Many companies know the problem: you need just a small piece of pre-preg for a project. But you can only buy a big, expensive roll from the manufacturer. Or that big roll of pre-preg in storage has just passed its expiration date and now you have to throw it all away. A lot of money and materials gets wasted this way, resulting in a big financial as well as environmental impact. The website www.composite-trade.com was conceived to put an end to all that.

In composites repair you always have the problem that you need special components and materials which you can only buy from the manufacturer in large quantities,” says Rick van Opdorp. He runs ACRATS training services (http://acrats-training.com/) together with Edwin Smarius. They train people how to repair structures, mainly for the aircraft industry. “For a repair you only need small quantities. So if you have to order a whole roll of pre-pregs for example, the material cost renders the repair almost unfeasible. In the 12 years that I have been working in composites, I have always been confronted with this problem, right from day one.”

At the same time they saw that many companies had to throw surplus materials away. That is necessary for example if the material has stayed in storage past its expiration date. And each time you use a roll of pre-preg, you have to take it out of the freezer to cut off a piece. If the roll has been out of the freezer in total for longer than a certain time span dictated by the manufacturer, then again it is not allowed to use the roll anymore for aircraft repair.

If only there was a convenient way for companies to sell their surplus composite materials to companies that need small quantities or companies and institutions that can use overdue materials (for example for training purposes), then everyone would benefit. And it would be environmentally friendly because it would cut back waste.

That is how the idea was born for www.composite-trade.com, a specialized website where companies can trade these materials. It took more than 18 months to develop. That is because nothing could be re-used from existing websites, like online auctions or sales platforms.

This article appeared in the May/June issue of Reinforced Plastics.

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