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SMEs joining forces to promote the expansion of composites

News International-French

21 Jul 2011

For 20 years now, a group of SMEs and research centres has been pooling experience and expertise to provide composite users and specifiers with the most up-to-date knowledge in the field of advanced composite processing technologies.

(Published on May 2005 – JEC Magazine #17)




Created in 1985, the Club Composites +20 brings together a number of partners having clocked up more than 20 years experience in the field of composite materials (processing and behaviour). Business managers, design engineers and researchers decided to pool their skills and concerns as composite material processors in order to define, co-fund and develop joint research programmes. Mastering the use of raw materials, improving manufacturing processes, providing solutions to technical, environmental and regulatory problems put forward by customers and authorities… no stone is left unturned.



Co-opted by a new business creator, a founding member of the Club Composites+20, it was with great interest that I discovered the experience of the processors involved in other technologies and on other markets. Not only is it possible to address research and development issues directly related to problems encountered on the job, but also take advantage of the vast range of skills offered by the Ecole des Mines de Douai and the CETIM.


Their main objective is to participate in and contribute to the expansion of composite materials through a pragmatic approach. Rationalising, increasing reliability and developing knowledge are the key concepts behind all actions implemented.


The first programme dealt with the longterm behaviour and ageing of composites, especially under environmental stress-cracking conditions. In parallel, the possibilities of monitoring and identifying degradation mechanisms by scanning electron microscopy were investigated and macroscopic characterisation techniques targeting the quality of the fibre/matrix interface of industrial composites were developed .


Another project focused on the development of a surface qualification system by image analysis, designed to detect porosities on composite parts directly on the production line. The relations between processing parameters, surface condition and dielectric properties were also investigated. More recently, a project was dedicated to upgrading reground material resulting from recycled thermoset composites (production and end-of-life waste). The potential for replacing “regular” mineral fillers used in some manufacturing processes with these recycled materials was therefore evaluated.



As a member of the Club since its foundation, I’m very much aware of the efforts made in research that directly concern our fields of expertise. On several occasions, the results of such research have made it possible to improve our knowledge of materials and processing techniques to enhance the quality of our products. Without a doubt, belonging to this Club gives our companies a competitive edge.



After a long stint in the iron and steel industry, I decided to move into the field of composite materials to explore new development opportunities. The Club Composites +20 covers a broad range of practical technical issues thanks to the diversity of the member companies and, owing to its two research centres, it is possible to develop expertise in a comprehensive manner, which only large companies could afford until now. I would therefore encourage all SMEs to join us in this type of approach.


The members of the Club Composites + 20

Four industrial companies: Carlier Plastiques and Carlier CITP

With nearly 50 years experience, these two companies have become leaders in their fields. Carlier CITP manufactures and markets large-size thermosetting & reinforced thermoplastic composite parts. The company manufactures, installs and services composite tanks, scrubbers, stacks, ducts and pipes for the chemical, water, gas and fume treatment, food and agricultural markets. For 15 years now, Carlier Plastiques has manufactured continuous laminated sandwich panels – the Panolit trademark – intended for the European industrial bodywork market.


Hermex has more than 40 years of experience in the manufacture of large-diameter, centrifugally-cast tanks and silos made of glass-reinforced polyester resin, which are integrated in more or less complicated storage facilities.

Plastiremo Aerazur
For over 50 years, Plastiremo, a subsidiary of the Zodiac Group, has designed, developed and produced composite parts for civil and military aircraft by compression and autoclave moulding.




Stratiforme Industries
For 50 years, Stratiforme Industries and its subsidiaries, Compreforme and Stratiforme Polska, have manufactured composite parts for the railways, industrial, building and military sectors. Stratiforme specialises in large flame-resistant structural parts produced by contact moulding, wet lay-up and resin transfer moulding technologies.



Two research centres:
Ecole des Mines de Douai – Polymers & Composites
Technology Department

Since 1983, this laboratory has been training engineers, implementing technological research and offering technical assistance not only focusing on the analysis, modelling and optimisation of polymer and composite processing technologies (injection, compression, infusion, filament winding, extrusion, etc.) but also on process control and the influence of processing parameters upon the microstructure and behaviour of manufactured parts including their life cycle (recycling, upgrading).


CETIM – Polymer & Composite Engineering Department
Cetim (Centre Technique des Industries Mécaniques) provides technology transfer, consulting, training, expertise, technical support and development services in the fields of design, process simulation, industrialisation, testing, characterisation and failure analysis of polymer and composite parts.


As its industrial members can certify the Club Composites +20 has clearly proven over time the relevance and effectiveness of its approach, and more specifically, the ability of SMEs to unite and develop research of common interest. The advantage of pooling their concerns and resources to meet customers’ needs has been illustrated time and time again. This is not an exclusive club but you do need 20 years of experience in composite materials to qualify. Partners involved in complementary technologies and markets are welcome, whether French or European.