Composites Engineering 2019: Exhibitor preview

The latest materials, processes, products and services can all be found at Composites Engineering 2019, held at the Birmingham NEC on October 30 and 31. Composites in Manufacturing previews some of this year’s exhibitors.

We begin our preview of exhibitors with Attwater (Stand N38). The industrial laminates specialist will showcase a newly-developed low Fire, Smoke and Toxicity (FST) range of materials offering a strong, lightweight solution with excellent environmental credentials.

The Preston, Lancashire, company will display products selected from its catalogue of more than 1,000 laminate sheets, epoxy glass, polyimide glass, phenolic fabric and carbon fibre products.

It will mark the debut of Attwater's brand new FST materials. The range features products formulated to have excellent fire retardancy, low smoke density and low toxicity, which have been especially designed for aircraft interiors (they are FAR 25.853 and ABD0031 compliant) and rail interiors (meeting Class HL3 in EN 45545-2).

The Attwater Low-FST resin range is flexible in its uses and is available with a variety of reinforcements, including a 200gsm plain weave E-glass, 245gsm twill weave carbon fibre or a 7781-style woven E-glass.

In addition to proven safety properties, the products are lightweight, strong and offer good electrical insulation properties. The PFA resin is also bio-derived from crop waste, giving it excellent environmental credentials.

Moving on, Bitrez (Stand J16) formulates and manufacturers what it claims is one of the broadest portfolios of thermoset and bio-based materials currently available in the marketplace, together with catalysts and curing agents.

Supplying the composites, coatings and adhesive sectors for global companies, this is the third year the Wigan-based company will be exhibiting. This year, Bitrez has not only been awarded a Queen’s Award for innovation, it has also created new distribution networks across Europe, Middle East, USA, Canada and Mexico.

At Advanced Engineering, Bitrez will be launching a number of new composites-based resins, including high Tg, REACh compliant and out-of-autoclave systems. Visitors to the stand can also discuss customisation of its high-performance Vinyl Ester, Epoxy, Phenolic, Phenol Aralkyl and Benzoxazine resin systems that help enhance processes and applications.

Compotech & Flexix: Trusted composite expertise

Bitrez also offers toll conversion as well as technical support. Its team of qualified and experienced chemists can produce materials from laboratory scale through to transient pilot stage to enable scale up and allow for small scale qualification work before moving to commercial manufacture.

Five years after making its début in the advanced materials sector, Biesse (Stand L44) now offers machining solutions for a wide variety of markets and applications including plastics, composite materials, foam and light alloys as well carbon fibre, patterns and moulds. This has enabled the company to experience growth beyond expectations, seeing a 300% increase in sales in three years.

The machine tool builder’s technology includes 3- and 5-axis CNC, Thermoformers, panel saws, sanders and waterjet cutting systems. The Materia range of 5-axis machining centres offer high speed processing of thermoformed plastics, composites and aluminium. The 5-axis head offers the ability to machine complex shapes and can be configured with continuous rotation. In addition, control systems from OSAI, Siemens and Heidenhain are available.

Terma thermoformers, are ideally suited for truck, bus and aerospace applications. They can process a wide range of sheet thicknesses and finishes of plastic materials and utilise a combination of mould and vacuum to provide perfect finishing and cutting accuracy.

In the UK, Biesse has a 100-strong sales and service team. In addition, a technical centre is available for product trials, testing and demos.

Cristex: The car is the star

A seasoned exhibitor at Advanced Engineering, Connect 2 Cleanrooms (C2C) will showcase its bespoke modular cleanrooms on (Stand C6) to enable companies to convert parts of existing facilities into classified clean environments.

Every company’s process and facility are unique, so C2C works collaboratively to develop the most appropriate cleanroom to transform production, assembly and inspection areas - balancing process flow with the factors that provide regulatory compliance, such as air changes and pressure differential. Through site surveys, technical support and digital modelling, C2C has a robust design package that ensures the technical specification will deliver on its requirements.

Its freestanding structures use HEPA filtration, 99.99% efficient at 0.3µm, to process and deliver the high volume of clean air needed to achieve particle concentration levels and air change rates detailed in ISO 14644-1:2015.

