CompositesManufacturing The Official Magazine of the American Composites Manufacturers Association Winter 2022 Advancing Technologies in Additive Manufacturing Our Annual State of the Industry Report Composites in Consumer Products
CompositesManufacturing The Official Magazine of the American Composites Manufacturers Association About the Cover: Nature Clouds, an installation of four hanging gardens, is displayed in the center hall of Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History. Branch Technology used robots to 3D print the exposed lattice structures with composite materials. Photo Credit: © Field Museum, Michelle Kuo Winter 2022 Features 6 4 23 Faster Prints, Lower Costs. ......................... 9 So far, additive manufacturing has primarily been used for prototypes, tooling and low-volume composite parts. But that soon may change. Emerging technologies enable competitively priced, large-scale 3D parts production. By Mary Lou Jay 2022 State of the Industry Report. ............ 15 Four industry consultants offer their outlook on composite materials and key markets in our annual State of the Industry Report. Continued Growth in Consumer Goods...... 23 Composites have moved from high-end applications into everyday items used by consumers, such as athletic shoes, appliances and phone cases. New sustainable technology could lead to even wider adoption of composites in the consumer goods market. By Mary Lou Jay Market Segments Aerospace. ................................................... 4 Digital Twins Marine........................................................... 6 GFRP Floating Docks Departments & Columns From the ACMA Chair.............................. 2 Tech Talk . ................................................... 3 Ad Index.................................................... 17 Legislative & Regulatory.......................... 26 Inside ACMA............................................ 28 Photo Credit: Orbital Composites Photo Credit: Bellingham Marine Photo credit: Dowty Propellers Photo Credit: Mast Elements
CompositesManufacturing 2 Last year certainly challenged manufacturers in all sectors, including composites. As the COVID-19 pandemic lingered, we faced unprecedented supply chain issues, cost escalations and workforce shortages. While it’s all too easy to get mired in these problems, it’s important for companies – and the composites industry as a whole – to put today’s concerns into a larger context. If we don’t look at the big picture, we run the risk of making bad decisions that appear to be correct in the moment yet put our businesses on unsustainable paths. That’s why industry forecasts, such as Composites Manufacturing’s annual State of the Industry Report on page 15, are so critical. In this year’s report, four consultants provide insight – and optimism – on materials and end-use markets. The information can help guide companies in 2022 and beyond. ACMA offers other market intelligence resources for members. The Lucintel Report is a monthly update of the global composites industry, with information on markets, new developments and product launches. Our Policy Spotlight e-newsletter provides detailed analysis and review of regulatory and legislative issues affecting the industry. In addition, through our membership in and established network of global trade associations, we stay on the pulse of market changes to keep our members up to date and informed on supply chain disruptions, global market shifts, regulatory issues, evolving materials, sustainability/net-zero standards and much more. Another obstacle to reaching our potential as an industry are the outdated regulations and standards that prevent the use of better solutions. ACMA is working hard to clear these and open up opportunities in new and existing markets, such as infrastructure, energy storage, alternative energy and advanced air mobility. In April, the association hosts its next Composites Technology Day, a four-day virtual event focused on advanced air mobility (AAM). Members have an exclusive opportunity to get their brands in front of OEMs and decision makers in the AAM community. This year, ACMA is building on momentum generated in 2021 when we returned to a successful in-person CAMX and welcomed our new president and CEO, Cindy L. Squires, Esq. Despite the current COVID-19 surge – and whatever new surge is yet to come – we are determined to return to our path in 2022. The association has a robust government relations effort and industry outreach program, but we need your help to bring our plans to fruition. As you look at where your company and the industry are headed, consider increasing your involvement in ACMA events, activities and committees. Together, we can look forward and grow composites. Sincerely, Fred Sanford ACMA Chairman of the Board firstname.lastname@example.org From the ACMA Chair Composites Manufacturing Official Magazine of the American Composites Manufacturers Association Publisher Cindy Squires email@example.com Editorial Managing Editor Susan Keen Flynn firstname.lastname@example.org Associate Director, Marketing Barry Black, II email@example.com Editorial Design & Production Innovative Association Solutions, LLC firstname.lastname@example.org ias-online.net Advertising Sales Manager of Business Development John Catapano email@example.com All reprint requests should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org Volume 38 | Number 1 | Winter 2022 American Composites Manufacturers Association 2000 N. 15th Street, Ste. 250 Arlington, VA 22201 Phone: 703-525-0511 Fax: 703-525-0743 email@example.com www.acmanet.org Composites Manufacturing (ISSN 1084-841X) is published bi-monthly by the American Composites Manufacturers Association (ACMA), ACMA Headquarters, 2000 N. 15th Street, Ste. 250, Arlington, VA 22201 USA. Subscription rates: Free for members and non-members in the U.S., Canada and Mexico; $55 for international non-members. A free online subscription is available at cmmagazineonline. org. Periodical postage paid at Arlington, VA and additional mail offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Composites Manufacturing, ACMA Headquarters, 2000 N. 15th Street, Ste. 250, Arlington, VA 22201. The magazine is mailed to ACMA members and is also available by subscription. Canada Agreement number: PM40063731 Return Undeliverable Canadian Addresses to: Station A, PO Box 54, Windsor, ON N9A 6J5, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Copyright© 2022 by ACMA. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reprinted without permission from the publisher. ACMA, a nonprofit organization representing the composites industry worldwide, publishes Composites Manufacturing, circulation 9,000, as a service to its members and other subscribers. Opinions or statements of authors and advertisers appearing in Composites Manufacturing are their own and don’t necessarily represent that of ACMA, its Board of Directors or its staff. Information is considered accurate at the time of publication, however accuracy is not warranted. Looking Forward, Growing Composites
