This year, nine companies and their 15 partner organisations will receive awards at the JEC Asia Composites Show on 14-16 October 2009 in Singapore.

The Programme was created in 1998 with the goal of promoting innovation. Each year, a jury of international experts chooses the best composite innovations, based on their technical interest, market potential, partnership, financial impact and originality. The winners are listed below.

Environment & Recycling category

Product: An 'environment-friendly' surfboard, employing renewable cellulose reinforcements
Winner: Cobra International Co Ltd (Thailand)
Partner: Porcher Industries (France)

Cobra international's new surfboard uses Porcher Industries' Greenlite reinforcements, replacing standard glass fibre reinforcement. Greenlite is a new generation of high-performance renewable reinforcement based on cellulose fibres. Greenlite material is biodegradable and can be processed using standard equipment. The surfboards are reported to offer excellent surface finish, no weight increase and very good performance.

Other finalists in the Environment & Recycling category:

Raw Materials category

Product: A surface tissue endowing composites with high fire-resistant properties
Winner: Regina Glass Fibre Pty Ltd (Australia)
Partners: CRC-ACS (Australia) and Ampelite (Australia)

FireShield® is a chemically loaded surface tissue that can be added to any composite laminate during manufacture to provide fire resistance. Using this product as a normal surface tissue, the manufacturer produces a fire-resistant laminate. When FireShield is used as the exterior ply in a composite laminate, the halogen-free fire-retardant chemical is placed just beneath the surface, where it is most needed. This approach to providing fire resistance does not require any special fire-retardant resins, and thus allows standard laminating resins to be used to manufacture composites that meet international fire standards. When exposed to flame, FireShield produces a well-bonded charred layer on the surface of the product.

Although nonwoven glass tissue provides the lowest cost fabric for the FireShield technology, carrier fabrics of other fibres such as polyester or carbon, either woven or nonwoven, can be used to meet specific requirements.

With increased emphasis on flame, smoke and toxicity (FST) performance of composite materials, particularly for mass transit and building applications, the market potential is seen to be substantial.

Other finalists in the Raw Materials category:

  • a novel structural core composite material for components of the auxetic type: Chismatech (Italy) with its partner University of Catania (Italy);
  • reinforced composite rebar presented: EG Intellectural Asset Creative Development Co Ltd (Taiwan) with its partner Rockey Ho (Taiwan);
  • Lamilux heatable GRP:  Lamilux Heinrich Strunz GmbH (Germany) with its partners Frenzelit (Germany) and Stadur (Germany).  

Process category

Product: Design and process development of non axi-symmetric four-axis integral filament winding of double-‘D’-shaped, all-composite road tankers
Winner: Modern Engineering Plastics Pvt Ltd (MEPPL) (India)  
Partners: NGN Composites (India), CNC Technics Pvt Ltd (India), Crescent Consultants (UK) and TIFAC (India)

Traditionally, road tankers have a steel or aluminium body, with or without rubber lining inside. Unlike pressure vessels, road tankers for transportation of liquids under gravity are made of double-‘D’-shaped cross-sectional profiles in order to keep the overall centre of gravity low for better stability and vehicle road holding. No winding process for such non axi-symmetric profiles with integral-end dome winding has been developed so far. This innovation is intended for the filament winding of such tankers.

These composite tankers are more resistant to water and many chemicals. Their high strength-to-weight ratio and stiffness-to-weight ratio make them lighter and long lasting. They offer 45% weight saving over a steel tanker. The jointless winding of shell in an automated machine makes production faster and the product stronger. Two tankers can be made in a day compared with several days for steel. A factor of safety of six or above is guaranteed without any resin leakage.

Negotiations are underway with a major truck manufacturer in India for marketing the product with annual initial sales of 500 tankers.

Other finalists in the Process category:

  • composite materials with innovative heat-directed properties: Hassan Associates Co Ltd (Japan) & partners Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) (Japan) and Kyoto Institute of Technology (KIT) (Japan);
  • a new kind of continuous filament winding machine for pipe production: Qingdao Longtech Machinery Co Ltd (China) & partner Qingdao Deyili Pipe Co Ltd (China);
  • use of a new textile technology to produce fabrics with curved or annular structure in accordance with the shape requirements of composite products: Tianjin Polytechnical University Textile Institute (China).

Automation category

Product: A laser-assisted thermoplastic tape placement process
Winner: Fraunhofer IPT (Germany)
Partners: Suprem SA (Switzerland) and Diehl Aircabin GmbH (Germany)

The new technique of laser-assisted thermoplastic tape placement enables the fully automatic production of lightweight components from filament reinforced plastics. Such components are required, for example, by the aerospace industry for horizontal stabilisers and fuselages and by other industries as well.

The new process is said to deliver substantially higher processing speeds (i.e. shorter production cycles) and requires a lower energy input during the manufacturing process than the conventional tape placement technique currently used to produce these components. It allows the manufacturer to dispense with the process required to harden the currently used thermosets, which incurs high investment and process costs.

Tape manufacturer Suprem SA optimised its tape production processes to match the requirements posed by the laser-assisted tape placement technology. Fraunhofer IPT coordinated the project and designed, developed and constructed the facility. Diehl Aircabin provided real component specifications and subjected component samples to technical inspections.

Other finalists in the Automation category:

  • a precision injection pressure control for mould filling: Magnum Venus Plastech (USA).
  • new-generation Olmar autoclaves: Olmar (Spain) & partner TC Industrial (Spain).