Elsewhere, Cecence (Stand M30) is exhibiting projects that deliver on its mission to bring innovative, practical composite engineering solutions and scalable component production to multiple industries.

The company’s JEC award winning, first all-composite 16g in-flight seat back, demonstrates how composites in aerospace interiors can save weight, be FST compliant, aesthetically pleasing, mass produced and commercially viable.

In rail the sector, it is demonstrating significant cost savings at £1m/10km with its composite overhead line electrification system for rail with its Composite UK award nominated COHLE system.

Farecla: Superior surfaces

In addition, visitors can meet its client, Aerocoach, manufacturer of world-leading cycling and triathlon equipment, and hear how the company is realising competitive equipment advantages, and how it has grown its composite-based product portfolio with Cecence as the development partner.

New this year, the Cecence stand will also be showcasing the latest in bio-composite manufacture, using all-natural fibre and bio-resins, supporting the world’s focus on carbon reduction and sustainability. Cecence’s award-winning engineers will also be onsite throughout the show for 15-minute, one-to-one clinics offering advice. To book an on-site clinic session, go to

In the adjacent aisle, Cevotec’s (Stand L74) Fibre Patch Placement system SAMBA empowers commercial aerospace and urban air mobility manufacturers to automate the multi-material lay-up of geometrically complex components in one integrated production system, monitored and guided by self-corrective process control.

SAMBA Multi-production systems feature parallel feeding units for processing up to four different materials and placing them precisely on 3D sandwich cores. The placement unit mounted on a linear axis enables the production of particularly large components. By scaling the patches to DIN-A-4-dimensions, a high material throughput is ensured. An integrated gripper station enables switching to smaller gripper and patch sizes for lay-up in highly-complex areas during the process.

The technology allows for a highly controllable component production cycle, as production itself is composed of a series of individual patch placement cycles, which are controlled by self-corrective, in-process control units. The first control unit identifies the quality of each patch that is cut. A second unit checks the relative position of the patch on the placement gripper once picked up. This real-time control system ensures that only 100% in-spec raw material is being placed exactly at the calculated position.

Cevotec says baseline savings between 20–60% in production cost and time can be made when switching from manual lay-up to Fibre Patch Placement.

Colloids (Stand I76) has sales, production and R&D facilities in the UK and China, globally supplying high quality black, white and coloured masterbatches, compounds and additives to OEMs, convertors, polymer producers and compounders.

At the Colloids stand visitors can find out about all the latest in-house R&D product innovations including: High Temperature Polymer Masterbatches in Signal Warning Orange (RAL 2003). The newly-expanded range of T-TEC high temperature polymer masterbatch grades, is now available for PEEK, PPSU, PSU, PEI, PA10T, PA12, PBT, PA6T and PA66 engineering polymers.

These new grades are primarily for producing high voltage (HV) automotive components as Signal Warning Orange is the regulation colour specified by OEMs for high voltage cable and connector applications in a battery-electric vehicle (BEV), hybrid (HEV) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV); key applications include under the bonnet electrical components, conduits and charging plug units.

The T-TEC range includes over 30 high temperature masterbatches grades, based on a proprietary universal carrier as well as polymer specific grades, available in black and RAL/Pantone colours. Automotive, electrical and electronics, industrial and medical equipment are key application markets.

Furthermore, Colloids’ L-TEC laser marking compatible masterbatch range enables plastic components to be permanently laser marked or etched with key product information and branding in either a light or dark mark instead of ink printing or engraving; text, numbers, QR and bar codes, images and logos can be clearly laser marked on a plastic part.

Next up, on (Stand P8) both Compotech UK and Flexix will be represented at the show. Compotech now has a full range of capabilities for composites and fibreglass production with its new Hungarian-based lower volume RTM and hand lay-up facilities now on stream complementing its tried and trusted SMC capacity. Flexix is new to the UK market this year, but with over 40 years’ experience in providing solutions in rubber, rubber-metal and elastomers will have a range of solutions, including automotive and specialist rail track products, etc.

CMS: CNC machine tool advances

Cristex (Stand M26) will be showcasing a range of fire-retardant materials, exclusive decorative fabrics, glass and carbon fabrics, stabilised fabrics, as well as tapes and epoxy resin systems. Additionally, if your business has any cutting and kitting requirements, speak to one of the company’s engineers for more information about this service. The company will be displaying an Urban Discovery 5 in the Automotive feature area. Cristex has supported Urban with this project by digitising and cutting the required pieces that make up the visual carbon components.

