In an effort to improve market access, suppliers of polymer composites have challenged end-users to standardize their selection and acceptance of the advanced materials. ``Airframe manufacturers must agree to use standard specifications and methods'' to select and accept polymer composites, in-dustry consultant Gary E. Hansen of Salt Lake City said in prepared remarks presented May 8 at an engineering conference in Day-ton, Ohio.
Hansen represented the Arling-ton, Va.-based Suppliers of Advanced Composite Materials Association and noted, ``SACMA is willing to facilitate development of standards with input'' from members of the Washington-based Aerospace Industries Association.
Major AIA members such as Boeing Co., McDonnell Douglas Corp. and Lockheed Martin Corp. have customized specifications that they prefer not to share or modify.
``These proprietary standards differ from company to company and program to program,'' Han-sen said.
``We recommend use of non-government standards for composite materials,'' Hansen said, but ``SACMA must have AIA and government support'' to develop the standards.
``Lack of a standard poses a costly risk,'' he said, because ``end-users cannot compare materials head-to-head.''
They must spend excess time and money testing materials to common parameters and laboriously comparing various test methods and products.
Hansen said SACMA can provide the tools, but airframers ``must make it happen.'' SACMA's goal is to establish the standards within 18 months.
Until his retirement a year ago, Hansen was manager of technical services for the Magna, Utah-based composite products group of Hercules Inc.
The annual engineering day brought together technical representatives from the military, major defense contractors and their largest suppliers to discuss the impact of eliminating structural military specifications.
In a telephone interview, Walter B. Bergmann, chairman of the Defense Standards Improvement Council, said 2,676 milspecs and standards have been eliminated since Defense Secretary William Perry's June 1994 directive.
Perry said the military should use industrial specifications where possible and when the item is not truly unique to the military. Some 28,000 specifications remain under scrutiny. The review ends in 1999.
``Industry is accustomed to Defense setting specs and defining markets,'' Bergmann said. ``They need to set the standard.''
Milspecs have covered structural materials such as metals, graphite epoxy and thermoplastics and nonstructural items such as acrylics and sealants. Milspecs are ``de facto commercial specs as well as de facto international specs'' in AIA's opinion.