Composite advances on parade

All the latest materials, processes, products and services can all be found at Composites Engineering 2021, held at the Birmingham NEC from 3-4 November. Composites in Manufacturing previews some of this year’s exhibitors.


We begin our roundup of exhibitors with Assyst Bullmer (stand K62). The company is the British-based supplier of high quality German-made cutting technology and material handling solutions for the composites industry. Assyst Bullmer has been selected as the partner for Solvay projects, delivering the integration of its cutting technology with varied robotic offload and automation. The success of these projects has enabled the company to offer further extension of its technology for companies which are looking to streamline their future production with the use of robots and integration into automatic lines.

Assyst Bullmer’s single ply Premiumcut ELC cutting machine has become one of the standards of efficiency and precision within the composites market. This fully customisable machine can be tailored to its customers specific needs. With a large variety of tooling configurations available from standard drag blades to ultrasonic cutting technology, this versatile machine is comfortable in any production environment.

Last November, Assyst Bullmer announced the launch of the Bullmer Xcut, a new machine designed to provide all the benefits of automatic cutting, but at a budget price. This single ply cutting solution is ideal for those who are looking to make their first into automation providing unmatched accuracy, cutting speed of up to 100m/min and acceleration of up to 2G.

Cecence (stand Q100) says its show focus this year will be on its latest developments in sustainable composites. The company’s growing range of sustainable recycled and natural fibre products offer an exciting and timely glimpse into the future of composite materials and manufacturing.

Start making sense

Cecence is known for its ability to build FST compliance into core structures enabling unprecedented design freedom for lightweight composites for the aerospace and rail interiors sectors. Cecence’s proprietary pre-form and low energy rapid processing and Right Material Right Application (RMRA) philosophy allows a portfolio of low embodied carbon products to be selected for each user. 

Bio-based and phenolic resin systems can be combined with a selection of reinforcements from carbon and glass through to recycled and natural fibres enabling the lightweight sustainable materials of tomorrow for the aerospace cabin or rail carriage of the future.

The technology gains and processing methodologies from their work in aerospace is now being transferred through to construction and interiors with a range of lightweight sustainable structures utilising hemp fibres harnessed within a bio-based binder. The company is working with a number of high-profile architects on integrating building materials that sequester CO2, both in their growth and once the building is in situ, locking in carbon and reducing the environmental impact of construction.

Moving on, CGTech (stand H104) will exhibit VERICUT 9.2 at the show. VERICUT is among the industry standards for CNC machine simulation to detect incorrect tool path motions, collisions, bugs and other areas for improvement.

The latest version, VERICUT 9.2, increases productivity and sustainability with improvements to collision checking and overall performance, as well as enhanced support for ‘intelligent’ cutting tools with cutting performance information and detailed tool reporting. Also added is a 3DLive interface to import GDML files, enabling users to quickly and easily create realistic digital machines and add other moving components (rotary tables, articulating heads, fixtures with moving clamps, etc.) for more realistic simulation.

VERICUT 9.2 also provides important advancements in optimisation and monitoring machining processes. VERICUT Force is a physics-based NC program optimisation module that can be used with optimised cutting operations. Force makes changes to the program based on the specific stock material, cutting tool properties, and machining conditions encountered during simulation. Force optimised program feedrates maintain an ideal constant chip thickness as much as possible, while simultaneously limiting excessive cutting forces or spindle power requirements.

The latest version of VERICUT brings more options for optimisation. Force can set a target Chip Thickness and any combination of Force limits, such as maximum force, maximum power, and maximum tool deflection. Users can also choose to “Learn From Graphs” to send optimisation settings to cutting tools, or change optimisation settings for corresponding cutters.

Leading high-speed 5-axis CNC machining centre specialists, CMS Advanced Materials Technology (stand U106) says it has made substantial investments in R&D that allow the brand to always be on the forefront of cutting-edge design, with machines that ensure best-in-class performance in terms of accuracy, speed of execution, and reliability; meeting the needs of customers operating in the most demanding divisions. This year the company will be promoting the Kreator, its new hybrid system with combined CNC milling and additive manufacturing technology with Screw Extrusion Additive Manufacturing (SEAM).

Meanwhile, Compcut (stand R110) will showcase its upgraded Advanced Composite Saws and innovative Precision Composite Routers at the event. The company is running ‘live’ demonstrations on stand with an opportunity to take the ‘Compcut Challenge’ - an open invitation for visitors to bring along their own composite material to the stand and put the Compcut machines to the test. The company will be featuring both the ACS 300 saw and PCR 600 router on the stand, as well as running a selection of its ‘Best Practice Techniques & Case Study’ videos.