www.acmanet.org 3 Safe Storage and Handling of Organic Peroxides By Peter Dluzneski, Ph.D. Organic peroxides are important tools for the composites industry. They can be used to make polymers (initiation), modify their rheological properties (visbreaking), alter polarity or attach pendant functional groups (grafting), and enhance high temperature performance (vulcanization). The utility of organic peroxides results from their ability to decompose and generate radicals when heated or promoted, but particular attention must be paid to ensure the safe storage and handling of these materials. Storage Guidance Guidance for the storage of organic peroxides is provided by the National Fire Protection Association’s Hazardous Materials Code (NFPA 400), as well as the International Fire Code. Organic peroxide formulations are differentiated into six classes (I, IIA, IIB, III, IV and V) according to their transportation type and available burn rate data. Of these, Class I has the most stringent storage requirements and allowed storage quantities. These codes also provide guidance on other safety aspects such as signage, fire extinguishing systems and storage arrangements. In general, organic peroxides should be stored away from incompatible materials and within the temperature range specified by the manufacturer. Handling Considerations Each organic peroxide formulation is unique in its specific hazards, but the four main hazards of organic peroxides are thermal instability, flammability, reactivity to contaminants and shock sensitivity. • Thermal instability is the property that makes these chemicals useful in the polymer industry because their decomposition yields radicals. If this decomposition occurs when the organic peroxide is in concentrated form a dangerous situation can result. The decomposition reaction is exothermic and can generate a large amount of heat. In addition, this decomposition may result in formation of lower molecular weight, flammable molecules. Vapors generated by peroxide decomposition could be vulnerable to ignition if an adequate energy source is available. A benchmark metric for comparing peroxide stability is the self-accelerating decomposition temperature (SADT). This is the temperature at or above which the peroxide will undergo a self-accelerating decomposition generating heat at a faster rate than can be dissipated from the container to the environment. The SADT is typically determined using one of four methods specified by the United Nations’ Manual of Tests and Criteria and is shown in Section 9 of the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for every organic peroxide. Although the SADT provides guidance on the minimum temperature that would present a safety hazard, the maximum storage temperature provides more practical guidance for storage of organic peroxide formulations. This temperature specifies the maximum temperature that a formulation should be stored to ensure both safety and product quality. The maximum storage temperature for a peroxide formulation is listed in Section 7 of the SDS and is considerably lower than the SADT. • Peroxide flammability is quantified by both the flash point and the burn rate of the formulation. Most organic peroxides have flash points above 100 F (38 C) so they are typically not readily ignitable. However, many organic peroxides burn at a faster rate than common flammable and combustible liquids. For some peroxide formulations the burn rate is more than an order of magnitude faster than that of gasoline, which could result in more extensive damage to a storage building if ignited. For this reason, proper procedures must be in place and followed to prevent ignition, and operators must not become complacent about peroxide hazards, even after years of incident-free peroxide use. Standards issued by the National Fire Protection Association provide detailed recommendations for preventing fires in composites manufacturing facilities. Resin spray operations are covered in NFPA 33 and combustible dust from grinding operations in NFPA 652. Standards are available at catalog.nfpa.org. • Contamination can also lead to incidents involving organic peroxides. Foreign materials like acids, bases, reducing agents and oxidizers – and common materials like metals and rust – can destabilize an organic peroxide so that it decomposes at temperatures at which it is normally stable. Organic peroxide users should refer to SDSs for the procedures that should be implemented to prevent contamination of organic peroxides by other substances and to quickly clean up spills of organic peroxides. Acidic absorbents should not be used for spill cleanup procedures. It is generally recommended that calcium carbonate be used as the absorbent for cleanup of organic peroxide spills. • Shock sensitivity applies only to a few organic peroxides. None are in common use in the composites industry. In conclusion, organic peroxides are important additives for the composites industry due to their unique reactivity. However, these chemicals also have distinct hazards that must be managed through proper storage and handling procedures to minimize risk. Technical personnel at most organic peroxide suppliers can help users identify the appropriate organic peroxides to meet their technical needs and provide guidance to enable safe storage and use. Peter Dluzneski, Ph.D., is a Senior Research Scientist at Arkema Inc. Email comments to email@example.com. Disclaimer: Opinions, statements and technical information within the Tech Talk column are that of the authors. ACMA and Arkema make no warranty of any kinds, expressed or implied, with respect to information in the column, including fitness for a particular purpose. Persons using the information within the column assume all risk and liability for any losses, damages, claims or expenses resulting from such use. Tech Talk
