Glass roving being processed into unidirectional prepreg for the wind energy market at Guang Wei Composites' facility.
Glass roving being processed into unidirectional prepreg for the wind energy market at Guang Wei Composites' facility.
Carbon fibre unidirectional prepreg manufacture.
Carbon fibre unidirectional prepreg manufacture.

by Reinforced Plastics staff

Guang Wei Composites started out as a fishing rod manufacturer, using imported carbon fibre prepreg. Around 20 years ago it started manufacturing its own prepreg materials.

Today, Guang Wei Composites employs 1000 people and its prepreg production is a big business. It  employs around 1000 people and operates 10 prepreg lines, several Liba multiaxial machines (including the only Liba MAX 5 in China) and around 30 weaving looms. The company produces around 12 million m2 of prepreg per year at its facility in Weihai, Shangdong.

Guang Wei has also invested RMB30 million (€3.3 million) in a research and development facility at its Weihai headquarters. This will officially open in June. The 1000 m2 facility will house 40 technicians who will focus on composite material developments such as surface coatings, fire retardant products for aerospace applications, adhesives, lightweight carbon fibre products for the marine and sports sectors, and heavyweight materials for wind and infrastructure.

Markets

Around 60% of the prepreg Guang Wei produces is used in house – the company makes 8 million carbon fibre fishing rods a year – but over the past 3-4 years the company has diversified into other markets.

Today, Guang Wei is the only 100% Chinese company making prepregs for the wind energy market and it supplies GL (Germanischer Lloyd) approved prepregs to Spanish wind turbine producer Gamesa's Chinese facilities. Guang Wei was also recently awarded a Chinese patent for its semi-preg materials for wind energy applications. These comprise layers of dry reinforcement fibres and a catalysed resin matrix film.

The company expects its sales to the wind energy market to grow as Chinese wind energy players switch to using prepreg materials.

In addition to wind energy, Guang Wei is developing products for other markets with growth potential. It is currently testing prepregs designed for marine applications, and in the longer term it hopes to develop fire retardant prepreg suitable for aircraft and train interiors. Guang Wei has started working towards the aerospace qualification AS9100.

A Chinese partner

In March, Guang Wei Composites attended the JEC Composites Show in Paris for the second time where it showcased its products, including its prepreg materials and dry unidirectional carbon reinforcements.

The show offers Guang Wei an opportunity to promote its brand internationally. The company wants to become known as a good partner for companies coming to set up production in China.