Plastics News correspondent Roger Renstrom gathered these items during SAMPE 2004, held May 16-19 in Long Beach, Calif.
Lockheed materials lighter for fighters
Wanting lightness, F-35 Joint Strike Fighter developers are focusing on weight reduction and substitute materials to accommodate more systems and payload.
Weight challenges prompted material reaassesment for the three F-35 variants. Typically, JSF creators use low-risk materials and processes and avoid unproven, cutting edge ones, said Michael Fortson, a director and JSF air product team lead at Lockheed's aeronautics segment in Fort Worth, Texas. Northrop Grumman Corp. of Los Angeles and BAE Systems of Farnborough, England, are other partners.
Early designs used graphite epoxy and fiberglass and graphite bismaleimide for portions of the low-observable structure.
Fortson said he dislikes polyimides after an unfavorable experience relating to material handling and processing.
Pending changes, the three F-35 weights range from 26,171 pounds to 30,049 pounds. First flight is planned for the fall of 2005 and production in early 2007.
Blue Bird battery box uses low-shrink resin
Picken's Plastics Inc. of Jefferson, Ohio, uses a new low-shrink resin in ``light'' resin transfer molding of a fiberglass-reinforced battery box for the Wanderlodge motor coaches of Blue Bird Corp. of Fort Valley, Ga. Picken's started production for the Henlys Group plc subsidiary in March.
``Nobody else in the United States is using that material as of today,'' Fritz Marinko, vice president of sales and marketing with Picken's, said at the firm's SAMPE exhibit. ``We are using that [material] on everything from battery boxes to the skins on the sides of buses. We are able to eliminate the shrink and warp and curvature that you see in a typical fiberglass part.''
Recently, Picken's added 55,000 square feet to its Jefferson plant for a total of 165,000 square feet. Picken's employs a total of 190.
Cytec offers system for resin infusion
A resin infusion materials system for composite parts is being considered for applications on commercial aircraft programs in North America, the Pacific Rim and Europe, said Patricia Harrison, director of marketing and business development with Cytec Engineered Materials Inc. in Tempe, Ariz., a unit of Cytec Industries Inc.
``Cytec has the first commercially available toughened RTM system for primary structures.''
Cytec and Fischer Advanced Composites Components AB of Ried, Austria, have moved the system toward qualification for the Airbus A330 and A340 spoiler center fitting for replacement of a stressed aluminum part.
The system won a 2004 innovation award in JEC's air transport category.
NanoSperse touting carbon nanoelement
NanoSperse LLC of Akron, Ohio, is shipping carbon nanoelement concentrates for commercial use with aromatic polyether-based thermoplastic urethane and a variety of thermoset resins. The firm is developing other nanocomposite concentrates.
``A tremendous amount of work is going on in thermoplastic urethane,'' Arthur Fritts, president, said at SAMPE 2004.
Applied Sciences Inc. of Cedarville, Ohio, makes Pyrograf-III carbon nanofibers for NanoSperse's new line of pre-dispersed nanocomposite concentrates.
NanoSperse uses the services of a Dayton, Ohio, contract manufacturer and intends by late 2004 to lease time and scale up production at a University of Dayton Research Institute facility being constructed under an Ohio-funded $1.2 million initiative.
Fritts formed NanoSperse in late 2003. In January, the firm exclusively licensed UDRI nanocomposite dispersion technology that the Air Force Research Laboratory and UDRI jointly developed.
Zoltek sees increase in carbon fiber sales
Zoltek Cos. Inc. of St. Louis. is reactivating its available carbon fiber capacity in Abilene, Texas, starting in June.
Zoltek said its sales of carbon fibers increased $1.7 million or 55 percent for the quarter ended March 31 vs. fiscal 2003's comparable quarter.
``The divergence of the aerospace carbon fibers market from the commercial carbon fiber market is happening a few years later than we expected,'' Zsolt Rumy, Zoltek's chairman, president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. ``But demand for lower-cost carbon fibers geared to high-volume commercial applications outside of aerospace finally is reflecting strong growth fundamentals.''
SAMPE awarded its highest honor, the George Lubin Award, to Thaddeus Sandford, who retired in April as vice president of engineering with the integrated defense systems unit of Boeing Co. in Seal Beach, Calif. ... SAMPE inducted four Fellows: James Harvey, president of Under-the-Bridge Consulting Inc. of Corvallis, Ore.; Jude Iroh, professor of material sciences and engineering at the University of Cincinnati in Cincinnati; Jesa Kreiner, professor and engineering division chair at California State Univerversity at Fullerton; and Pamela Strong, principal engineer for B-1B structures and flight services with the integrated defense systems unit of Boeing in Long Beach, Calif. ... SAMPE selected a technical paper by Felix Paulauskas and Joseph Spruiell as 2004's most outstanding among 354 published papers. Paulauskas, technical team leader for carbon fibers at Oak Ridge (Tenn.) National Laboratory, and Spruiell, professor of material science and engineering at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, wrote about the structures and properties of carbon fibers produced using microwave-assisted plasma technology. A three-person team from Boeing's phantom works in Seattle took second place for a paper on the application of stress waves to bond inspection. A team from Canada's McGill University in Montreal and the National Research Council in Ottawa took third place for a paper about in-situ monitoring of residual stress development during e-beam processing.