Nearby, ELG Carbon Fibre (Stand L70) will be showcasing an extensive range of recycled carbon fibre solutions for the composites and compounding industries. From its West Midlands facility, ELG continues to drive the development and industrialisation of conversion technologies that can be reintroduced into the supply chain to promote sustainably and reduce cost.

ELG’s CARBISO carbon products are ideally suited to high volume, lightweight applications within the transportation and electronics sectors. The company collaborates with the world’s leading academic institutions to deliver the most advanced yet cost-effective carbon fibre technologies to industry leading OEMs.

At the show, a selection of milled, chopped and mat samples will be showcased alongside some striking demonstrator parts produced by ELG’s partners Gurit, Formaplex, Prodrive Composites and Sanko Gosei.

Evonik (Stand J30) will use the event to demonstrate how Rohacell Triple F foam cores have the potential to optimise production process and to lower the cost per part. High temperatures and high injection pressures are needed to shorten curing cycle times for RTM or wet pressing processes. With a temperature resistance of up to 130°C and pressure resistance of up to 3.5MPa (510psi), depending on the density, Rohacell Triple F is an ideal foam core, not only for RTM and wet processes, but also for high pressure RTM processes like compression-RTM.

Fine surface details are accurately reproduced, and the final core has a smooth surface that provides good adhesion to facing layers. Inserts, for example threaded inserts, can be directly integrated during the core foaming process, resulting in a final off tool part ready to be used for lay-up and curing production.

By avoiding unnecessary resin and extra layers and reducing the preparation time, the foam core reduces finished part weight and cost. Sandwich components with an in-mould foamed core made from Rohacell Triple F are offered by LiteCon Advanced Composite Products, a joint venture between Evonik Industries and SECAR Technology.

Surface finishing specialist, Farécla (Stand K56) will be attending Advanced Engineering 2019 with an impressive display of exhibits that have been polished with Farécla products, showcasing superb finishes across a variety of substrates.

The stand will also feature the winning bonnet from the company’s 2019 ‘Apprentice & Student Bonnet Painting Competition’, celebrating young talent within the industry. For those who missed seeing last year's winning bonnet, it will be on display at the Composites Showcase area of the show (O30).

Elsewhere in the halls, JR Technology (Stand N6) will unveil the latest features of the DolphiCam2 Ultrasonic Matrix Array Camera. Launched earlier this year, the DolphiCam2 UT imaging platform brings NDT inspections to a new level with the ability to view the weave of fibre reinforcements, wrinkling and excess resin. New functionality includes: Full Matrix Capture (FMC) allowing the user to save cubes of data, and upload them later to manipulate settings and add filters and Total Focusing Method (TFM) which not only facilitates focusing in the B-scan (2D), but also in the 3D cube of data without the use of an encoder.

DolphiCam2 requires minimal training to use, is lightweight and extremely reliable and supports a range of frequencies between 0.5 and 15MHz, making it suitable for materials from glass and carbon fibre through to titanium and stainless steel.

MSA Manufacturing (MSA) (Stand L30) is an independent UK supplier, specialising in the machining, slitting, cutting and kitting of materials for the composites industry. The company is exhibiting again at the show to promote its enhanced production space and improved processing capabilities. Approximately 16,500ft² of new factory space and improved processes were added in 2019 for reinforcement kitting and preforming, increasing capacity and customer service.

From its expanded site in Wimborne, Dorset, MSA runs three factory units, providing a wide range of services to OEMs and Tier 1 composite part manufacturers looking to outsource some or all of their material and kitting requirements. The MSA team says it finds clever ways to provide time- and cost-saving material solutions without compromising quality, helping companies improve productivity.

Colloids: Quality compounds

Material outsourcing services provided by MSA include: core and composite plate machining and kitting; cutting/slitting and kitting of 2D/3D reinforcement fabrics, prepreg, adhesive film, peel-ply and surface veils; 2D preform kit assembly of multilayer bonded reinforcements; CNC machining (3- and 5-axis) milling, waterjet, wire, knife (ply) cutting.

