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NASHVILLE, TENN. — A 23-foot-long highway bridge made of composite honeycomb panels won the top design award for its fabricator, Kansas Structural Composites Inc., during the SPI Composites Institute's conference.

The Composites Institute, a unit of the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. of Washington, announced the design awards Jan. 29, as the three-day International Composites Expo '97 ended in Nashville.

Morrison Molded Fiber Glass Co. of Bristol, Va., took home three of the market-category awards.

The winning bridge carries a small county road over a creek in Kansas Structural Composites' hometown of Russell, Kan. The bridge weighs 12 tons.

The short-span bridge uses panels made of 60 percent resin and 40 percent reinforcement bonded to a composite honeycomb core.

The panels and core both are molded by a continuous-flow process, using 30 percent recycled resin, according to the Composites Institute.

Other features include a polymer concrete wear surface and composite guardrails. Its span-to-deflection ratio exceeds the range required by the U.S. Highway Bridge Code, according to the Composites Institute.

The bridge was picked from a field of 68 entries in several end-market categories.

Alpha/Owens Corning of Collierville, Tenn., supplied the polyester and vinyl ester resins. The glass fiber supplier was Vetrotex CertainTeed Corp. of Valley Forge, Pa. Brunswick Technologies Inc. of Brunswick, Maine, and ITW Plexus of Danvers, Mass., made the reinforcements.

The top award is called the Counterpoise Grand Design Award. The bridge also netted Kansas Structural Composites the Best of Market Award in the infrastructure category.

The New York-based Composites Institute announced the following design awards:

A troop seat for U.S. Army transport vehicles, made by Bedford Reinforced Plastics Inc. of Bedford, Pa., won in the category of aircraft/aerospace/defense.

MMFG won the automotive award for a swaged tube driveshaft, weighing nearly 7 pounds, which it manufactures for Dana Corp. MMFG also took top honors in the construction category for composite hotel stairwells it makes for Marriott Corp. The company took a third award, in the development category, for a twin-webbed, cellular I-section with transverse stiffeners.

In the consumer category, Sun Rims of Warsaw, Ind., took top honors for a compression molded bicycle rim.

Nashville-based IKG Fiberglass Systems won in the corrosion-resistant equipment category for a modular handrail system made for easy on-site assembly.

Roadway lighting system components made by Zehrco Plastics Inc. of Ashtabula, Ohio, won in the electrical/electronic products market. The customer is Thomas & Betts.

GT Bicycles of Santa Ana, Calif., won the innovation category for its custom racing bike. The company uses a single tool to produce the frame in five sizes.

A leg socket prosthetic won the medical category for Ossur USA Inc. of Carpenteria, Calif.

Kenworth Truck Co. of Kirkland, Wash., won in the nonautomotive transportation category for its sleeper cab roof. The 170-pound truck roof is the largest transportation part ever molded in sheet molding compound, the Composites Institute said.

Premix Inc. of North Kingsville, Ohio, won the specialty category for a seven-piece set of socket wrenches with exceptional safety insulating properties.

Awards were not presented in the appliance/business equipment and marine product categories.

The Clare E. Bacon Person of the Year Award was won by Tom Preisel, vice president of operations and marketing for Baltek Corp. of Northvale, N.J. Preisel was recognized for nearly a decade of service to the Composites Institute. He was one of the architects of the association's market-development program.

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