The following items were reported by correspondent Roger Renstrom from the Suppliers of Advanced Composite Materials Association fall conference, held Nov. 7-8 in San Diego.
SACMA develops evaluation process
A new formal procedure developed by SACMA will help manufacturers assess the impact of, and validate, proposed changes to materials and processes.
``The objective is to develop a standardized procedure for the assessment and validation of new operations as well as proposed changes to existing products and/or processes,'' John Banisaukas, SACMA technical affairs committee chairman, reported to the SACMA conference.
SACMA Recommended Prac-tice 1-95 defines what con-stitutes a change and the potential impact of that change on the final product. SACMA charges $50 for the first copy of SRP 1-95 and $5 for each additional copy.
The procedure described in SRP 1-95 will be incorporated in a revised composites handbook that the Mil-Handbook 17 Committee plans to publish in January 1997, said Banisaukas, technical service specialist with Amoco Performance Products Inc. of Alpharetta, Ga.
Focus groups explore nontraditional areas
A focus group explored rail industry use of polymer-composite materials at a Minneapolis meeting as SACMA's first step in looking at nontraditional market sectors.
Composite suppliers face a steep learning curve in efforts to penetrate the conservative railroad industry, which resists change, avoids sharing data on improvements and operates with labor constraints, Glen Mandigo, associate with GHL Inc. in Washington, reported to the SACMA conference. The Sept. 26 focus group was coordinated with the American Railway Engineering Association and two other railway groups.
Other SACMA focus groups are looking at marine, highway and residential building applications.
Mark Bialy, senior account manager with Ciba-Geigy Corp.'s polymers division in Fountain Valley, Calif., coordinated a Nov. 17 focus group on marine applications in conjunction with a San Pedro, Calif., meeting of the American Association of Port Authorities.
Fred Isley, market manager with Hexcel Corp. in Pleasanton, Calif., will coordinate a Jan. 10 meeting on highway applications in conjunction with a Washington meeting of the Transportation Research Board.
Richard Brown, manager of braided products for Atlantic Research Corp. in Gainesville, Va., will coordinate an April focus group on residential building applications in conjunction with a Washington meeting of the American Institute of Architects' professional interest area on building performance and regulations.
Composites should target transportation
SACMA members have a keen interest in selling more for surface transportation applications. They have retained TMA International of Chevy Chase, Md., to gather data about market drivers, barriers and development cycles of cars, buses, trains and other surface vehicles.
``The composites community needs to convince [automotive] component release engineers and platform people, because that's where most of the material changes get turned down,'' Bruce Preble, senior partner, told the SACMA conference.
Major barriers to using polymer composites for structural applications involve process, recycling, cost and safety issues.
Preble said the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles does not foresee a concept vehicle until the year 2000, or production of a composite-intensive vehicle until 2005. PNGV, which comprises representatives of the federal government and automotive original equipment manufacturers, seeks to develop a full-size car that will get 80 miles per gallon.
Members are urged to educate Congress
Composite-material suppliers should try to educate Congress about science and technology because those in the Capitol reject the message, Tom Sellers, Washington representative for DuPont Co., told SACMA's government affairs committee.
Academia and manufacturers appear willing to advance technology development, but ``the only reluctant party we have is government.''
Sellers co-chairs the Coalition for Technology Partnerships, which comprises companies, associations, universities and professional groups. The coalition is targeting members with less than five years in Congress; many of the members categorically reject funding for technology programs.
``This is [about] jobs and not politics,'' Sellers said.
The coalition plans conferences to reinforce the science-and-technology message.
SACMA's board agreed to support the coalition's efforts.
Jeffrey Abboud, SACMA government affairs director, cited the need to define differences between basic and applied research and development and to emphasize specific composite advancements resulting from federal investment.
SACMA presented its 1995 Material Leadership Award to aerospace newsletter author Martin Burg of San Diego ``for his overall support and leadership in the advanced composites industry.''