CompositesManufacturing 4 Aerospace When U.K.-based Dowty Propellers, a GE Aviation subsidiary, began exploring propulsion designs that could meet next-generation aircrafts’ needs, it soon became clear that manufacturing processes would have to advance as well. Through its four-year £20 million digital propulsion research and development program (DigiProp), funded in part by the U.K. government, the company pushed its propeller designs, materials and production processes in entirely new directions. Several market indicators guided DigiProp’s design direction. Among these was the disruptive movement away from larger aircraft to smaller air taxis intended for short distance travel. Allied Market Research has projected that the global air taxi market will grow from $817.5 million in 2021 to $6.63 billion by 2030, with a compound annual growth rate of 26.2%. The smaller size of air taxis provides greater opportunity for a shift to more sustainable electric vehicles, another critical market driver. However, this shift puts new structural and dynamic load demands upon propellers. With sustainability as another market driver, Jonathan Chestney, engineering leader for Dowty, says, “We recognize that we have to squeeze every fraction of a percentage point of efficiency out of our propellers because that directly drives fuel burn or, in all-electric aircraft, mission length and the ability to carry more weight.” In the past, Dowty might have pulled design inspiration from a tried and tested family of aerodynamic shapes due to the complexity of propellers. “A blade is not just about the shape of the airfoil as it moves up the blade,” says James Trevarthen, a senior composites engineer at Dowty. “You’ve got twists you must take into account, as well as the extent to which the blade might sweep forward and backward.” Even a slight change in shape or weight can have tremendous repercussions on structural requirements, among other factors. Managing these shifts and identifying which one can lead to desired performance improvements becomes exponentially simpler when working in a digital twin, a data-rich virtual representation of, in this case, an aircraft propulsion system. By converting to a digital twin process, Dowty can model performance of blade design and material options and simulate performance before the component is built. Simulation of varying shapes and materials allowed DigiProp to determine how to best meet the many competing aerodynamic requirements, as well as structural and dynamic loads while keeping the entire process cost effective. However, with the ability to simulate the performance of so many design possibilities, it became evident that new manufacturing processes would give Dowty the freedom to make the best solutions a reality. This drove the use of a digital twin into the factory environment. “We modeled everything, from machines and tools to people and Photo Credit: Dowty Propellers Digital Twin Drives Propeller Improvements By modeling design and material options using a digital twin, Dowty Propellers can simulate the structural performance of a propeller blade before the component is built.
www.acmanet.org 5 shifts, to make sure that we had the right mix,” says Simon Peckham, manufacturing engineering and training leader for Dowty. Modeling manufacturing processes allowed researchers to analyze a wide range of data to identify bottlenecks in staffing, machinery placement and process type to identify more efficient alternatives. Among other options, DigiProp determined that expanding into thermoplastic materials offered the opportunity for improvement. Dowty had previously manufactured blades with a blown thermoset foam core around which was added a dry fiber preform that consisted of hand layup carbon fabrics with biaxial fabric reinforcement. Through close collaboration with the National Composites Centre – one of three High Value Manufacturing Catapult centers that were critical collaborators on the program – DigiProp determined that thermoplastic part manufacturing could condense the cure process time to about five minutes. Compared to the four-hour process for a comparable thermoset epoxy resin component, this switch offered tremendous potential for high-volume cost savings. “Triaxial thermoplastics are a good option when we are looking at very high-volume potential markets, in lower thrust areas of the propeller market,” says Trevarthen in reference to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). Thermoplastics also allowed for removal of the foam core, improving fatigue life and reducing component weight. The recyclability of the material further hit the demand for more sustainable solutions. DigiProp developed a new manufacturing process that uses a combination of bladder molding and triaxial braiding of CFRP composites. The bladder system uses a wax mold coated with a silicone product, which together creates a rigid mandrel for overbraiding the material. The mandrel is designed to be easily removed from the mold, leaving the inflatable silicone bladder behind. This allows for the application of pressure internally to the composite preform. Dowty has made improvements to and automated many of its other manufacturing technologies as well, including blow molding capabilities for thermoset cores. The company has also worked with the Manufacturing Technology Centre, another catapult center, in the development of a process monitoring system for resin transfer molding to ensure the more complex geometries it is manufacturing will emerge from the press defect-free. By virtue of the digital twin, Dowty designers can easily align structural design tool sets with complementary manufacturing techniques. “Aligning [materials] with the structural performance and linking the loads that you get from an aerodynamic shape back into structural design is critical for us,” Peckham says. “We can come up with some really wacky shapes that might give us a little of an edge performance-wise, but if we can’t then relate that into a manufacturable product, then it’s not feasible to produce.” Trevarthen says the company can now deliver complex geometries while simultaneously achieving double-digit cost and throughput improvements. Dowty has developed six prototype propeller blades. Now that research through DigiProp is complete, the next step is to move these demonstration products into tests and designs for future aircraft. Megan Headley is a freelance writer in Fredericksburg, Va. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Photo Credit: Dowty Propellers Advanced air mobility represents the next frontier in transportation. Learn more and get in on the ground floor at ACMA’s Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) Composites Technology Days, held virtually April 12, 14, 19 and 21. The members-only event will cover AAM infrastructure design and structures, certification and materials, manufacturing and repair, and more. For more information or to register, visit acma. today/aamtechday. Make the Move into Advanced Air Mobility Through close collaboration with the U.K.’s National Composites Centre, the DigiProp research program led to development of a new manufacturing process that uses a combination of bladder molding and triaxial braiding of CFRP composites.
