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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.

Bakelite materials used in Airbus floors

Bakelite AG of Iserlohn, Germany, supplies a combination of epoxy and phenolic resins to make flooring panels for Airbus Industrie's A-340 commercial aircraft.

``This combination was not previously possible,'' Carl-Herman Conrad, Bakelite's marketing director, said at SAMPE in Anaheim.

Top and bottom layers of epoxy sandwich two layers of carbon-fiber phenolics, and co-curing occurs in a single step and meets requirements for mechanical and fireproofing properties, Conrad said. Stesalit AG of Zullwil, Switzerland, makes the prepreg material.

Separately, Bakelite has developed a chemically resistant resin system for filament winding and pultrusion applications. The system provides ``improved fiber wetting and free phenolic content of less than 1 percent,'' Conrad said.

Bakelite AG employs 1,280 and generated 1996 European sales of US$418 million.

Advanced Resin Systems of Des Plaines, Ill., represents Bakelite in North America.

Lockheed calls for more materials R&D

The polymer composites industry needs ``a concerted effort at top levels'' to advance basic research of materials and processes, Cecil Schneider said at a May 8 symposium of the U.S. Air Force office of scientific research.

``Affordability is the driver for all future [Defense Department] systems,'' said Schneider, manager of advanced structures and materials for Lockheed Martin Corp.'s aeronautical systems unit in Marietta, Ga.

``We need innovative processes,'' along with lower costs for resin and fiber, he said. ``No one is working on the long-term deal.''

The symposium on ``Basic Research Challenges in Polymeric Composite Materials and Processing'' was held in conjunction with SAMPE.

Fiber Innovations taps satellite boom

Braided structures supplier Fiber Innovations Inc. ``sees big opportunity in the commercial satellite business,'' said Garrett Sharpless, president

The company has worked on scientific and military programs, but the ``boom in satellites in communications will dwarf what we did in the past.''

In April, Fiber Innovations took an additional 10,000 square feet and now occupies 30,000 square feet at its expandable facility in Walpole, Mass.

Mainly the firm uses resin transfer molding with braiding and stitching processes to fabricate structures for systems integrators.

TRW Inc.'s electronics systems and technology division recognized Fiber Innovations as its 1996 small-business subcontractor of the year for development and delivery of flight-quality torus and graphite epoxy brackets for a satellite program.

Fiber Innovations employs 30.

CMI vies for Calif. column wrapping

In early May, CMI Inc. received approval from the California Department of Transportation to bid on column-wrapping seismic retrofit projects, said Barry Olson, CMI's general manager.

The company recently leased a 15,000-square-foot manufacturing site in Compton, Calif. CMI, a subsidiary of bridge builder C.C. Myers Inc., wraps columns using prefabricated SnapTite composite fiberglass jackets under license from NCF Industries Inc.

During 1996, Caltrans approved Hexcel Fyfe Co., XXsys Technologies Inc. and Hardcore DuPont Composites LLC to bid against steel for wrapping projects.

In related news, XXsys will retrofit 176 spandrel columns supporting six lanes of limited access Highway 134 over Arroyo Seco in Pasadena, Calif. The 1,364-foot-long bridge was built in 1951.

In January, Caltrans awarded the general contract for the arch bridge's seismic upgrade to McCarthy Bros. Construction Co.'s Austin, Texas, unit on a bid of $11.8 million. San Diego-based XXsys's subcontract is worth $551,000.

Composites Horizons expands Calif. plant

Composites Horizons Inc. has added equipment and 10,000 square feet, bringing its facility in Covina, Calif., to 35,000 square feet, according to Thomas Hynes, the firm's president.

``We see business interest and contracts from aircraft and engine people,'' Hynes said.

The composites fabricator installed its fourth autoclave, a 9-foot-diameter Melco model; a 15-by-10-foot Baker oven; a Koolstar walk-in freezer; and a 61-inch, five-axis Haas computer numerically controlled milling machine.

Pacific Environmental Technologies Inc. of Yorba Linda, Calif., also added 4,000 square feet to Composites Horizons' clean room.

Composites Horizons expects by July to fabricate the first article under a $6 million program to supply six elevator tabs of carbon-fiber epoxy and Nomex honeycomb core for each new MD-90 airliner. McDonnell Douglas Corp. awarded the contract in January.

The firm is pursuing ISO 9001 certification this year, reassigning Milton Anderson, vice president of quality assurance, to oversee the qualification effort and promoting Randall May to director of quality assurance to monitor compliance in operations.