France-based JEC Group, the world’s largest organization exclusively dedicated to the composites industry, has announced the ten winners of its 2014 JEC Americas Innovation Awards program, which highlights the most pivotal advances in composites design, manufacturing and application.
Raw Materials Category Winner: TSE Industries, a U.S.-based material supplier, for its TSE-EcoSpray 550 polyurethane resin for bathtub and spa components. The resin eliminates offensive styrene smells, and potential hazards typically associated with styrene polyester resins in manufactured products. The resin doesn’t foam in high humidity and doesn’t compromise physical and mechanical properties.
Reinforcements Category Winner: Germany-based Stäubli GmbH for the ALPHA 500 TECH weaving loom for the production of either flat or multilayer weaves of fibre-reinforced plastics.
Software Category Winner: U.S.-based software provider Plataine Technologies for its Total Production Optimization (TPO) management software, which is meant to bridge gaps between CAD and ERP software. “The TPO system automatically considers all production process factors at once, including customer orders, materials available from the inventory system and product design from the CAD system,” JEC said. “From this, it generates a complete – ready to cut – production plan.”
Processing Category Winner: Germany-based EADS won for its fibre patch preform (FPP) process that combines a material supply unit, a pick-and-place robot, and a tool manipulation robot for the production of complex, lightweight, and cost-efficient carbon-fibre reinforced plastic products.
Automation Category Winner: Technische Universität Braunschweig, headquartered in Germany, won for its “FormHand” form-flexible preform-end-effector. Designed to close the gap between the currently implemented manual preforming and the challenges of automated high-volume production of fibre-reinforced plastics, the FormHand allows specific forming or draping of fibre-composite textile into a mold.
Automotive Category Winner: Another Germany-based company, FRIMO Group GmbH won for its Street Shark matrix system for composite parts produced with the resin transfer molding (RTM) process. Street Shark parts can be used to improve the aerodynamics of high-performance cars, airplanes, and racing boats.
Ballistics Category Winners: France-based and PPE and Cedrem shared the award for their BBOX high-energy absorber for the defense and security markets. An assembly of composite fabrics and foams connected by fabric bridges, the BBOX is capable of absorbing shocks from detonation or flying debris from improvised explosive devices.
Construction Category Winner: Austria-based Kompetenzzentrum Holz GmbH won for its non-combustible composite for decorative facades. A stack of impregnated glass fibre nonwoven individualized with a decor sheet and pressed to a solid board under high pressure and temperature, the product is able to resist exterior weathering conditions and high mechanical strains, and can be applied in the cladding of high-rise buildings as well as in the facades of buildings with Grade A requirements.
Sports & Leisure Category Winner: Switzerland-based BComp won for a ukulele made of natural fibre Ekoa prepreg composites. “The material combines low weight, high strength and toughness with an unparalleled sound quality,” JEC said.
Wind Energy Category Winner: Owens Corning (OC), based in France and U.S., the company won for the WINDnovation wind turbine blade design. Manufactured with OC’s newly developed Ultrablade unidirectional and multiaxial glass reinforcement fabric range, the blades allow windmill turbines to run longer at stronger wind speeds; the better fatigue properties of the materials also result in a longer product lifetime.
JEC recognized the 10 winning companies and their innovation partners during the third annual JEC Americas exhibition, held from May 13 to May 15 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Ga.