Added value digital engineering services provided include: kit designing from CAD and templates; surface flattening; 3D scanning and 2D digitising. MSA also does reverse engineering and prototyping, optimising material processes and developing sub-assemblies.

MSA serves a variety of composites markets and applications, supplying materials and custom kits for monolithic and sandwich design composite components from small, complex shaped parts to large structures, such as yacht hulls and decks and wind turbine blades.


Another composite manufacturing specialist, Norco (Stand M16) will be building on many successful years of exhibiting at the show. It will be showcasing its composite design and manufacturing capabilities and processes and providing a selection of composite manufactured products for display, focusing on small carbon components and large lightweight structures.

The company’s managing director, Mark Northey and composites director, Henry Nicholson-Cole, will available to talk to attendees face-to-face about any composite requirements.

Norco has been operating since 1985 in Poole, Dorset and specialises in large composite structures and GRP mouldings for end users across the globe. Its facilities span across six sites with an overall capacity of 130,000ft² and it employs over 170 skilled workers that are trained to NVQ standards.

Close by, OB2B Industrial Marketing & PR (Stand L24) is exhibiting again at this key annual industry event. Now in its 10th year of business, with clients in Europe, the Middle East, America, China and Australia, OB2B serves both multinationals and SMEs across the manufacturing supply chain. The OB2B team provides cost-effective, technically-based, industrial marketing and press release support, which helps companies to secure new business and grow sales faster.

The company specialises in promoting metals, polymers, composites, engineering plastics and structural adhesives. It’s founder, Nigel O’Dea, has BSc. (Hons) degree in Materials Science, combined with 28 years of blue-chip multinational business experience in senior sales and marketing roles. This gives him the ability to quickly understand the technical aspects of a client’s product or service, from raw materials and processing to finished parts, and then produce engaging, technically accurate marketing content.

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 company website, E-marketing, producing digital and printed sales tools, handling exhibitions and events, promotional and advertising support, as well as news and technical application story writing for editorial in target sector print and online media.

As part of the outsourced marketing services provided, OB2B will recommend, negotiate and deliver promotional packages on behalf of clients to raise brand awareness, attract more interest and secure new orders.

Company founder & director, Nigel O’Dea comments: “Companies that benefit from outsourcing to OB2B typically have limited time or in-house marketing expertise or need particular specialist help with PR writing and circulating news and topical application stories to gain editorial coverage in specialist magazines and websites.”

Moving on, Airbond (Stand J2), experts in the science of fibre splicing and its applications, will be introducing a range of new developments at this year’s show. Products being demonstrated include Model 302, a fixed-position splicer for waste yarn recovery to reduce factory costs. The system boasts yarn counts up to 9,000 tex and works by enabling the manufacturer to rewind partly used bobbins of yarn, ‘shorts’, to join one to another, until a full-weight bobbin is produced. The full-weight bobbin can then be used to produce another product – ideal where cost and waste savings are paramount in lower quality applications.

Another Airbond development is Model 307, a twin-chamber splicer for upmost strength splices for yarn counts up to 4800 tex, a new and improved lightweight design ideal for use in an everyday factory environment, replacing an older model well established in the composites industry.

Airbond has invested heavily in R&D and its patented technology to deliver game-changing improvements in operating costs for yarn processors in the composites industries. Previously splicing carbon or glass fibres with compressed air turned the fibres to dust as they were so brittle, even though strong longitudinally.

This research led to machines, which for the first time spliced modern composite materials and Airbond became the only company making pneumatic splicers for the full range of yarns and tows used for composites manufacturing. The innovation in these machines lies in control of the air with newly-developed accessories.

On (Stand N26), the PRF Composites team will be presenting an innovative prepreg range and new UD prepreg manufacturing process, introduced to the market earlier this year.

Following the commissioning of the company’s new UD prepreg line, PRF have now launched its new RP542-4 prepreg system for woven and UD materials. Designed as an intermediately toughened system – complementing PRF’s RP542-1 and super-toughened RP549 systems - RP542-4 is producing excellent results on unidirectional and woven carbon fabrics. The PRF team will be discussing this new product alongside its full range of prepreg materials with visitors at the show.

