NASHVILLE, TENN. — Owens Corning introduced a new glass fiber and its top composites executive, Heinz-J. Otto, at the International Composites Exposition.
Owens Corning officials said the new glass fiber, Advantex, combines the electrical insulating and mechanical properties of E-glass, the current industry standard, with higher heat resistance and acid-corrosion resistance of E-CR glass.
The Toledo, Ohio, company also is touting its formulation without boron, which normally is used as a processing aid in making fibers. The boron-free formula minimizes air pollutants during the manufacturing process.
Owens Corning technical leaders are working to change standards, such as those from ASTM, that define types of reinforcing glass by composition because they specifically include the term boron. The company is pushing for a move to standards based on performance, not content.
Rhonda Brooks, vice president of marketing for composites, said Advantex gives Owens Corning a value-added glass product.
``We see the potential for it to replace, across the board, our E-glass and E-CR glass,'' Brooks said.
Several customers already have approved Advantex for use in composites products such as pipe, tanks, industrial yarns, marine and some hand-layup applications, Brooks said. Owens Corning will sell the product in continuous and chopped strands.
So far, Owens Corning has converted about 10 percent of its total glass-fiber capacity to Advantex, Brooks said. The company's Guelph, Ontario, factory is the only one fully converted to Advantex production. Facilities in Battice, Belgium, and L'Ardoise, France, have been converted partially. Customer demand will dictate the pace of conversion.
Owens Corning rolled out Advantex Jan. 29 during the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc.'s Composites Institute exposition in Nashville. It also marked the first Composites Institute show for Otto, who joined Owens Corning in late 1996 as president of the composites business.
As previously reported, Otto succeeds Efthimios Vidalis, who is now president of Owens Corning as insulation products for North America. Otto said sales from composites products accounts for $1.15 billion — slightly less than one-third of Owens Corning's total 1996 sales of $3.8 billion. He said the company wants composites to reach $2 billion in sales by the year 2000. Growth will come through new products, such as Advantex, new markets and applications, acquiring other companies and expanding into new regions of the world.
Otto said strong demand in 1994 and 1995 stretched thin the supply of glass fibers. Owens Corning added 110,000 tons of new production, but readjusted production as the composites industry cooled off in 1996.
He joined Owens Corning from Landis & Gyr Corp., a $2.5 billion supplier of building automation systems in Zug, Switzerland. He was head of the European region and an executive board member.
Prior to that, from 1974-91, he held management posts at General Electric Co., including work for GE Plastics in Europe, where he worked with Glen Hiner. Hiner headed GE Plastics before becoming Owens Corning's chairman and chief executive officer. Otto also served at GE Fanuc Automation Europe.
In other personnel news, Brooks is moving from the composites business to become vice president of investor relations.
At the Nashville show, Brooks said sheet molding compound continues to grow in automotive markets, dispelling the myth that SMC is economical vs. steel only for runs of 100,000 units or less. For example, she said, all Ford Motor Co. F-Series trucks — some 700,000 a year — now have SMC grill opening reinforcements.