Composite Integration (stand Q92) will unveil the latest generation of its Ciject Two range, which includes innovative equipment for delivering mixed resin within RTM, Light RTM, VRTM and Infusion processes. The equipment is targeted specifically towards manufacturers who require precision control and accountability, with abilities for RTM, LRTM and infusion processes within one machine.

Further on, CompoTech (stand U84) will showcase innovative carbon composite components and automated processing technologies at the event. CompoTech has proprietary automated fibre placement production facilities, in-house R&D process development and design engineering expertise, 3D printed tooling and CNC machining. These extensive capabilities enable CompoTech to create and manufacture to order a wide variety of standard and bespoke lightweight, vibration-damped, carbon fibre epoxy composite components.

Recent automated process innovations developed by CompoTech include: integrated loop fibre joint technology (ILT) for stronger, more economical epoxy carbon structural joints; JEC Aerospace Innovation award-winning carbon composite aileron one-step-cure production technology that requires no secondary bonding. CompoTech also offers process technologies that are installed as a complete automated system, with full service and support.   

Cristex (stand T90) will be at the show for its 10th year. The company will be exhibiting a range of products suitable for various markets, as well as providing information on the services it offers.

Cristex has strong partnerships with several worldwide leaders in the composites industry and will be showcasing products from Saertex, Angeloni Group, Elantas, Eurocarbon and Kordsa, with a key product focus on the decorative range by Angeloni Group. Fabrics such as Alutex, Innovative Tex and Premium Decorative Weaves will be on display, along with customer applications from Tillett’s to showcase the fabrics on finished applications.

If your business has any kit cutting or slitting and rewinding requirements, there will be information on how kits are processed from start to finish. Cristex’ cutting expert will be available to support and answer any questions. The company has made significant investments on state-of-the-art machinery to support the growth of the production department, including the Ribamatic slitter, which is designed to process and slit a variety of composite materials. With the kit cutting service powered by Zund, Cristex continues to meet the growing needs of the various market sectors, whilst providing a tailored service from the start to finish. 

Fibre converting specialist and custom machinery manufacturer, Cygnet Texkimp (stand T60) will showcase its filament winding technologies and demonstrate their role in processing composites for hydrogen storage. The company is hosting secure trials of its filament winding technologies at its Cheshire-based Innovation Centre where customers can evaluate materials and validate process design through collaborative development with its team of R&D specialists.

Cygnet Texkimp’s standard, multi-axis, and 3D winding machines are available for trials alongside its thermoplastic and thermoset prepreg processing lines, which are capable of producing UD and fabric prepregs as well as towpregs which can deliver properties similar to those of slit tapes but at lower cost.

In February 2022, the company’s Innovation Centre will also become home to its high precision slitter-spooler. This will be capable of processing thermoset and thermoplastic prepregs to produce precision slit tapes, offering a solution for very high-end filament wound and other fibre placement applications most relevant to the space, aerospace, and defence markets.

In the same aisle, Gen 2 Carbon (stand K64) will make its debut appearance at the event. Formerly ELG Carbon Fibre, the West Midlands company focuses on the development of next generation carbon fibre recovery systems and the delivery of recycled carbon fibre nonwovens across a broad range of industries. Gen 2 Carbon places a strong emphasis on helping manufacturers reduce their environmental footprint through the application of sustainable materials, which in turn reduces the waste impact of the composites industry.

A materials whirl

At forefront of specialised 5-axis CNC machining centres, Maka (stand E112) offers enhanced modular packages, for greater flexibility and productivity when machining composites. The company has enhanced its new MK7, MM7, BC and DC7 models with improved modularity to expand the 5-axis machining capabilities, and increase the users’ ability to produce the highest quality machined composites and improve patternmaking efficiency.

The latest MK7 and MM7t are specified with an array of application-oriented equipment for composite applications. The Maka machine’s inherent precision enables users to clamp and machine almost any component on five even six sides, making the Maka ideal for the most demanding and experienced professionals, producing high-volume, and high-value, or one-off bespoke work.

The advantages comprise more accessibility, faster tool changes, improved clamping flexibility, safer, cleaner and easier to use, robust, powerful, reliable and precise and higher productivity. The Maka machines are suitable for those manufacturers demanding the highest quality and highest productivity without compromise.

Maka Systems has over 70 years of experience in specialised CNC machining centres, application orientated, remain committed and passionate about providing uncompromising solutions for specific applications, including composites, and provide comprehensive and high level support by factory-trained NC Engineers from its subsidiary in Telford.