PRF: Innovative prepregs

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.

In the neighbouring aisle, Rockwood Composites (Stand M34), experts in the design and manufacture of composites components using compression and bladder moulding, will be showcasing its capabilities at the event.

The Devon-based company designs and produces composite components for a wide range of sectors. This year alone, Rockwood has partnered with HAECO Cabin Solutions to manufacture tooling for HAECO’s Eclipse seat shells. Eclipse is a new line of premium products which will redefine short-haul business class and long-haul premium economy with a patented ‘staggered’ seating arrangement. This arrangement provides a similarly luxurious experience to that found on long-haul business class flights, while also improving the airline’s route economics.

Also close by, R-Tech Materials (Stand L66) says it has recently become the first test laboratory in the UK to be awarded the prestigious Fit4Nuclear badge of recognition. This award, developed and assessed by the Nuclear Advanced Materials Research Centre (NAMRC), is designed to recognise organisations that meet the business excellence requirements of the nuclear supply chain. The Fit4Nuclear assessment covered the whole of R-Tech Materials’ business, including its steel testing and consultancy businesses, as well as its industry-leading composites testing facility.

As part of the preparation for Fit4N assessment, R-Tech Materials has announced that LRQA has granted approval of an Integrated Management System to the requirements of ISO 9001 (quality management), ISO 14001 (environmental management) and ISO 45001 (health and safety management).

The Fit4N and IMS accreditations complement R-Tech’s existing UKAS and Nadcap accreditations, which recognise the company’s technical competence for testing composite materials. These externally verified accreditations all demonstrate to its global client base its commitment as a business to ensure that it meets the highest standards of quality, health and safety and environmental management.

In the next aisle, fibre handling specialist and custom machine builder, Cygnet Texkimp (Stand K32) will highlight its composites manufacturing technologies alongside its traditional creel machinery at the show.

The Cheshire-based engineering business has a 40-year history of engineering and product development in the UK where it is best-known for its fibre unwinding creels. But in the last decade, the company has also invested heavily in its portfolio of filament winding, prepreg, coating, laminating and slitting machinery. It now attributes more than half of its annual sales to the global composites market where its technologies are used to manufacture high quality composite materials and parts for the automotive, aerospace, energy and industrial sectors.

The company will feature its full range of machinery and highlight the benefits of its high tolerance, reverse-roll coating machine, which is capable of creating low coat weight films of less than 5gsm for the aerospace-quality prepreg market, as well as its high-volume, self-calibrating Flatline creel with patented tensioning mechanism.

It will also emphasise the reliability and speed of its prepreg technologies, which have been engineered to perform with high levels of consistency and output, to deliver prepreg materials of optimum quality, weight and thickness.

Following the success of Sharp & Tappin’s, Compcut 200 advanced composite plate saw, the Devon-based company is launching its new Compcut PCR 600 Router at this year’s show. The router, showcased on (Stand M54), has been developed from a proof of concept development programme run over the last three years in conjunction with the National Composites Centre, Bristol.

The test and trial results have led to the creation of what is essentially a ‘hybrid’ machining solution combining both routing and CNC milling functions to meet the challenge of cutting high precision ‘dog bone’ and open hole compression test samples from an ever-increasing range of complex composite materials including challenging ceramic matrixes.

Sharp & Tappin has applied the same market approach to the PCR Router, that underpins the versatile Compcut 200 plate saw - whereby the company has successfully created a compact, easy to use machine that provides access to an affordable, high quality, composite cutting solution. A benefit that small in-house test centres and R&D departments throughout the UK have been quick to recognise.

The PCR Router will therefore be available as a ‘complete solution package’ where the unit itself comes with a comprehensive range of cutting tools, plus a suite of machining programmes that like the Compcut 200, facilitate the user training process to make it quick and easy to operate.

The introduction of the Compcut 200 not only complements Sharp & Tappin’s overall Compcut range, but uniquely creates and satisfies a niche market. The company’s product development process deliberately sets out to combine input from customers, test centres and internal expertise to offer very viable machining solutions, and it is hoped that the PCR Router will continue this trend. Both the PCR Router and Compcut 200 machines will be running live demonstrations on stand throughout the show.