CompositesManufacturing 6 Marine Bellingham Marine, headquartered in Newport Beach, Calif., recently installed its first fully GFRPreinforced Unifloat® concrete dock system in a New Zealand marina. The docks, which feature GFRP thru-rods, rebar and beams, are lighter, stronger, easier to maintain and more environmentally friendly than steel and timber-reinforced ones. With an expected lifespan of 100 years or more, they also offer extreme durability. “Most floating docks use treated timber for the walers and steel bolts to hold them onto the floats, which are reinforced with steel rebar,” says Pete Renshaw, business development director at Pultron Composites Ltd. in Auckland, New Zealand. “All of these are subject to deterioration over time and limit the lifespan of the structure.” The dock system is the culmination of a decade-long collaboration between Bellingham Marine and Pultron Composites to replace timber and steel dock reinforcements with composites. The companies first tackled the thru-rods, which attach floating concrete sections to walers (structural beams mounted to the deck). To develop the thru-rods, which were introduced in 2015, Pultron relied on its experience producing GFRP rock bolts for tunnels and mine reinforcement and its work in the sports and recreation industry. “We knew that the tie rods would be subjected to constant wave movement affecting the dock system, so we used some of our know-how from [GFRP] trampoline rods that we developed, which have high flexural fatigue resistance,” says Renshaw. While the GFRP thru-rods have twice the tensile strength of steel, they have a low tensile modulus. This allows them to stretch and contract and maintain tension. “This has proven to be a big advantage as it saves a lot of maintenance,” says Renshaw. “As the timber dries, it can shrink enough for the steel bolts to become loose, but the extra stretch in the GFRP bolts accommodates this shrinkage so they do not come loose. Much less retightening is now required.” Pultron Composites pultrudes 20-millimeter-diameter thru-rods using corrosion-resistant ECR glass rovings and a proprietary resin system in lengths up to 12 meters. After fabrication, a purposebuilt CNC grinding machine turns the smooth rods into threaded bolts. “Rather than cutting the thread, as is normally done for steel bolts, our threads are ground into the surface using profiled diamond grinding wheels,” says Renshaw. The nuts are injection-molded from glass-filled nylon by Lane Plastics, another Auckland company. After developing thru-rods, Bellingham began efforts to replace the steel rebar in concrete floats with Mateenbar™, a GFRP rebar developed by Pultron and manufactured by Mateenbar Ltd. Although Mateenbar had been used in more than a thousand infrastructure projects, including roads, bridges, tunnels, seawalls and aluminum smelters, concrete floats were new territory. Consequently, Bellingham trialed them in marinas in Australia and Cyprus before introducing them commercially in 2018. The switch to Mateenbar increases float lifespan considerably. “The American Concrete Institute developed an accelerated test method to determine deterioration of GFRP rebar,” says Renshaw. “This test indicated that we should expect a strength retention of around 96% after 100 years.” At 25% the weight of traditional rebar, Mateenbar also reduces shipping costs and eases installation. The GFRP thru-rods and Mateenbar have been standard in Bellingham’s Unifloat concrete dock system in New Zealand for the past three years, including more than a dozen projects. Last year, Bellingham introduced the final GFRP reinforcement into its floating concrete Photo Credit: Bellingham Marine GFRP Takes Center Stage in Floating Docks Half Moon Bay Marina in Auckland, New Zealand, added 100 new berths and a fuel jetty made with the Unifloat® GFRP-reinforced concrete dock system.
www.acmanet.org 7 dock system – the waler. Traditionally built with treated timber, walers are mounted to the side of multiple concrete floats and fasten them together. Pultron manufactures the walers with a pultrusion process similar to thru-rod production. However, in addition to the ECR glass rovings and polyester resin, the waler has a continuous filament mat for transverse strength and a surface veil that provides a smooth finish and additional UV protection. Measuring 12 meters long and weighing 330 pounds, the waler is the largest, heaviest profile that Pultron has made. “This created some challenges. For example, the waler required so many rovings that we had to extend the roving bay, which feeds glass fibers into the pultrusion machines, making it both longer and taller to increase the capacity by 30%,” says Renshaw. Pultron also had to modify its handling processes. While other products could easily be moved by one or two people after production, the waler required installation of a moveable gantry. “When the factory was built over 35 years ago, the longest product that Pultron regularly made was much smaller,” says Renshaw. “Trying to maneuver a 12-meterlong waler weighing 150 kilograms around a factory that was never built for such large, heavy profiles is not easy.” Pultron is currently expanding its factory to increase capacity, improve efficiencies and allow for easier handling of such large sections. The first installation of the GFRPreinforced Unifloat concrete dock system added 100 new berths and a fuel jetty in Half Moon Bay Marina in Auckland. Bellingham will soon begin installation on the first Unifloat dock system in the United States to systematically refurbish and rearrange 2,400 traditionally reinforced berths in Dana Point Harbor, Calif., while the marina remains open. Sustainability was a selling point for the California marina. “FRP walers are considered to preserve water quality and ensure no treated timber [chemicals] leaches into the water,” says Chris Lamont, general manager of Bellingham Marine New Zealand. “Dana Point has large sea lion populations, and this was very important to the project to ensure that they and other marine life were not compromised.” Melissa O’Leary is a freelance writer in Cleveland. Email comments to melissa@ good4you.org. Crews install the Unifloat® concrete dock system. Unlimited Applications Unmatched Performance Is it possible to increase strength and stiffness while reducing weight and cost? With Vectorply composite reinforcement fabrics it is! Our wide range of fiberglass, carbon and aramid fabrics, combined with industryleading technical services and support can take your product higher, farther, and faster with less weight and labor. Giving your product the competitive edge is our business. Learn more at vectorply.com. 1-800-577-4521 | www.vectorply.com
The Leader in Additive Manufacturing thermwood www.thermwood.com 800-533-6901 Scan QR code to take a Video Tour of the LSAM MADE IN USA LSAM Project Manager, Scott Vaal, takes you on an informative tour of the Thermwood LSAM. A complete system that can both print to near net shape and then machine the print to its net shape. LSAM is by far the fastest way to 3D print large tools or parts.
