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SPI: composites to hold firm in '91.

Higher gasoline prices and implementation of new Clean Air Amendments are expected to increase the use of composites this year in such applications as cars, trucks, and pollution control equipment, according to William Holtzclaw, chairman of the SPI Composites Institute's board of directors. Holtzclaw made the announcement during a statistical briefing at the 46th Annual SPI Composites Institute's Conference and Expo '91, held February 18-21 at the Convention Center in Washington, D.C. The conference featured the presentation of some 100 technical papers, a trade show (Expo 91) comprising approximately 95 exhibitors, and the presentation of Product Awards honoring new commercial applications of composites materials.

At the briefing, Holtzclaw reported that strong performance in the consumer products, corrosion-resistant, electrical, and transportation markets made 1990 a growth year for composites shipments, which increased 1.3% over 1989 shipments to a total of 2.57 billion lbs (see the Table). However, because of a continuing economic recession and the war in the Persian Gulf, SPI does not expect to see significant growth in shipments for 1991, Holtzclaw said.

According to Holtzclaw, the corrosion resistance and low cost of composites will favor expansion of their use in the field of pollution control equipment. Other applications in the market of corrosion-resistant equipment include pipes, tanks, walkways, and handrails, he said.

The wealth of automotive applications on display at Expo '91 showed why the transportation market attracts the largest volume of shipments in the composites industry (705 million lbs in 1990). As gasoline prices rise, high strength-to-weight ratios are expected to sustain the increased use of composites for such applications as auto body panels, heavy truck hoods, and structural components.

Among the products exhibited were the Cadillac Allante Soft Top Cover, molded for Gm's Cadillac Motor Car Division by Molded Fiber Glass Co. (Union City, Pa.), and American Cyanamid Co.'s Cyglas composite valve cover, which took top honors in the transportation category.

The Awards Luncheon featured the presentation of a number of special awards. Among the winners:

Goldsworthy Engineering Division of Alcoa Composites, Inc., won the conference's 1991 "Counterpoise" Grand Design Award for its S.M.A.R.T. CAR Auto Hauler. The Auto Hauler consists of six fiberglass/polyester containers for Union Pacific Railroad's Secured Modular Automotive Rail Transport (S.M.A.R.T) CAR; it is said to be the first railway container made from pultruded profiles. Assembled by adhesive bonding and mechanical fastening, the containers are light transparent and UV- and moisture-resistant.

Compositech, Inc., won the Most Innovative Advanced Composite Application Award for its Zipp 2001 Bicycle Frame, a two-piece post bonded structure. Composed of unidirectional prepreg carbon fiber tape with a Nomex honeycomb core, the frame weighs 1.8 lbs and is reported to withstand temperatures below 0[deg.]F and as high as 250[deg.]F The production version will be a one-piece molded construction with a fiber-to-resin ratio of 64 to 36 by weight.

The Walter A. Szymanski Award, for the best corrosion-resistant product, was presented to Creative Pultrusions, Inc., for its "Unilite" Fiberglass Cooling Tower. The structure is made of Class I flame spread polyester or vinyl ester resin that is reinforced with fiberglass continuous strand mat and unidirectional roving.

The winner of the Best Overall Paper Award was "An Experimental Study of Compaction and Internal Die Pressure Forces Generated by Reinforcing Materials During Pultrusion," by Young Roak Kim and Stephen P McCarthy of the University of Lowell, and Jerome P. Fanucci and Stephen C. Nolet, American Composite Technology.

More than 2600 people attended the Conference and Expo '91.
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Title Annotation:Plastics News Supplement; report from Society of Plastics Industry conference
Author:Shortt, M.W.
Publication:Plastics Engineering
Date:Mar 1, 1991
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