The winners of the annual Combined Strength, Unsurpassed Innovation CAMX Awards were announced at the CAMX 2016 General Session, and the prize-winning products hail from the fast-developing automotive and the architectural end-markets. The winner in the Combined Strength category was the “Multi- Material Decklid Concept,” submitted by Continental Structural Plastics (CSP, Auburn Hills, MI, US). The decklid, featuring a trademarked TCA Ultra Lite sheet molding compound (SMC) outer and a carbon fiber resin transfer molded (RTM) inner, weighs only 5.5 kg, representing a 13% weight savings over a similar aluminum decklid. When he received the award, CSP’s R&D director Mike Siwajek acknowledged that the material and process technologies in the decklid are not, technically, new, but emphasized that they have been combined in new ways to meet unique challenges. “By marrying all these technologies and making something old new again,” he contended, “we have a chance to really make an impact in the automotive industry.”
In the Unsurpassed Innovation category, the CAMX Award winner was “Fire-Resistant FRP Façade Cladding System for High-Rise Building,” submitted by Kreysler & Associates (American Canyon, CA, US). The cladding system, applied to the recent San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA, San Francisco, CA) expansion, marks the largest architectural use of fiber-reinforced plastic (FRP), to date, in a US building project. It required more than 700 panels, some as large as 1.5m wide by 9m long, totaling 7804m2 on a contoured 10-story façade, and was the first composite system to pass rigorous fire regulation testing for use above the fourth story.
Company president Bill Kreysler accepted the award but was quick to acknowledge his employees, who share the honor by having helped make the SFMOMA façade a reality. Kreysler also implored the audience to help accelerate composites development and application by getting involved with either ACMA or SAMPE. “You will make this organization stronger if you volunteer,” he said. “I always felt like I got more than I gave.”
In manufacturing and processing technologies, two technical presentations and a panel session featured out-of-autoclave (OOA) innovations — a relatively new trend with potential for aerospace-quality parts at lower cost. Demonstration of an inflatable, collapsible pressure intensifier for out-of-autoclave composite processing using BMI prepreg won an Outstanding Technical Paper Award. Steven Scarborough of ILC Dover (Frederica, DE, US) was the primary author and presenter; Steve Slaughter and Jason Varnum of Scaled Composites LLC (Mojave, CA, US) were co-authors.
ILC originally built the pressure intensifier for the US Department of Homeland Security as a 5.18m-diameter inflatable pressure tunnel for containing breathable air while sealed against poisonous gasses. Slaughter said he sees it, instead, as a big oven for curing composites. Scaled Composites has built all its aircraft without an autoclave — including the all-composite Voyager, which flew around the world nonstop in 1984, and SpaceShipOne, which won the Ansari XPRIZE in 2004.
Scaled fabricated 40.6-cm by 50.8-cm composite panels for cure at 15 psig pressure inside the pressure intensifier, using Toray T400-800 carbon fiber, with Solvay’s Cycom 5250-4HT BMI prepreg and AGY 6781 S2 fiberglass, with 5250-4 BMI prepreg systems. BMI resin was selected because it is more difficult to process by OOA than epoxy. The project produced an aerospace-grade laminate, i.e., <1% voids. Proposed applications include in-field aircraft repair and manufacture of wind blades.
Kara Storage, Air Force Research Laboratory (Wright-Patterson AFB, OH, US), moderated a Featured Session panel that considered OOA applications and their potential impact on growth. Panelists were Jim Martin (Globe Machine Manufacturing Co., Tacoma, WA, US); Randy Johnsen (Solvay Specialty Polymers, Tempe, AZ, US);
Doug Decker (Northrop Grumman, Falls Church, VA, US); Sean Johnson (TenCate Advanced Composites, Morgan Hill, CA, US); and Timotei Centea (M.C. Gill Composites Center, University of Southern California, San Diego, CA, US). Panelists agreed that new material systems need to be developed with good out-life and stability for OOA, and suitable for nondestructive inspection. Solvay and other suppliers are working on new resins and other materials targeted for OOA. OOA processes are seen as enablers for bonded structures, but some panelists suggested they might not be ready for large-aircraft manufacture.
Pilar Lopez (Airbus, Toulouse, France) presented her work in bonding primary and secondary structures on OOA bonded repairs for the A350 XWB. With a goal of certified OOA structural bonding repair solutions, she researched co-bonding possibilities using either dedicated repair materials or original product materials, with repair work done in portable cleanrooms or portable inflatable tent hangars. Two material grades have been qualified, and tests have shown that bonded repairs can be successful.