www.acmanet.org 9 Additive manufacturing (AM) today is viewed by the composites industry primarily as a faster and lesscostly method of producing prototype and lowvolume composite parts. That perception is changing, however, as companies explore new techniques that will enable competitively priced 3D parts production on a much larger scale. The industry’s growing interest in AM stems in part from the increased availability of desktop and medium-sized industrial 3D printers, according to Rick Neff, an AM technical and marketing consultant. Companies are experimenting with these printers, which typically combine carbon, glass or even aramid fibers (and sometimes tapes) with thermoplastic or photo-cured polymers. At the same time, the technology for large-scale additive manufacturing (LSAM) has advanced. Thermwood Corporation, for example, has built upon the basic concepts of the Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) machine developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and private industry partners. Thermwood’s LSAM machines use a continuous cooling process to ensure each printed layer is at the optimal temperature to accept the next layer. This produces composite tools with vacuum integrity. “Other processes haven’t been good enough to create a tool without some sort of additional step to try to seal the tool or put a different surface on it that can hold a vacuum,” Neff explains. In 2014, BAAM’s largest printed part was six feet long, 20 feet wide and eight feet high; Thermwood’s 1540 LSAM machine can produce parts 40 feet long, 15 feet wide and five feet tall and at a much faster speed. That’s led to new opportunities in the fast production of larger tools for aerospace and marine manufacturers. “When we look at the cost of developing a prototype airplane, a large part of both the cost and the lead time can be attributed to tooling,” says Neff. “If it takes you months to get tools, it takes you months to build a plane. But if you can get tools in a week or two that revolutionizes the whole process of prototyping an airplane.” Neff also notes that materials suppliers have developed a wider range of products specifically designed for AM. A manufacturer using an injection molding process can tolerate material shrinkage, which makes it easier to remove a part from a mold. But manufacturers don’t want a printed part to shrink, so they add carbon fiber or glass fiber to lower the coefficient of thermal expansion by a factor of 10, or an order of magnitude. “When you print parts, the hot layer on top doesn’t shrink a lot and cause the part to warp and change its shape,” he says. Construction Applications Neff believes that advances in additive manufacturing, especially LSAM, will provide new opportunities in construction markets. While there’s a lot of hype around 3D printing concrete for buildings, he believes the real innovations – and the better economic proposition – is in printing composite forms for casting concrete. Architects have discovered the potential of employing 3D-printed composites to create unique shapes for artwork or for retail store displays and museum exhibits. One example is the Al Davis Memorial Torch at the Las Vegas Raiders’ stadium, created from 225 composite material blocks that were 3D-printed with carbon fiber. Architect Platt Boyd founded Branch Technology because he was frustrated with the constraints of traditional construction methods and materials. Inspired by natural forms and structures, Boyd found a way to incorporate those elements into buildings using the design freedom made possible by robotic, free-form 3D printing. Evolving technologies in additive manufacturing could lead to larger-scale production. By Mary Lou Jay Faster Prints, Lower Costs Startup shoe company Lore is using Orbital Composites’ additive manufacturing to print its LoreOne high-efficiency, carbon fiber shoes for bicyclists. Photo Credit: Drake Labs/Lore
CompositesManufacturing 10 “We have a proprietary extrusion mechanism and proprietary algorithms that guide the robot through the path,” says David Goodloe, Branch Technology’s program development manager. “The material actually solidifies in free space as extruded, allowing us to print as if the robot was a giant pen tracing a three-dimensional path through the air and leaving behind a reinforced polymer in its wake.” The result is volumetric lattice structures that have strength similar to comparable solid forms but use 20 times less material to build. If additional strength is needed in one area of the structure, the size of the honeycomb cells can be varied to increase the structure density in that location. Branch Technology works with a palette of materials that includes pelletized thermoplastic polymer resins with chopped carbon fiber and various additives. The company currently has 14 robots, 12 for printing and two for milling. “Each one has its own build envelope, so we upload a specific part to a specific robot, and it prints that part within its own designated work cell,” explains Goodloe. Although the robot can print parts 30 feet long, 10 feet wide and 12 feet high, most parts range around 15 x 8 x 8 feet. Goodloe notes the size of the composite parts is usually constrained by logistical choke points such as a doorway or a truck, not by the printing technology. Branch has three products. Branch Matrix™ is the exposed lattice structure of polymer resin and fiber additives. “It’s for architectural and sculptural applications – big, sweeping geometries,” says Goodloe. Nature Clouds, four giant hanging gardens in the center hall of Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History, were printed by the company. BranchClad™ is a mass-customized, ventilated rainscreen system and building skin that attaches to the structure of a building. Made with a lattice structure and a fire-rated, energyefficient infilling foam, it enables the construction of unique exteriors. For a bank in Chattanooga, Tenn., Branch manufactured BranchClad panels with a wave pattern reminiscent of the waves on the bank’s logo. The company is currently working on cladding for the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala., which will replicate the topology of the moon. In