Leading CNC machine tool builder, CMS (Stand O14) will showcase many of the recent advancements introduced to its technology. 2019 sees the launch of the CMS Antares K, a re-engineered version of this well-known 5-axis CNC machining centre complete with many new features.

The most significant of these includes: the option of a high-pressure flood coolant system with integrated swarf management and conveyor; a new design of steel-work 2,500mm x 1,700mm with T slots for work clamping; NC rotation control of the 20kW synchronous spindle which has HSK 63A connection; up to 32 toolchange positions; full roof to assist with noise reduction and swarf containment with automatic opening/closing to allow access for loading/unloading heavier components and fixtures via crane. The Antares K also has a 1,700mm Y-axis which is 200mm longer than the standard version of machine.

All machine versions in the CMS range are supplied with a 21.5-inch industrial grade touchscreen monitor with integrated status bar and CMS Active software. The Active software is the interface between the operator and machine and simplifies many of the functions necessary to operate and manage the machine on a daily basis.

CMS Connect software is the IoT platform developed by the Group to manage the requests of Industry 4.0. This platform displays, analyses, monitors and collects data in real-time. This information can then be used to make decisions for production planning helping to increase productivity whilst reducing operating and maintenance costs keeping down time to a minimum.

Aro PR and Marketing (Stand K70), specialists in raising the profile of composites, scientific and advanced engineering companies, is showcasing its ‘Outsourced Marketing’ service at the show. The company covers every aspect of a traditional public relations agency from media relations and content writing to social media management and event management.

This year, it has worked with some big names in the aerospace, composites and engineering sectors and has organised the launch event of a chemical treatment line for a global aerospace and defence company.

Billy McKenna, managing director says: “We look forward to expanding our Outsourced Marketing service to a larger audience and showcasing Aro’s capabilities. Over the past six months, we have grown with the addition of a new account manager and senior account executive. We can’t wait to meet potential and existing customers at the show again this year.”

The same aisle sees SHD Composite Materials (Stand K10) at the leading edge of advanced composite prepreg materials as manufacturers of a wide range of tooling and prepregs suitable for autoclave, press and oven curing up to 1.5m width.

After another year of sustained growth, the company has acquired a manufacturing facility in America, SHD Composite Materials, Inc., offering the same full range of SHD products that are available from SHD’s UK and Slovenia plants.

In the last 12 months, further developments have been made by the R&D department into a bio-based range of prepregs. This includes PS200 for battery box applications and FR308, a phenolic-alternative, non-toxic and fire-retardant product ideal for rail and aerospace interior applications.

Formulated to give extended out-life without compromising performance, these tooling systems are designed to cure at low-to-medium temperatures whilst giving the potential for high temperature tooling. SHD’s OPS75 panel system is said to work well with these tooling systems to give a new format tooling for the production of Class A automotive panels.

With a wealth of experience in the composites industry, SHD says it is ideally placed to be a composite prepreg partner for both high- and low-volume projects in a variety of global market sectors and applications.

Finally, Belotti (Stand O58) will present its 3- and 5-axis CNC machining centres for milling and trimming of composites and light alloys, together with its official distributor, Cannon Shelley. Interested visitors will get the chance to experience the brand’s universe which comprises cutting-edge, high performance solutions, services and its values over its 40-year history.

Belotti’s reliable solutions are said to assure high performances and productivity, together with precision and quality, particularly with extremely detailed components. The company’s offer is especially suited for the composite industry, where it is well-known for its combination of rigorous approach to technology and passionate dedication towards each project. Belotti’s CNC range is 100% designed and assembled in Italy in order to meet the highest requirements of many application sectors.

Distributed in approximately 60 countries worldwide, its CNC centres are constantly improved, and often involve highly-customised solutions. Belotti’s approach consists of constant tests on its own machines; the ability of learning from its international success stories as well as challenges; the intention to follow and even anticipate trends in industrial environments that are always smarter, more connected and definitely collaborative. The UK is an important market for the company, which keeps growing its business and awareness in this area. Thanks to the successful and long-established partnership with UK agent, Cannon Shelley, Belotti can supply new technologies and advanced solutions together with reliable, technical support to the UK’s aerospace, automotive, composites and general trade industries.

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