Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Composite material earmarks?

Currently there is a $533 Billion dollar defense bill working its way through Washington. With defense being one of the brightest spots in the composite industry, it will be interesting to see where the money goes, and if any will fall with composite companies.

South Carolina's "The State" recently published an article, stating that approximately $200 million of this bill will be sent to their southern state. Of that:

- $3.3 million is set aside for AGY Holding Corp. of Aiken, SC for development of glass fiber ballistic armor

- $4 million is earmarked for Defense CS of Bamberg County, SC for development of antiballistic windshield armor

- $1.6 million is marked for Clemson University for purchase of microscopes and equipment to develop materials that will protect optical sensors on U.S. Navy ships and submarines

Although South Carolina has a strong presence in composites, in particular fibers, textiles, and fabrics, it is my guess that there will be a decent amount set aside for composite material companies.

Composite armor and UAVs are my guess to be the biggest winners...

Photo Credit: Tracy O via flicker

Monday, June 22, 2009

Boeing Workers - Playing with Composite Materials

As colleges attempt to prepare students for real world jobs in growing industries, many schools are now offering courses in renewable energy, turbine blade manufacturing, and composite materials.

It is interesting to hear that Edmonds Community College in the Everett, Washington area is offering multiple composite material construction classes. In one such class, students have the opportunity to construct a composite snowboard by hand. Ironically, many Boeing workers, some of which work on the new 787 Dreamliner, are enrolled in this composite course.

Feeling a touch of envy, I checked with my local higher education institutions to find zero oportunties for similar composite material related courses. This is surprising, as the San Diego has 3 large Universities (UCSD, USD, & SDSU) and multiple community colleges.

Colleges around the country should take note, as composite manufacturing skills are increasing in demand. (I am guessing there are a few job searching art history and communcation majors wishing they took these courses)

Read the article: HearldNet

Photo Credit: Forcefeed

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Composite Materials - Getting help from Wolfram Alpha

You all have probably had a chance to play around with Wolfram Alpha, if not, I suggest you do.

Basically, this is a search engine that can help you answer some questions. For those who work with composite materials, this can be a handy tool.

Check out the site and do some searches of your own... Or here are some samplecomposite materials related searches I did that you can look at:

Carbon fiber tensile strength

Youngs modulus

Boeing 747

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Composite Materials might be blamed for Air France crash

I recently read an article by the Boston Globe discussing the recent crash of Air France flight AF 447. This article (by a Globe staff writer, not an aviation professional or an engineer) is attempting to solve a plan crash that happened in 2001, suggesting composite materials may be to blame for that crash, and furthermore, may be to blame for the recent Air France Airbus crash. (Sites no sources)

Composite materials are helping the avaition industry save fuel, and this is directly effecting passengers and the enviroment. Articles such as this delay the general public acceptence of composites at an ever important time. The weight saving advantages of composite materials is slowly finding acceptence in automotive and rail. Some of the worlds brightest engineers design, test, and re-test composite components to an extreme.

Fear helps sell newspapers, and that is exactly what this author was trying to install.

Read for your self: Boston Globe

Photo Credit: oneras

Friday, June 5, 2009

Composites in the Sporting Goods

Since the introduction of composite materials, recreational sports has often taken the lead in advancing the material usage. Golf club shafts were one of the first to take advantage of the lightweight benefits of carbon fiber, sail and surfboards were some of the first to utilize composite sandwich structures, snow sports have created some of the best tooling in the industry, and biking continues to push the limits of weight reduction.

The steel in bicycle frames was slowly replaced by lightweight aluminum alloys, more recently, carbon fiber has been used to achieve the needed stiffness of the bike frame but eliminate weight. Now a days, carbon fiber alone is not light enough, designers using some of the most advanced computer modeling software available are reducing the amount of carbon needed, while using aerospace-grade prepregs and expensive autoclaves.

Pushing the envelope further and further, leading bicycle companies are integerating carbon fiber and creating processes and technology that should really be examined by leading aerospace and defense companies.

In this article, the bike wheel company Zipp is discussed. Having never even heard of Zipp I find it interesting how such a small niche company is really a leader in composite processing. If this company wanted, they could probably exhibit at the JEC composites show, and license their technology for drilling the tiny holes in the wheels for spokes...

PhotoCredit: BrandontheMandon