partnership with Sto Corp., a prefabricator of construction components, Branch recently introduced StoPanel® 3DP, which provides builders with a wall assembly fully finished on both the exterior and interior sides. Branch’s technology may be headed for space. The company is working with NASA to develop automated construction technologies for the moon and Mars. “The challenge is to print with in-situ materials to create habitats on these new worlds,” says Goodloe. A Lego® Model for AM The explosion of 3D-printed motor mounts for a drone launched Cole Nielsen, founder and CTO of Orbital Composites, on a quest to rethink additive manufacturing. To start, he spent 18 months studying every manufacturing method used today, with a special emphasis on advanced composites and sequential process compatibilities. Fundamentally, he found that carbon fiber, copper wires and electrically insulating polymers Photo Credit: Branch Technology Branch Technology uses robots to print its 3D lattice structures, which can be used as an architectural design element or infilled with foam to create exterior wall cladding. The pioneers in laser-assisted, thermoplastic production technology www.afpt.de
www.acmanet.org 11 could monolithically create most of a vehicle system for any environment, but only if fibers were placed independently and arbitrarily. The matrix-toreinforcement ratio would also need to be non-constant. Nielsen developed a new type of printer head, the coaxial extruder. A nozzle within a nozzle, it encases a filament, such as continuous carbon or glass fiber or copper wire, inside a tube of thermoplastic or thermoset resin. This technology permits the inclusion of a variety of materials in the printing process. For example, a fiber optic cable introduced in the inner nozzle can be placed in the desired location on the part while simultaneously being encased with glue to hold it in place. Nielsen also invented a high-force, high-pressure filament driver that enables faster printing and reduces filament failures. He notes that most failures in polymer extrusion printers are due to “snakebites” or filament drive failures. Orbital Composites doesn’t use Arris Composites’ Additive Molding™ technology isn’t 3D printing in the classic sense. “But the process is additive, because we are bringing subcomponents of different materials together to create a product,” says Riley Reese, the company’s CTO and cofounder. Additive Molding is an automated process that begins with a continuous dry fiber impregnated with thermoplastic resin to create a filamentous material. This material is then shaped, using Arris’ proprietary process, into a 3D form that will be a component of the final part. The continuous fibers, which can be carbon, glass or aramid, are aligned along principal stress vectors. The system then assembles the preformed shapes into a near net form that goes into the mold. Under the heat and pressure of the mold, the near net shape re-forms to the final part design. “We get a part that consistently meets expectations, and we also remove voids and porosity that would have existed without that molding step,” says Reese. “You also get incredible cosmetic surface finishes.” Additive Molding also enables parts consolidation, resulting in single, multifunctional structures. For the Skydio X2 drone airframe, for example, Arris combined what had been 17 parts into one lighter-weight component with improved performance. Skydio’s drone bracket made by Arris includes high-strength, stiff carbon fiber for the arms that hold and protect the optical equipment. The reinforcing carbon fibers at the ends of those arms are aligned to provide impact resistance. Glass fibers in the area around the drones’ GPS electronics create RFtransparent windows for unobstructed communication. The molding process enables Arris to provide both matte and glossy Class A surface finishes without the need for post-processing, Reese says. Skydio had originally used 3D-printed titanium for its airframe. Replacing it with a consolidated composite frame provided the same stiffness and strength with an 80% reduction in weight. With Additive Molding, Arris can reduce wall thicknesses in a composite part down to .25 millimeters, which opens up market opportunities in consumer electronics and consumer goods. “Anything you want to carry around – your phone, a watch, sunglasses – all of these products can benefit from thinner and thinner walls that are structural,” Reese says. The process also enables the embedding of other functional components, such as a wireless charging coil, into structures like a cell phone case without added thickness. The process of Additive Molding enables a production scale that 3D printing can’t match. “With a mold and a tool, we can get incredibly high volumes as well as a high level of repeatability and consistency,” says Reese. “Both of those things are challenges in the 3D printing world.” An Additive Manufacturing Variation Orbital Composites’ additive manufacturing system features a nozzle within a nozzle, a unique arrangement that enables the encasement of a filament like carbon fiber or copper wire inside a thermoplastic resin. Photo Credit: Orbital Composites
CompositesManufacturing 12 a conventional 3D printer with a gantry. Instead, the system employs single and multi-robot setups, with smaller robots stacked on top of larger robots. Their different end effectors perform specific tasks, such as printing and pre- or post-processing. The robots can work together in overlapping motion spheres, speeding production. They can easily print onto curved shapes and, unlike 3D printing systems that use gantries, the robots can manufacture products nine times their size. If a robot breaks down during the manufacturing process, another can take its place. “The robots can fail, or they come and go, but the object remains in the manufacturing process,” Nielsen says. The company designs each printer setup around the product it’s producing. Nielsen likens it to putting together different Lego blocks to achieve a desired shape. While this hardware is important, it’s only part of the story. “Fifty percent and maybe even more of our engineering effort is software. One of the ways that we