PARIS — January 28, 2013 — This year, 10 companies and their partners will receive an awards at JEC
Europe – Composites Show and Conferences (March 12-14, 2013) for their composites innovations. The
jury has selected the best composite breakthroughs, based on their technical interest, market
potential, partnerships, financial & environmental impact and originality. The decision to give
prominence to these projects was based on their atypical nature and various noteworthy aspects.
In 2013, the winners were selected from the following categories: Raw materials,
Thermoplastics, Multifunctional materials, Machining & Tool, Building & Construction,
Aeronautics, Automotive, Wind Energy, Sports & Leisure and a Special prize.
The JEC Innovation Awards ceremony will take place on Tuesday March 12 at 5:00 pm on the JEC
Show (at the Agora) and will be open to all exhibitors and visitors.The ceremony is sponsored by
CYTEC, JEC Composites Magazine, Aviation Week and Innovation & Industrie.
Category: Raw materials
Winner: BAC2 Limited (UK)
Name of Product or Process: A new family of latent acid catalysts to make
pre-polymeric mixes easier to store, transport, handle and process.
Description:The development of the CSR family of latent acid catalysts was driven
by the desire to make pre-polymeric mixes easier to store, transport, handle and process during
product manufacturing. Without a latent catalyst to control polymerization, the storage life of
pre-polymeric mixes may be anything from a few seconds to a few minutes. Other catalysts that
extend storage life are available. However, they typically require temperatures above 200°C for
activation, something that is both energy-hungry and impractical with many of the materials
involved in manufacturing processes that utilise resins. Bac2 developed the CSR family of latent
acid catalysts to address the above issues. The key innovation was to develop a family of products
that activate between 50°C and 120°C, depending on the application and the speed of cure required,
enabling them to be used with many materials and processes. Critically, the catalysts do not have a
detrimental effect on the mould flow or other characteristics of the resins with which they are
used. Originally developed for use with Bac2’s electrically conductive ElectroPhen polymer resin,
the CSR family of catalysts has since been expanded to include formulations that retard and control
the curing of phenol-formaldehyde resoles, furan resins, urea and melamine formaldehyde resins.
Using CSR catalysts, the storage life of pre-polymeric mixes has been extended to over 3
months, simplifying storage, transportation and materials handling. Process efficiency improvements
of 130% have been demonstrated in pultrusion. In SMC and BMC processes, room-temperature storage
life is extended to several months. CSR catalysts also enable the manufacture of inherently
flame-retardant mouldings by facilitating the production of stable phenolic and furan-based
Bac2 estimates the potential global market for its latent acid catalysts to be at least £100
million. The company has identified 3 primary sectors where the innovation offers the greatest
1. During the manufacture of wood products such as MDF, particle board and plywood, high
temperatures are used to cure the resin used for bonding the materials and to drive out moisture.
Using CSR reduces the cure time, reducing the time during which the high temperatures need to be
maintained. This in turn reduces the energy consumption and cost.
2. In abrasives manufacture, the overall temperature of the manufacturing process is reduced,
saving energy and cost.
3. In the manufacture of sheet or bulk moulded composites, for which there are applications
in everything from interior fittings in transportation to seating for stadiums, CSR can be used to
produce inherently flame-retardant products at lower temperatures than previously possible.
Winners: MVC (Brazil) & Arkema (France)
Partners: PPE (France), Chomarat (France), 3B-the fibreglass company (Belgium)
Name of Product or Process: An innovative transportation concept using a
revolutionary thermoplastic composite resin solution.
Description: Altuglas® composite resin solutions are innovative (meth) acrylic
formulations developed within a research and development partnership between Arkema and PPE. These
formulations can be used to produce (meth)acrylic thermoplastic composites reinforced with
continuous glass, carbon or flax fibres with the same low-pressure processes and equipment as those
currently used to produce thermoset composite parts. The resulting (meth) acrylic thermoplastic
composite parts show mechanical properties similar to those of parts made of thermoset materials
while presenting the major advantages of being post-thermoformable and recyclable and offering new
possibilities for composite/composite or composite/metal assemblies.
“Sofia Project – An innovative transportation concept”: The project consists in developing a
new technology for the construction of bus, train wagon, van and car bodies in an innovative and
sustainable way. The final product will be an “assembly kit” that can be assembled in a few hours
and without major tooling investments. Different kinds of technologies will be used, but the new
RTM-T process will be the main technology used for the structural body components. This composite
manufacturing process is based on traditional LRTM, but using a brand new PMMA-based thermoplastic
resin formulation developed by Arkema. This is the reason for the name RTM-T (T from
thermoplastic). The thermoplastic composite produced with this new resin will make it possible to
produce a “recyclable” main body, with lower weight (PMMA has a lower density than the thermoset
resins normally used for RTM), better mechanical properties, and at the end better surface quality
(very important for this market segment). All the main body parts will be made of a sandwich
structure with a low-density PU core, bonded together with structural adhesives. The “joint design”
has also been extensively studied to improve the adhesion power of structural adhesives, making the
assembly process as simple, quick, and intuitive as possible.
