Editor's Memo: Composite Growth

February 1, 2012
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The use of composites as a substitute for steel and other heavy materials has skyrocketed in multiple markets. In the automotive industry, for example, lightweight composite materials are helping provide what represents the Holy Grail for those manufacturers: reduced fuel consumption. In fact, according to BCC Research, “an estimated 75% of the average motor vehicle’s fuel consumption is directly related to factors associated with vehicle weight.”*

The composites sector offers multiple benefits for adhesives manufacturers. “As various materials interface, traditional joining technologies aren’t always sufficient under the required performance extremes,” writes Dow Automotive Systems’ Frank Billotto in this issue. “Adhesives, however, are being formulated to accommodate the bonding of these diverse, dissimilar substrates…” Read “Next-Generation Composite Adhesives” to learn more.

According to Brandon Willis of Uniseal, Inc., “With many of these substrates, mechanical fasteners have been abandoned in favor of adhesives, which provide a two-fold advantage. First, they provide a process and design flexibility that mechanical fasteners simply do not. Second, the adhesives themselves are lighter in weight than mechanical fasteners such as rivets, especially in large-quantity uses such as trailer sidewalls.” Willis discusses “Composite Challenges” on pp. 17-19.

Safety is a vital concern in aviation, and adhesives manufacturers are supporting the industry with flame-retardant materials. Regulatory inconsistencies are a problem, however, and a Flammability Task Group has been formed to work with the Federal Aviation Administration. Todd Holder of Huntsman Advanced Materials provides details regarding “Measuring and Regulating Flammability.”

The American Composites Manufacturers Association’s annual COMPOSITES 2012 Exhibition and Convention will be held this month in Las Vegas. (Our pre-event guide can be found on pp. 23-24 of this issue.) I’m looking forward to seeing the many new materials, technologies and opportunities that the composites sector has to offer. Hope to see you there!

*Lightweight Materials in Transportation,

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