use brute-force machine learning is to try to figure out how the robot needs to move to finish the print – literally how many different ways you can try to get through the maze,” Nielsen explains. Affordable, High-Volume Production Although Orbital Composites can print high-tech products like satellite parts or antennas, one of its first customers is Lore, which offers custom-printed carbon shoes for bicyclists. Lore asserts that its shoes, which cost $1,900 a pair, will optimize a rider’s watt output and pedaling efficiency. Using an iPhone app, customers scan their feet and send the measurements to the company, which uses Orbital Composites’ technology to print the shoes. Lore emphasizes the sustainability of its product. Their shoes are made from recyclable thermoplastics, and the printing process virtually eliminates waste. “The shoes have demonstrated that Orbital Composites can cost-effectively manufacture a product using 12-axis, advanced thermoplastic, continuous fiber printing,” Nielsen says. Taking advantage of this technology, the company plans to manufacture and sell its own line of drones soon. In addition, Orbital Composites is currently working on a project with the Department of Energy, ORNL and the University of Maine to 3D-print a wind turbine blade with continuous fiber. The goal is to demonstrate the feasibility of printing wind blades on site. Another project with ORNL involves the development of additive manufacturing compression molding (AMCM). “This particular machine is designed to produce thermoplastic continuous fiber and components with aerospace quality at the automotive price and production rate, with automotive production reliability and a Class A surface finish directly out of the machine,” says Amolak Badesha, Orbital Composites’ CEO. “There’s no material waste because the AMCM system prints the net weight and net shape of the part.” Badesha says that injection molding results in 10% waste, compression molding in 20% waste and sheet metal stamping in 55% waste. For the Tennessee Valley Credit Union, Branch Technology manufactured cladding panels with curved forms that echo the waves on the financial institution’s logo. Photo Credit: Branch Technology +1.775.827.6568 www.abaris.com Onsite & Consultation Services Available Adhesive Bonding, Mold Fabrication, Resin Infusion, Windblade Repair Members receive a $200.00 discount Use Code: ACMA200 at checkout Advanced Composite Manufacturing Training
www.acmanet.org 13 “It’s really applicable to both car and airplane parts, and makes continuous fiber parts cheaper than sheet metal,” he adds. “That’s a first.” Advances in Thermoset AM From its founding in 2013, Massivit 3D has been focused on faster and more cost-effective manufacturing with large-scale 3D printing. Its printing system is unique; it uses a printing gel based on thermoset photopolymer resins. “Most AM tooling systems for composite materials rely on a layering mechanism that utilizes thermoplastic materials,” says Ido Eylon, vice president of global sales and marketing. “This layering process causes uneven molecular bonds to form during the build process.” The Massivit 10000, which will be commercially available in March, introduces the first isotropic 3D-printed mold to the composite manufacturing arena, according to the company. Leveraging a proprietary thermoset casting material, the technology allows for consistent and low thermal expansion at elevated temperatures, as well as high thermal stability up to 150 C. The Massivit 10000, which won an Award for Composite Excellence at CAMX 2021, features a cast-in-motion technology. The printing head uses a rapid, UV-curing polymer to form two outer sacrificial walls, each about 3.6 millimeters thick. The casting head follows depositing an epoxy-based resin composite between those two walls, forming an isotropic core. The printer builds up the mold layer-by-layer until the desired size and shape are achieved. (The maximum size is 56 inches wide, 59 inches high and 44 inches deep.) The hardened printed part, with the sacrificial walls still attached, can be post cured for a few hours to improve the mechanical properties at elevated temperatures, then immersed in water, where the outer walls flake off. (The flakes can be removed from the water, and the water reused.) The mold that comes out of the water is near net shape. The mold surface may require post finishing. The process reduces the 19 steps typically required for mold production to just four, so companies using Massivit’s 3D printers will have their molds in less than a week rather than several weeks. Some projects have been printed on the Massivit 10000, including a complex mold for a racing car seat. But there are many other potential applications. “All manner of tools and mandrels can be digitally produced for the transportation, home refurbishment, sports and aerospace industries,” says Eylon. As additive manufacturing technology matures, companies will continue to find new and better ways to employ 3D printing on its own or in conjunction with other composite manufacturing techniques. The result should be faster, better and more costeffective production methods that will provide the composites industry a competitive advantage in many markets. Mary Lou Jay is a freelance writer based in Timonium, Md. Email comments to email@example.com. Your Performance - Made by Roth Roth Composite Machinery 1 General Motors Drive . Syracuse, New York 13206 Joe Jansen - National Sales Manager . Phone +1 715 680 8008 . firstname.lastname@example.org www.roth-composite-machinery.com . email@example.com WORLD CLASS Composite Machinery • 50 years experience • 30 years automation successfully implemented in large-scale production operations • Standards setting by customers solutions FILAMENT WINDING PREPREG
CompositesManufacturing 14 www.theCAMX.org/call-for-abstracts Powered by Official Media Partners PLAN NOW TO ATTEND Abstract submissions are open now through March 2022. Save the Date CAMX 2022 RETURNS TO ANAHEIM, CA 2022 OCTOBER 17-20 Anaheim Convention Center
www.acmanet.org 15 State of the Industry REPORT What’s in store for the composites industry as the pandemic enters its third year and supply chain issues persist?