Elsewhere, Mikrosam (stand T62) will use the event to highlight its automated solutions for filament winding, AFP/ATL, prepregs and towpregs, pressure vessels, slitting and rewinding. The company offers a full range of highly customisable AFP and ATL configurations, including: Multi-material AFP using thermoset, thermoplastic and dry-fibre; Automated head exchange in <3mins; Robotic, gantry or hybrid configuration; Patented ATL head, dual ultra-sonic knives; In-process layup inspection system.

OB2B Industrial Marketing & PR (stand U80) will once again exhibiting at Advanced Engineering. The company has a client base of multinationals and SMEs across the supply chain and provides cost-effective technically-based, B2B industrial marketing and press release support which helps companies to secure new business and grow sales faster.     

OB2B specialises in promoting metals, polymers, composites, engineering plastics, structural adhesives and manufacturers of a wide range of extruded, moulded and machined finished products.

Founder, Nigel O’Dea, has 28 years of blue-chip multinational business experience in senior commercial roles, which enables him to quickly understand the technical and commercial aspects of a client’s products - from raw materials and processing to finished parts, and then produce engaging marketing content, PR and promotional tools.

The range of marketing services provided to clients is flexible and tailored to suit specific needs from strategic marketing planning to delivering key marketing communications projects including updating or creating a new website; E-marketing; digital and printed sales tools; exhibition stand support; social media; advertising campaigns; PR news and technical application story writing for editorial in target sector print and online media to inform the market and raise the profile of a company.   

Celebrating 40 years at the forefront of advanced composites, PRF Composite Materials (stand Q104) will showcase its prepreg range and present the company’s increased manufacturing capabilities and completion of its circa £6 million expansion programme.

Having just opened its fourth facility, increasing PRF’s factory space to 40,000ft2, the PRF team will be discussing new product developments and technologies driven by the upgrade and expansion of PRF’s R&D facilities and manufacturing capabilities, including a third impregnation line, an additional CNC machine and increased freezer storage space to 735m3. Also showing on the stand will be PRF’s wider range of advanced composite materials: high performance reinforcements, epoxy resin systems, Qiicote mould release, kitting services and more.

All above board

Ru-bix (stand M80), a specialist manufacturer of polyurethane tooling boards, will be launching a new range of sustainable, bio-based and hybrid tooling boards at the event. The advanced thermoset polymer specialists will be launching new tooling board product ranges to complement its existing high-performance solutions.

Innovations on show from Tygavac (stand R90), a division of Airtech Advanced Materials Group will include Dahltram, tooling resins for additive manufactured tooling, Print-Tech 3D Printed Tooling hardware, Heat-Tech heating solution for composite curing, Combo-Tech multi-functions materials for efficient resin infusions, plus its Engineered Kitting Solutions for rate production composite manufacturing.

VeriVide (stand T52) is one of the leaders in the design, development and manufacture of specialist Colour Assessment Cabinets (Light boxes) and Digital Imaging systems for fast and accurate visual and digital colour and appearance evaluation. The company will showcase its DigiEye system and Colour Assessment Cabinet, and how its customers can evaluate the quality and appearance of their products and demonstrate the ability to instantly communicate colour to their suppliers.

VeriVide’s Colour Assessment Cabinets (CAC60) are designed specifically for colour matching and evaluation of any material, where precise control of colour is critical. The company’s DigiEye remote vision based colour assessment tool is used to verify process changes and any overall change to the finished product.

Finally, Zund (stand S70) will showcase many new products and features at the show. Firstly, its Zund PreCut Center (ZPC) lets you create nested job files simply and efficiently. ZPC facilitates data preparation and output. In just a few steps, users can create fully nested job files and automate their data workflow according to their individual requirements.

The Zund Connect monitoring tool helps users recognise potential areas for optimising the digital cutting process. Zund Connect compiles production data from integrated cutting systems into meaningful key performance indicators, such as cutter capacity, availability, and overall equipment effectiveness.

The Zund Cut Center (ZCC) Visualising Option has been developed to simplify the traceability of cut parts as well as their identification and sorting after contour cutting. The Visualising Option allows the ZCC to use metadata from job and production information in a variety of ways. A projection system above the cutter shows the operator which cut pieces belong together in different colours. It can also indicate on which cut pieces labels must be applied for later identification.

Lastly, Zund says you can mount the Leibinger Jet 3 inkjet printer on your Zund G3 cutter like any other tool and mark the cut parts automatically. The information to be printed must be available in the ZCC as a text label within the CAD file and can be supplemented with standard text, QR/data matrix/barcode and variable data such as date, time or file name.


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