Category: Multifunctional Materials
Winner: Institut für Textiltechnik (ITA) of RWTH Aachen University (Germany)
Name of Product or Process: A thermally conductive fibre-reinforced composite
Description:The innovation combines pitch-based carbon fibres and a thermoset
resin to increase the thermal conductivity of fibre-reinforced plastics from 0.4 W/mK to 26 W/mK,
especially in the out-of-plane direction. The pitch-based carbon fibres are combined, protected
against bending and integrated into a honeycomb structure. The innovation can be integrated in
selected areas of the honeycomb, and not necessarily in all cells. Thus, money can be saved and
local properties can be modified. The fibres in the cells can also be connected to the skins of the
honeycomb sandwich to help avoid delamination. Moreover, the heat flow is guided from the in-plane
direction through the honeycomb to the other face sheet where heat is dissipated.
Composites are used more and more in applications that generate heat. Both electronic
components and the composite structure itself have to be protected and kept at lower temperatures.
The innovation can conduct heat away from heat sources or components in the desired directions. So,
metal components can be replaced by lighter fibre-reinforced plastics components. The service
temperature of the matrix system can be increased because the continuous fibres guide the heat away
from the heat source and avoid overheating.
A prototype has been built and the innovation was submitted to the German Patent Agency in
Munich.There is a need for a thermally conductive fibre-reinforced composite in the out-of-plane
direction in the air and space industry, as well as in automotive and industrial applications. The
invention can be helpful everywhere heat dissipation is needed.
Category: Machining and Tools
Winner: Cruing Italy Srl (Italy)
Name of Product or Process: A tooling solution to evacuate hot dust particles
produced during cutting operations.
Description:The Aerotech® System is a tooling solution that thoroughly evacuates
hot dust particles produced during cutting operations. By effectively air cooling the material and
cutter, it significantly reduces machining temperatures. This allows manufacturers of composite
parts to consider dry cutting their components, providing a practical alternative to machining with
Heat produced while routing creates problems for the cutter and material. Coolants or ‘wet
cutting’ methods help resolve this problem, but these fluids can have an impact on human health and
water resources. Cruing identified the need for an air-cooled dry cutting solution as an
alternative to wet cutting, and thus began developing the Aerotech System.
Anyone who wants to dry cut CFRP at high feed speed, without delamination and with a quality
edge finish, can benefit from the Aerotech System.
Many chemicals used in the composition of cutting fluids, such as biocides, anticorrosive,
antifoam and others substances, can have a negative effect on the environment. Moreover, cutting
fluids and coolants have been associated with health problems such as skin rashes, dermatitis,
esophagitis, lung disease and cancer that result from either toxicity or bacterial or fungal
The heat produced during cutting operations contributes to deteriorate tool life, with
negative effects on the quality of the finished components. Some of the materials used in today’s
industries are particularly sensitive to heat and can delaminate due to overheating. If heat is
allowed to persist, its conduction up through the CNC machine’s electrospindle can alter the
characteristics of the grease used to lubricate the electrospindle bearings. This can begin to
occur at temperatures of ~73°C, and is detrimental to bearing efficiency. It can also damage the
electrospindle. The Aerotech System air-cools the cutter and material effectively by removing dust
particles that become super-heated while cutting. This ensures that the electrospindle does not
Winner: ECM (France)
Partners: Peugeot Citroën Automobile (France), PPE (France), Cedrem (France)
Name of Product or Process: Self-supporting composite structure for a light urban
Description:The innovation is a complete, self-supporting composite structure for
a light urban electric vehicle designed and manufactured using thermoset resin and glass fibre
reinforcement. This structure replaces a “traditional” steel body-in-white, offering equivalent
mechanical behaviour and significant weight savings.The prototype meets industrial feasibility
criteria. At this stage, the use of glass fibre reinforcement results in 30 to 40% weight savings
compared to an equivalent steel structure. According to calculations, further development using
carbon fibre could bring additional weight savings.
Following a first “traditional” step using steel as the main material for the body-in-white,
the goals of the second step of the development process were:
– to design and manufacture a self-supporting composite structure using glass fibre and the
– to achieve a manufacturing process at the industrial stage that allows a daily production
of 50 to 100 vehicles;
– to minimize investment, production and assembly costs by limiting the number of parts to be
produced and integrating functional aspects in developed parts;
– to save weight while meeting the required static and dynamic performance level.
The key benefits of the innovation are: weight reduction at acceptable cost for the
automotive industry, reduced vehicle emissions due to reduced car weight, design of vehicle parts
with integrated functional aspects, significantly reduced number of parts to build a car, and
savings on investment and assembly costs.
Category: Wind Energy
Winner: SchäferRolls Gmbh & Co KG (Germany)
Partners: Institut für Verbundwerkstoffe Gmbh (IVW), MWN Niefern Maschinenfabrik
Name of Product or Process: A thick-walled filament-wound carbon fibre composite
shaft more than 8.5 metres long and nearly 1 metre in diameter.