CompositesManufacturing 16 The Automotive Market By Marc Benevento, President Industrial Market Insight Last year will be remembered for the promise of a strong recovery of automotive production followed by the disappointment of supply chain disruptions that suppressed year-over-year growth. However, brighter days are ahead for suppliers to the industry as production is expected to recover to pre-pandemic levels over the next 24 months. Furthermore, the continued shift toward electric vehicles will favor increasing use of composite materials in the automotive industry. The global market for light vehicle composite materials was 3.7 billion pounds in 2021, far short of where it was just a few years ago. Global light vehicle production plummeted 16% in 2020 due to COVID-19 shutdowns, and demand recovered more quickly than a stressed supply chain could support. After a strong start to 2021, global production gained a paltry 2% over a disastrous 2020, leaving automotive composites consumption 20% below the pre-pandemic level. Despite the difficulties of the past two years, better times are ahead for suppliers of automotive composites. Demand for automobiles remains strong, particularly in North America. Supply chain constraints are expected to ease over the course of 2022, and production should return to pre-pandemic levels by late 2023 or early 2024. Suppliers that have weathered the storms of the past two years have reason to hope that the next two years will present a more hospitable business environment, with 8 to 10% annual volume growth expected in that timeframe. In addition to the tailwind of market recovery, composites continue to win automotive applications based on the value they provide carmakers in terms of cost, weight and performance. Electric vehicles are particularly well suited to composites due to their low under hood temperatures and the position they currently occupy in the market, which will expand the available market for manufacturers of composite materials in automobiles. Elimination of the internal combustion engine and exhaust system will significantly lower the operating temperature requirement of many automotive parts, creating new opportunities for composites. Battery covers and enclosures are a perfect fit for composites due to their high strength-toweight ratio, corrosion resistance, design flexibility and part consolidation opportunities versus stamped metal assemblies. Challenging new fire-resistance standards for electric vehicle components can be met with the selection of an appropriate resin system or with the addition of intumescent coatings. The current market position of electric vehicles also favors growth of composite materials. Because today’s batteries cost more than an equivalent gasoline engine, electric vehicles occupy a premium position in the market. The high selling price of these vehicles limits sales volume, however, which generally favors composites. As production volume decreases, the fixed cost of dies for steel or aluminum stampings becomes a larger part of the unit part cost, which improves the economics of composites for As the new year began and the Omicron variant of COVID-19 led to a surge in cases, a sense of deja vu permeated the business landscape. But economists say there is reason for optimism in 2022. In its annual report condensing key viewpoints from dozens of investment outlooks, Bloomberg News forecast that the global economy will grow by 4.5% this year. Composites Manufacturing magazine caught up with four consultants to shine a spotlight on three key market segments in the composites industry and provide predictions on glass and carbon fiber. Source: Industrial Market Insight Figure 1: Light Vehicle Production & Automotive Composite Outlook
www.acmanet.org 17 2022 State of the Industry applications such as closure panels and truck beds. This trend will continue for at least the first half of the decade, after which battery costs are expected to be nearly on par with internal combustion engines. The growth trajectory of automotive composites is illustrated by indexing vehicle production and automotive composites volume to a base year of 2017 and projecting demand through 2025. Should composites continue to grow above the market, as they have for the past decade, automotive composite volume will eclipse the base year a full year earlier than light vehicle production. The Glass Fiber Market By Dr. Sanjay Mazumdar, CEO Lucintel More than two years since the COVID-19 outbreak, the pandemic’s effect lingers on manufacturing operations across industries. The entire supply chain has been disrupted, and the glass fiber industry is no exception. Factors including shipping delays, increases in ocean freight and container cost, decreased Chinese exports and customer demand have led to shortages of composite raw materials, such as glass fiber and epoxy and polyester resin in North America. Even with supply chain issues, the U.S. glass fiber market grew 10.8% in 2021, with demand increasing to 2.7 billion pounds compared to 2.5 billion pounds in 2020. Construction, pipe and tank, electrical and electronics, wind energy, consumer goods and marine applications experienced significant growth, while the aerospace market declined in 2021. The U.S. glass fiber industry benefitted considerably from growth in the wind energy industry in 2021 due to a rush to get construction started in time to qualify for the production tax credit (PTC) before its expiration at the end of the year. As part of the COVID relief packages, the U.S. government extended the PTC to 60% of the full credit amount for wind projects that began construction by Dec. 31, 2021. Lucintel estimated 8% growth in the U.S. wind energy market in 2021 after double digit growth in 2020. The marine market also grew during the pandemic as consumers sought safe, socially distanced leisure activities in the outdoors. The U.S. glass fiber market for marine was estimated to grow by 18% in 2021. In terms of supply and demand dynamics in the glass fiber industry, the utilization rate increased to 91% in 2021 from 85% in 2020 due to growth in consumption of glass fiber in all end use industries. The global glass fiber capacity was 12.9 billion pounds in 2021. Lucintel predicts that the fiberglass plant capacity utilization rate in 2022 will reach 95%. In the next 15 to 20 years, there will be substantial innovation in the glass fiber industry, particularly in the development of high-strength and high-modulus glass fiber, which competes with other high-performance fibers like carbon fiber. Two mega trends across market segments that will lead to further innovations are light-weighting and carbon dioxide reduction. For example, light weight solutions are increasingly important in the wind energy market thanks to the rising number of offshore wind turbines, repowering of old turbines and growing installations with high turbine capacity in locations that receive high-speed wind. Throughout the market, the average size of wind turbines continues to grow, which results in a need for larger and stronger blades. This, in turn, creates demand for lighter, stronger material. Several companies, including Owens Corning and Jushi, have developed high-modulus glass fiber to meet market demand. While GFRP composites are a staple in the marine industry, new technologies are changing the face of this market. Moi Composites, which developed an advanced 3D technology, has produced the MAMBO (Motor Additive Manufacturing Boat). The 3D-printed 6.5-meter power boat, made from continuous glass fiber-reinforced thermoset composites, has no hull-deck division and employs concave and convex shapes not possible with traditional composite fabrication. The marine industry has also taken steps toward greater sustainability. RS Electric Boats developed the first all-electric rigid inflatable boat (RIB) incorporating fiberglass and recycled carbon fiber in major structural components. In conclusion, the use of glass fiber in various industries is expected to recover from the deleterious effects of the pandemic. Transportation, construction, pipe and tank, and the marine Source: Lucintel Figure 2: Global Glass Fiber Demand and Capacity from 2016 to 2021 Shipment in Billion Pounds