Industry award winner Edgar E. Morris sees more market growth ahead in polymer matrix composites and the market niche of fiber-reinforced composite pressure vessels.
``Composites are continuing to replace metals at an accelerating rate due to benefits and features that have been proven,'' Morris observed. ``I expect the trend to continue.''
The innovative industry veteran was interviewed by telephone Dec. 2, soon after learning of his selection to receive the 1999 J.H. (Jud) Hall Composites Manufacturing Award. Morris is general manager of the Riverside, Calif., Composite Cylinder Division of Luxfer Gas Cylinders.
The Composites Manufacturing Association of the Dearborn, Mich.-based Society of Manufacturing Engineers annually presents the Hall award to an individual for professional contributions through leadership, technical developments, patents or educational activities. Morris is to receive the award Feb. 9 during CMA/SME's conference and exhibition in Anaheim, Calif.
Morris said federal regulatory changes opened the way for filament-wound carbon fiber's use in fire service breathing-air cylinders in early 1997 and commercial aircraft evacuation-slide-inflation cylinders in 1998. In comparable applications, carbon fiber weighs 20-33 percent less than aromatic polyamide aramid fiber or fiberglass and about two-thirds less than aluminum or steel.
Morris said 19 European countries have authorized carbon fiber cylinders for commercial uses since 1994, putting them ahead of actions by the U.S. Transportation Department's Research and Special Projects Administration. A typical cylinder has a 15-year service life.
Morris has influenced the design and manufacturing of pressure vessels for almost four decades, developing technology including filament winding for both the high-performance aerospace market and the high-volume low-cost commercial market.
Aerospace applications for military aircraft, space launch vehicles, and satellites ``rely greatly on the weight-saving advantages of composite pressure vessels for pressurant gas storage,'' he said.
Natural-gas-vehicle fuel tanks, self-contained-breathing-apparatus life-support units, medical and aircraft oxygen storage devices, aircraft evacuation systems, life rafts and paintball propellant containers form composite cylinders' biggest commercial markets, Morris said, with home-oxygen-therapy use ``continuing at a good rate.''
In 1971, Morris co-founded Structural Composites Industries of Pomona, Calif. In 1994, he joined Luxfer Gas Cylinders, a major manufacturer of high-pressure gas cylinders and a division of Manchester, England-based Luxfer Group Ltd.