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Winners of 2015 ICERP-JEC Innovation Awards Programme

News International-French

30 Jan 2015

Innovation is the key to industrial progress. To encourage the innovations carried in the field of composites in India an innovation award programme was initiated in 2008 by FRP Institute and JEC group.

The Innovation Award Program encourages the Indian composite professionals and companies to focus their application of information, imagination, skill and initiative through which new ideas and processes are generated and converted into useful composite products or processes. This Innovation Award Programme gives the Indian composites professionals and companies great scope to create value to their customers and also brings recognition, not only in India but also internationally.

  • RAW MATERIALS - Epoxy vinyl ester gelcoat 

Company: Crest Composites & Plastics Pvt. Ltd (India)
Partners: Everest Composites Pvt. Ltd (India)

Resin Transfer Molding and Hand lay-up are batch processes which are used in India to make corrugated sheets. However, “batch processes” are time consuming and a lot of molds need to be employed for mass production. 

To this effect, Crest Composites has designed a Bisphenol-A based epoxy vinyl ester gelcoat to enable chemically resistant corrugated sheets in a continuous manner. The resin was formulated to control the rheological behavior (molecular weight and its distribution, poly dispersity index, etc.) and curing characteristics so that it does not prematurely start curing before being coated on the unsaturated polyester sheet which is formed with chopped strand mat. The Bisphenol-A Epoxy Methacrylate should be able to withstand the time of application onto the polyester substrate in the form of a thin film (0.4-0.5 mm) before finally curing onto the substrate. Its superior flow behavior and glass wetting properties combined with an excellent chemical resistance forms the best possible material to be used on a polyester sheet to increase its life-span in areas with corrosive environment.

The commercially used unsaturated polyester resins have limited stability when it comes to chemical attacks. A laminated layer of vinyl ester inserted in a sandwich pattern gives it an excellent life-span in extremely corrosive areas with cost effectiveness as its USP. Unfortunately, a sheet completely made up of high-end unsaturated polyester resins would solve the chemical resistance problem but would not be economically feasible.

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  • INTERMEDIATE PRODUCTS - Development of high-performance prepregs 

Company: Hindoostan Composite Solutions (India)
Partners: Advanced System Laboratory (India), Vega Auto Accessories Pvt. Ltd. (India)

Hi-tech composite fabrics made of carbon and aramid fibers have been manufactured in India. These fabrics can be used in various applications, most notably the aeronautics industry. The types of fabrics Hindoostan Mills, Technical Fabrics division has manufactured include balanced, uni-directional fabrics and other specialized products in a variety of widths. Other specific fabrics can be manufactured, such as fabrics made from silica yarn, quartz yarn and basalt, made with Hindoostan’s state of the art weaving machine. The machine can handle epoxies without solvents, cyanate esters, as well as bis-maleimids (BMI) both in continuous and discontinuous manner. Most often, the resin is an epoxy resin; however other types of resins can be used.

A high performance epoxy, BMI, has been developed for applications with high temperature performances. Cyanate esters systems were set up specifically for defense applications. Hindoostan Mills has developed prepregs with woven and multi-axial reinforcements, as unidirectional tapes in various forms based on carbon, aramid and glass fibers.

For example, Hinpreg CEA0020 is an advanced cyanate-ester prepreg developed to enable the economic manufacturing of various high performance composite applications. It has a versatile curing cycle, from 1000°C to as high as 1800°C. It was specially formulated to achieve excellent through-cure and mechanical performance as it can be combined with glass, quartz, carbon as well as aramid. The material can produce a wide range of composites from small components to large structures of excellent quality with low void content, without any need for an intermediary de-bulking process or additional dry fabric reinforcement to aid air removal.

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  • TOOLING - Low cost, textured surface for low volume production

Company: Sthenos Composites (India)
Partners: Ashland India P Ltd (India), John Deere India P Ltd (India)

Interior parts of trucks, buses like dash boards, side trims, covers, etc. and exterior parts such as fenders are routinely done in FRP due to the low production volumes and high strength offered by composites. These parts typically have smooth surfaces and show all surface defects like scratch marks, or pin holes. Because of this, these parts are usually painted over. However, the painting adds significantly to part production and packaging costs and is also a source of lot of rejection at a production level.

By texturing the visible surface of these parts, the defects can be camouflaged. Thus, the costly, rejection-prone painting process can be eliminated altogether which allows to save up to 40% of production costs.

Sthenos has developed a methodology to replicate any texture on master patterns. Subsequently the molds are made using a high gloss, zero shrink vinyl ester based tooling system provided by Ashland India P Ltd. A conformal main part is made, and is used at a later date for mold repairs or for replicating the mold surface. The mold is then released using the Chemtrend sealer and mold release agent. The part is made by spray coating the gelcoat and the subsequent hand lamination of the part.

