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INTERVIEW - Sontipee Aimmanee, President, Thai Composite Association

News International-French

1 Jul 2019

The Thai Composites Association was established to be a centre for companies, specialists and individuals interested in composite materials. The core objective of TCA is to enhance the competitiveness of the Thai composites industry to meet the local demand and compete internationally. JEC Composites Magazine asked its President, Sontipee Aimmanee, about his vision of the market and its next challenges.

JEC Composites Magazine: Can you give us a summary of your background in the world of composites?

INTERVIEW - Sontipee Aimmanee, President, Thai Composite Association
Sontipee Aimmanee: I earned a Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Delaware (USA) working at the Center for Composite Materials on a new type of composite sandwich structure with a foam-filled web core. I then enrolled in a Ph.D. programme in Mechanics Engineering at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, researching into the modelling of laminated piezoelectric composite devices with multi-stable configurations. After finishing the graduate schools, I started working as a lecturer at the Department of Mechanical Engineering 15 years ago, teaching and conducting research into the mechanics of composite materials, sandwich structures, structronics, damage and failure of heterogeneous materials, and finite element analysis. Some examples of my previous research work are the design and fabrication of a composite container for a six-wheel truck, the design and fabrication of a composite manhole cover, as well as the design and fabrication of a carbon fibre wheel.

JEC Composites Magazine: What made you apply for the association’s Presidency?
Sontipee Aimmanee: The Presidency of the Thai Composite Association (TCA) is a challenging role and duty due to the need to keep a balance between the rapidly evolving world composites technologies in both industries and academia and the promotion of local demands for composite products and standards in Thailand. My motivation is to build sustainability in the development of the Thai composite society by synergizing these two areas.

JEC Composites Magazine: Do you have some information to share about the composites market in Thailand?
Sontipee Aimmanee: The composites market in Thailand has been steadily growing over the last two decades. More companies are paying attention and becoming involved in this business. More composite products have been made in Thailand either for use domestically or for export to neighbouring countries. The total income of the present TCA members is estimated to be over 30 million dollars annually. This indicates that opportunities in the composite market are still prospering.

JEC Composites Magazine: What are the strengths and weaknesses of Thailand in this area?
Sontipee Aimmanee: The strengths of Thailand in the composites area are threefold. First, Thailand is at the centre of ASEAN in terms of geographic location, so it is very convenient to connect with neighbouring countries and expand opportunities in the composite markets. Second, there is still plenty of room for new composite players in Thailand. The Thai government’s current policy promoting investment in targeted industries such as next-generation automotive, aviation and logistics will open a new window on the composite supply chain. Lastly, Thai composite makers are good at what they are doing. They are working on strong, light, and beautiful products as desired by worldwide customers. The major weakness of Thailand in this area is the lack of national standards for some composite products, which usually highly depend on raw materials and manufacturing processes. Unqualified products with unreasonably cheap prices would discredit the other composite industries.  

JEC Composites Magazine: What are your goals as head of the association?
Sontipee Aimmanee: I would like to achieve three goals as the president of TCA. One, increase the association’s activities for our members. Two, try to raise the association's status to be one of the leading national institutions. And, three, encourage related organizations to develop more industrial standards involving composite products.  

JEC Composites Magazine: You are familiar with the world of education, what is the country’s situation in composite training?
Sontipee Aimmanee: TCA have worked on composite training for several years. Many universities and vocational schools have also educated students in composite materials. The voices and responses of the trainees and students are very positive. Other advanced topics in composite training such as AFP, 3D printing or 4D printing should grow interest for Thai industries.
 
JEC Composites Magazine: What are TCA's relationships with other associations in the region?
Sontipee Aimmanee: We signed an MoU with the Korea Institute of Carbon Convergence Technology (KCtech) at the beginning of this year. We are planning to pay a visit to the Japan Society for Composite Materials in the near future. In the meantime, we have a good relationship with JEC as a close partner. Our plan is to extend networks and connections with other composite associations.

JEC Composites Magazine: Do you have a word for the composite professionals who would like to settle in Thailand?
Sontipee Aimmanee: We welcome all professionals from composite-related organizations to Thailand. Here we are waiting for opportunities to develop something interesting in composites. I hope you consider Thailand as a new destination for your next composites arena.