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Plastics News correspondent Roger Renstrom reported these news briefs from the Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering symposium and exposition, held May 4-8 in Anaheim, Calif.

Companies team up for tow sheet technology

A new team is marketing and distributing Tonen Corp.'s E-glass and unidirectional carbon-fiber Forca tow sheets for construction applications.

``Compositive strengthening is a leading technology in construction today,'' said Kenneth Kruse, director of repair marketing for Master Builders Inc. of Cleveland.

Structural Preservation Systems Inc. of Baltimore is forming a network to link qualified contractors with the skills to install the Forca tow sheets in a Master Builders' system known now as MBrace.

Structural Preservation is the largest repair and restoration contractor in North America.

In January, the team of Tonen, Master Builders and Structural Preservation ``formed a real system that we could take to the marketplace through our channels of distribution and our contractor relationships,'' Kruse said.

The MBrace system strengthens concrete and masonry to contain design or workmanship defects, additional load requirements or seismic retrofit.

Master Builders develops chemicals in additives, polymers and cementitious products to improve, protect and repair concrete in any application.

The unit of Germany's SKW Trostberg AG had 1996 worldwide sales of more than $1.5 billion.

Tokyo-based oil refiner Tonen developed tow sheets as an end-product for petroleum-based pitch carbon fiber, but no longer makes that material. Tonen continues tow sheet production using polyacrylonitrile-based carbon fiber.

Lewcott adds epoxy for low-temp curing

Prepreg supplier Lewcott Corp. of Millbury, Mass., has added tough, fast-curing EP252 to its line of low-temperature-curing epoxy-based systems.

``Our dedication to product development is starting to pay off,'' said Carl Varnerin, market manager for composite materials.

EP252 is being used with a biased fiberglass fabric to make structural poles for pole-vault competitors. Curing in one hour at 250 F, the resin is ``targeted toward recreational areas where fire retardancy is not a main requirement'' and used also with Kevlar or carbon fibers, Varnerin said.

Last year, Lewcott introduced EP250 for use mainly in medical orthopedic applications and EP251 in industrial structural applications.

In addition, Lewcott has a new, unmodified interiors-grade phenolic resin system that is undergoing qualification tests in honeycomb core panels at two producers of aftermarket aircraft interiors. One has placed an order. The 193 system is in use on military and commercial shipboard applications.

Lewcott employs 65 and had 1996 sales of $11 million, up from $9 million in the previous year. In addition to structural composites, the firm uses prepreg for abrasion and filtration products.

Ucar plant installs machining center

By August, Ucar Composites Inc. will begin operation of a $2.6 million Promill 250 machining center at its Irvine, Calif., facility.

The precision tooling equipment can machine 800 inches per minute, traveling 49.2 feet and 16.5 feet in the x- and y-axis, respectively. The new system will offer full six-axis contouring capability with full inspection and analysis.

Currently with five-axis capability, the composites tooling house develops three-dimensional digital master models and uses Valisys-brand software and Catia, Unigraphics and Vericut packages to create machining and inspection programs. An interactive coordinate measuring machine inspects shapes as large as 60 feet by 14 feet by 43 inches.

Ucar Composites has experience in tooling types such as antenna molds, bond jigs, resin transfer molds, stretch form dies and composite lay-up mandrels.

Parent company Ucar International Inc. of Danbury, Conn., reported 1996 profit of $152 million on sales of $948 million.

British firm's prepregs picked for projects

Orbital Sciences Corp. and McDonnell Douglas Corp. selected prepregs from operations of Advanced Composites Group Ltd. for separate projects being funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Orbital of Dulles, Va., is developing two prototypes of the X-34 reusable technology demonstrator vehicle and chose the toughened epoxy prepreg LTM45EL, processable at low temperatures on low-cost tooling.

Vermont Composites of Bennington, Vt., and Aurora Flight Services of Fairmont, W.Va., are building the hardware.

MDC's Phantom Works in St. Louis selected LTM10 prepregs for the external skins of two tailless X-36 aircraft, soon due for flight tests at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

The 28 percent-scale advanced research vehicle incorporates concepts for future aircraft with low radar visibility characteristics.

Advanced Composites, based in Heanor, England, recorded sales of $25 million for the fiscal year ending Aug. 31.

Subsidiary Advanced Composites Group Inc. in Tulsa, Okla., had sales of $8 million last year and, for fiscal 1997, is ``growing close to 50 percent,'' said John Powers, the unit's sales and marketing manager.

Lloyd's Register Quality Assurance Ltd. in London accredited the Heanor facility to ISO 9001 and 9002 standards in August 1995 and the Tulsa site to ISO 9002 in February 1997.