Composite materials enabled Sthenos to make a low cost, textured surface for low volume production by keeping the cost of the final product low. The high toughness, zero shrinkage tooling system enables to create a mold surface that is long lasting and reproducible.

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  • PROCESS EQUIPMENT - Dual clamp pultrusion machine

Company: SVS HYDRAULICS LTD. (India)

Nowadays, most of the available pultrusion machines possess a profile envelope with a range in between 100mm to 1000mm. The SVS 20-Ton Dual clamp machine, however, provides a profile envelope width up to 1500mm. Thanks to this machine, it is possible to produce pultruded profiles with profile ranges up to 390mm X 1500mm. The demand for large size pultruded products has been increasing regularly, making such a machine a necessity.

The development of SVS 20Ton pultrusion plants started around August 2014. The trails were completed in Italy and were accepted by end users by September 2014. The machines have been successfully launched and will now be published about and marketed.

The SVS 20-Ton pultrusion machine represents the best compromise for quality equipment at an economical price. SVS expects a global market interest, with high demand for these machines. The first one will be installed in India.

  • TRANSPORTATION - Light weight and high strength container

Company: Composites Consulting Group (India)
Partners: N.S. Rama Rao Body Works (India)

Currently, dry, insulated and refrigerated containers made out of composite panels are being made available to customers. These panels are light in weight, have high resistance and do not need any tinkering or painting maintenance. What’s more, in order to reduce the weight of the container, NSR was very keen to convert from metal to sandwich composite containers. As NSR was new to the Composite Industry, engineers from DIAB - Composite Consulting Group (CCG) provided on-site support to develop the product from scratch. CCG also provided hand layup, vacuum bagging and core infusion training to the NSR team.
The container was manufactured separately without the chassis and then fitted into the chassis, which is different from the usual practice of building directly on the chassis. A Divinycell core was used to achieve specific thermal & structural properties thanks to the vacuum bagging and infusion process. As a result of this approach, NSR was able to reduce the weight of the container with excellent corrosion resistance, while maintaining strength and achieving higher stiffness than on the previous models.

When it comes to market potential, India has the second largest road network in the world (3.83 million km) and roads are currently the dominant mode of transportation. They carry almost 90% of the country's passenger traffic and 65% of its freight. India’s truck industry has played a major role in the Indian trade and commerce for decades. Currently, there are more than 1,300 trucks per million people.

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  • AUTOMOTIVE - Innovative CFRP tire for racing applications 

Company: Moldex Composites Pvt Ltd (India)

The development and construction of cars for racing programs is a vast endeavor. During the course of this development, different prototypes are driven for thousands of miles, which gives the possibility to test various components. Traditionally, rubber tires are used to drive these cars but this solution faced a lot of issues in data compilation due to the uneven wear of the rubber tires on the tunnel floors.

Moldex Composites was approached to complete the structural design and manufacturing of a composite-made tire. This tire’s goal was to counter the wear and tear typically experienced by the rubber tires.

The part was manufactured from aerospace-grade composites using high strength, intermediate modulus, carbon fiber in both woven and uni-directional material types. The tires face important load cases, all while having to still maintain a flexibility and softness typical of rubber. This represented a very unique challenge, considering that the prime property of carbon fiber is stiffness. The result is a tire that respects the unique aerodynamic shape which is required in the wind tunnels.

With this new combination, the car prototypes and thus the tires were able to be driven for much longer durations in the tunnel, with a more easily predictable wear. Therefore, better quality data was able to be gathered, which is a huge benefit.

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  • ART AND ARCHITECTURE - Public art installation on traffic island at Worli 

Company: Moldex Composites Pvt Ltd (India)

This project was set up thanks to renowned artist and painter Jaideep Mehrotra. He is amongst the top Indian artists who invests amongst innovative techniques and has had many shows around the world. He was approached by a leading industrial house to create public art Installations for the city of Mumbai. The goal was that the art piece should reflect something uniquely typical of Mumbai and last out doors for 99 years regardless of the weather conditions as it was to be installed on a traffic island at Worli in Mumbai.

Jaideep Mehrotra designed and conceptualized an installation based on Mumbai’s most famous icon; Sachin Tendulkar. His goal was to show an image of Sachin in a most unique way, so that it looked like him at certain angles and yet invited discussion about what it could be from other angles. Mr. Mehrotra approached Moldex Composites to assist in the manufacturing steps and provide a solution. Moldex Composites then recommended the use of an aerospace-grade aluminum alloy and quality carbon fiber sandwich panels. These were hand-laid and autoclave-cured. Moldex Composites’ 5 axis CNC was used to create a most unique and dynamic piece of art.

This art work proved to the average person that composite materials aren’t limited to aeronautical or high-end automotive applications.

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