Providing Building
to the Federal
The General Services Administration
(GSA) is considering the adoption of
LEEDv4 as the “green code” to apply
to all of the 9,600 federal buildings it
manages. LEEDv4 discourages the use of
building materials made using chemicals
like styrene that are found on various toxic
“red lists,” even if there are no exposures
and no health risks associated with use of
those materials in a building. The GSA
is planning a public listening session to
hear feedback from stakeholders such as
manufacturers and suppliers of building
components and materials. This session
will be a good opportunity for ACMA
members to encourage the GSA to focus
on actual risk. ACMA would also like to
educate the GSA that discouraging the
use of products manufactured using many
of the “red-listed” substances like styrene
could actually result in the construction
of buildings that are less sustainable.
For more information, contact John
Schweitzer at [email protected]
AOC Resins........................................... 27
CCP Composites ............................... IBC
Composites One ................................ IFC
Deltech Corporation – Headquarters ......3
Elliott Company of Indianapolis, Inc. .....4
Gurit ..................................................... 11
HEATCON Composite Systems .......... 17
Janicki Industries – Headquarters ......... 30
Mar-Bal, Inc. ........................................ 13
Master Bond ........................................ 30
Mektech Composites ............................ 29
PCCR USA Inc .......................................7
REXCO Mold Care Products ............... 30
Saertex USA ............................................5
Thermwood Corporation ...................... 31
US Polychemical .....................................6
Wisconsin Oven Corporation ............. BC
BC=Back Cover, IFC=Inside Front Cover
IBC=Inside Back Cover
ACMA Seeks Reduced Tariffs for Many
Composite Products
At the invitation of the U.S. Trade Representative, ACMA is collecting nominations from
industry members for a list of “environmental goods” that will qualify for reduced import
and export tariffs under a World Trade Organization program. An initiative of the Obama
Administration, the reduced tariffs should promote the global trade of products used to clean
up or prevent pollution, including many composite products such as wind turbine blades,
utility poles and water/wastewater treatment components. More information can be found
on ACMA’s Government Affairs Blog at
712100_Thermwood.indd 1
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Postcure Chatter
Composites Manufacturing by the Numbers
Our writers unearthed these fascinating figures while researching articles for this issue of
Composites Manufacturing magazine.
Green roofs can reduce heating and cooling
loads on a building by 50 to 90 percent.
Read about what makes composites the ideal
material to support green roofs on page 10.
16+ processes
Most in-home 3-D printers
use fused deposition modeling, a special application of
plastic extrusion, but there
are more than 16 types of
additive manufacturing processes. To learn more about
additive manufacturing, turn
to page 24.
1.9 billion
Technology research firm
Gartner anticipates more
than 1.9 billion mobile
phones will be sold in
2015. Imagine what that
could mean for manufacturers developing composite
brackets for the phones!
Companies in the consumer
electronics market tell their
stories on page 14.
More than 90,000 people pass
through Union Station’s doors
daily. Those traveling by bus
from Washington, D.C.’s transportation hub may visit the new
information and shopping pavilion, made from molded FRP.
Read about the design, fabrication and installation on page 8.
Photo Credit: Anice Hoachlander, Hoachlander/Davis
300 million miles
Since 2007, Walmart has delivered 830 million more cases while
driving 300 million fewer miles in its efforts to double fuel efficiency. As part of its strategy, the multinational retailer developed
a concept tractor-trailer that’s nearly 4,000 pounds lighter than
typical trucks. The article on page 12 provides an in-depth look at
the vehicle.
We can be
the lightest
and the strongest
CCP Composites is a global leader for thermoset composites. The company specializes in the development and production of
unsaturated polyester resins, vinyl ester resins, gel coats and derivatives.
Present on four continents with manufacturing, commercial and R&D facilities, CCP Composites provides its customers with
innovative and sustainable solutions, supported by its three centers of expertise in France, Korea, and the United States.
Throughout its value chain, the company combines eco-design, quality and progress while protecting the environment, as a
responsible company pioneering innovation.
For further technical & product information, visit
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