Aerospace category

Product: Composite applications for radio telescopes (CART) project
Winner: National Research Council of Canada – Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics’ (HIA) Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory (DRAO) – (Canada)
Partner: Profile Composites Inc (Canada)

The Composite Applications for Radio Telescopes (CART) project is investigating the application of composite materials in radio telescope structures to provide a cost-effective collecting area for the Square Kilometer Array (SKA). The result of this effort, the CART Mk 2 reflector, clearly demonstrates the potential of composite materials for the construction of radio antennas in the size range of 10-15 m. The CART research focuses on the technology development for the SKA, which will require several thousand 12 m class reflectors to be fabricated over a period of several years. Space communication ground arrays are another potential application where a number of reflector antennas are required.

The CART project was initiated in 2006. The first 10 m prototype reflector was completed in 2007. The result was a lightweight (~1000 kg), stiff reflector with a surface accuracy of 1.2 mm RMS. The Mk2 design consists of a one-piece surface and rim, eight radial beams and a central hub. The dish surface and rim was infused as one piece to reduce labour, and time in mould. The hub and beams were fabricated in parallel and then bonded onto the surface/rim while it was still on the mould, capturing the surface shape. In September 2008, the first prototype was removed from the test mount and after a preliminary surface measurement, the Mk2 was fitted in its place. The result is an improvement in surface accuracy from 1.2 to 0.5 mm rms and a significant reduction in production time. A costing analysis of this high-performance reflector indicates an in-production cost of ~$400/m². In 2008 the CART project’s prime focus was on the production of the Mk2 prototype.

Other finalists in the Aerospace category:

Building & Construction category

Product: FRPM pipes for sewage system
Winner: Kurimoto Plastics Co Ltd (Japan)
Partner: National Institute for Rural Engineering (Japan)

The FRP layer consists of high-strength glass fibres wound in the circumferential and axial directions by the filament winding process and hardened by unsaturated polyester resin. The included resin mortar is a polyester concrete made from selected fine sand hardened by unsaturated polyester resin, having a compressive strength several times as high as an ordinary cement concrete. The interior and exterior FRP layers bear the bending stress of pipes, while the middle resin mortar layer keeps each FRP layer at a certain interval and transmits shearing force. This structure provides strength against external pressures such as soil and truck load, and against various internal pressures as well. These flexible pipes can adjust to ground displacement, due to the flexibility and elasticity of joints.

FRPM pipes can be substituted for steel and concrete pipes. Applications include: sewage, jacking pipes, water for irrigation, tube well casing & screen, protection for power & communication cables.

Other finalists in the Building & Construction category:

Sports and Leisure category

Product: One-piece composite ice hockey stick
Winner: Composites Busch SA (Switzerland)
Partners: Huntsman (China) and EPFL (Switzerland)

This one-piece 'jointless' ice hockey combines good stick and blade slashing properties, as well as bending and torsion features. The one-piece design allows the energy stored during the shock on the ice to be released efficiently onto the puck. It has better solidity and durability, and a longer lifetime. Fewer vibrations are transmitted to the body and therefore associated injuries are reduced. Huntsman Advanced Materials provided the Araldite® NanoTech composite RTM system, which is blended with organic nano-particles that exhibit outstanding toughening effects. EPFL quantified and validated the properties (toughness and resistance to impact and vibration).

Today, Busch produces 5500 hockey sticks a year (mainly custom sticks). The goal is to increase production by 25% to reach 7000 sticks.

Other finalists in the Sports and Leisure category:

  • Alpico ice axe in three foldaway sections: Polynt SpA (Italy) & partners Soluzioninventive Srl (Italy) and Aludesign SpA (Italy);
  • CFS CarbonFibre stone to replace wood, aluminium, steel and concrete for almost any kind of application in mechanical engineering and the building sector: TechnocarbonTechnologies (Germany) & partner GCERM Foundation.

Transportation/ Marine category

Product: Development of an all-carbon hull for Damen Shipyards DI 1102 Interceptor boats
Winner: DK Composites (Malaysia)
Partner:  Damen Shipyards (The Netherlands)

The Damen Interceptors 1102 are a new generation of ultra-fast boats featuring hulls made entirely out of carbon and glass fibre composites. The boats can reach operating speeds of 60 knots, are highly manoeuvrable, and best suited for maritime law enforcement operations.

Damen commissioned DK to build the first Damen Interceptor 1102 in 2007. The job was completed in the specified time and passed all sea tests. In 2008, Damen awarded a contract to DK Composites Sdn Bhd for the building of four Damen Interceptors 1102 boats. One of these can be used as demonstrator for other potential customers in other parts of the world. It is also hoped that the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency will also test this boat for their interceptor operations in Malaysia.

In the near future, Damen intends to be able to deliver one DI 1102 unit every two weeks. At the moment, Damen and DK Composites are discussing the series production of a 15m fully-composite pilot boat. They plan to extend their co-operation even further with the production of larger interceptor craft and various other Damen vessels between 15-20 m.

Transportation/ Railways category

Product: A railway composite insulator
Winner: En Liang (Taiwan)
Partner: Brecknell Willis & Co Ltd (Taiwan)

En-Liang has been working on railway insulators with Brecknell Willis & Co Ltd (BW Taiwan) since 2000. The insulator material (BMC/SMC) developed by En-Liang is perfect for outdoor insulation applications. In 2008, En-Liang worked with BW Taiwan to develop a new insulator for Taiwan’s Tao-Yuen Airport metro line which connects the airport to the Taipei area.

The advantages of this insulator material are high insulation strength and a substitute for ceramic insulators as well as high strength and a partial substitute for the metal support used for supporting the insulator. It also offers excellent outdoor application.

Other finalists in the Transportation category: