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Transnational upgrading of composite technology

Dale Brosius, a columnist for Composite World Media, recently published an article to the effect that

Every March, composite researchers, manufacturers and end-users from around the world come to Paris for the JEC World exhibition. The exhibition is the largest of its kind, providing participants and exhibitors with the opportunity to assess the health of the composite market and to watch the latest developments in machinery, technology, materials and applications.

The market for composites technology is indeed global. In the automotive industry, BMW assembles vehicles in seven countries, Benz in 11, Ford in 16, and Volkswagen and Toyota in more than 20. Although some models are designed for the local market, every OEM is looking for lighter, more durable and more sustainable solutions for future production.

In the aerospace industry, Airbus assembles commercial aircraft in four countries, including China and the United States, and acquires components and components from many countries outside Europe. The recent Airbus and Bombardier C series alliance has also extended to Canada. Although all Boeing aircraft are assembled in the United States, Boeing’s factories in Canada and Australia design and deliver key subsystems, some of the major components, including carbon fiber wings, from suppliers in Japan, Europe and elsewhere. The goal of Boeing’s acquisition or joint venture with Embraer includes assembling aircraft in South America. Even Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II fighter flew subsystems from Australia, Canada, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Turkey and Britain to Fort Worth, Texas, for assembly.

The wind energy industry with the largest consumption of composite materials is also highly globalized. Increasing blade size makes manufacturing closer to the wind farm as a real need. After acquiring LM wind power company, Ge Corp now manufacture turbine blades in at least 13 countries. SIEMENS GMS is in 9 countries, and Vestas has 7 leaf factories in some countries. Even the independent leaf maker TPI composites manufactures blades in 4 countries. All of these companies have leaf factories in the fastest growing market in China.

Although most of the sporting goods and electronics made of composite materials come from Asia, they are sold to the global market. Pressure vessels and products designed for oil and gas, infrastructure and construction are manufactured and sold globally. It is difficult to find a part of the composite universe that does not involve in the world.

In contrast, the university system responsible for training future composite scientists and engineers, along with many research institutions and consortia, is mostly based on a single country. The mismatch between the industry and academia has created some systemic friction, and the composite industry must address the growing number of global technical problems. However, when the League of Nations is likely to address this issue effectively, its original equipment manufacturers and their suppliers find it difficult to work with local or national universities and research institutes to utilize government funding.

Dale Brosius first noticed this problem in March 2016. He noted that governments that provided basic funding for research institutions and universities had a vested interest in promoting the relative competitiveness of their manufacturing bases. However, as many have pointed out before, the main issues – modeling, composite recycling, reducing energy consumption, speed / efficiency, human resource development / Education – are the global needs of transnational OEMs and their suppliers.

How can we solve these problems from a research perspective and make composites ubiquitous as competitive materials? What kind of collaboration can we create to take advantage of the assets of multiple countries and get solutions faster? At the IACMI (Advanced Composite Manufacturing Innovation Institute), we discussed topics such as co-sponsored research projects, exchange of students with a European Union. Along this line, Dale Brosius is working with the JEC Group to organize initial meetings of composite research institutions and clusters from many countries at the JEC Composite Fair to meet and reach consensus on the most important research and educational needs of industry members. At that time, we can explore how to build international projects to meet these needs.


Post time: Aug-17-2018

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