Description:The thick-walled (about 80 mm) filament-wound carbon fibre composite
shaft is designed to carry extreme torque loads in a wind turbine drive train. It is manufactured
in about 40 hours using a customized epoxy system with a long work life.
The shaft is flexible in bending to minimize the loads arising from manufacturing tolerances
and designed to carry a very high torque load, hence its name “FlexShaft”. This was made possible
by an innovative design with a clever use of the composite material’s anisotropy. The innovative
lightweight FlexShaft torque shaft can transfer a torque load of several thousand kNm within a
restricted geometrical design space. Handling the exothermic reaction of several hundred kilograms
of epoxy resin, lasting several hours, during the manufacturing process is a task that few
specialized companies can manage. A new method was developed to allow in-situ placement of the
necessary connecting elements between the CFRP shaft and steel flanges during the manufacturing
process, allowing fabrication without additional rework and improving the overall fabrication
quality and load transfer.
After a 2-year development phase, a first full-scale prototype has been operating since
September 2012 in Envision’s new 3.6 MW two-bladed direct drive offshore wind turbine in Denmark.
The market potential is about 100 million euros.
Category: Sports and Leisure
Winner: Zodiac Recreational (France)
Partners: Dehondt – Flax Technic (France), Fimalin (France)
Name of Product or Process: New generations of ecodesigned semi-rigid boats.
Description:These new semi-rigid boats consist of an assembly between a rigid
composite hull and an inflatable float. The two boats presented were designed along the same
The project’s main objective was to reduce the environmental impact of the Bombard AirEthic
semi-rigid boat and the Zodiac Z-Concept dinghy. The AirEthic is a series-produced boat, and the
Z-Concept is a concept boat that incorporates all aspects of eco-impact reduction, including
recyclable thermoplastic materials, bio-sourced materials, clean processes and electric motor.
To reduce the composite hull’s environmental footprint, the project managers chose to produce
it using the RTM process with flax-fibre reinforcement. The AirEthic’s underwater hull and deck are
both RTM moulded with flax-fibre reinforcement. The Z-Concept’s entire hull is one-step moulded,
with the flax reinforcement on the deck side.
Zodiac has been using composite materials for this type of boat for a long time. Composites
give these boats the desired strength and low weight, along with the possibility to create complex
shapes at moderate investment and production costs. Because flax is a bio-sourced plant fibre,
using it lowers the composite’s environmental impact. It is possible to replace part of the glass
fibre reinforcement with flax.
These boats are Zodiac’s first ecodesigned models. The AirEthic project was launched in April
2012, and the boat was presented at the December 2012 International Boat Show in Paris. The
Z-Concept project got off to a start in July 2012, and the boat concept was also presented at the
Paris Boat Show.
Over the long term, consumers’ growing concerns about environmental impacts when they choose
a product and the gradual toughening of regulations on production conditions will make traditional
polyester materials and techniques obsolete, relegating them to bottom-of-the-line product
offers.The new process and these materials could eventually be applied to all Zodiac boats, since
the experience with both models shows that this is feasible for this type of boat. The principle
could also apply to most composite parts.
Category: Special Prize
Winner: BMW Group (Germany)
Name of Product or Process: LifeDrive concept: the world’s first body architecture
that is purpose designed and built for the series production of electric vehicles.
Description:Though carmakers all over the world are rushing out electric models,
BMW i’s LifeDrive architecture is the first to be custom-built for electric vehicles. In the early
1930s, progress in metal cutting and a desire for lighter, more powerful automobiles gave birth to
an innovation that would dominate motor vehicle manufacturing for many decades: the integral
monocoque body. Three quarters of a century later, at the dawn of the electric vehicle era, the BMW
i team was again facing the challenge of how to reduce a vehicle’s weight – this time to
accommodate the battery for an electric motor. The result of their deliberations was the world’s
first body architecture specifically designed and purpose-built for the series production of
electric vehicles: the LifeDrive concept. In contrast to vehicles with a monocoque body, the
LifeDrive architecture is made up of two separate functional units. The upper Life module consists
mainly of a high-strength and extremely lightweight passenger cell made of Carbon Fibre Reinforced
Plastic (CFRP). This innovative concept not only compensates for the extra weight of the battery
unit, but it also lowers the vehicle’s centre of gravity to make it a more dynamic vehicle to
drive. A lightweight design is not the only benefit LifeDrive brings. The carbon-fibre passenger
cell is exceptionally rigid and strong. Moreover, in the case of the BMW i3 there is no
space-consuming tunnel running through the middle of the vehicle, since all the power components
are housed in the drive module. As a result, passengers can enjoy streamlined seating and a
lounge-like sense of space.
Up to 2020, BMW anticipates a worldwide market share of 4 to 8% for electric vehicles (BEV
and plug-in hybrid). Furthermore, together with the German Government, BMW adheres to the target of
one million electric vehicles on German roads by 2020. Although the LifeDrive concept with its CFRP
passenger cell is a stand-alone vehicle architecture that is purpose-built for the BMW i3 and BMW
i8, other model series may also stand to benefit in the long term from the CFRP expertise that BMW
Posted on January 28, 2013
Source: JEC Group