Highland Industries Adds Composites Division

Technical textiles manufacturer Highland Industries Inc., Kernersville, N.C., is investing $8.25 million to establish a 62,000-square-foot composites operation in Statesville, N.C., and create 29 jobs.
The Composites Division, which will be completely separate from the company’s other operations, will manufacture preforms using braiding as well as all standard textile processes. According to David Barger, product manager, composite structures, the preforms will be available to customers to finish in their own facilities, but Highland also will produce completed composite structures. “Most fabrics will be processed using resin transfer molding (RTM) or fusion. We have also developed a process to braid prepreg tow, so we’ll be advancing that technology as well,” he said.
The new division will manufacture parts and assemblies primarily for aerospace, automotive, industrial and sporting goods applications. Materials processed will include carbon fiber, aramid and fiberglass, among other composite materials.
The company has hired David J. Branscomb, Ph.D., to oversee research and development of braids and engineered composites. Branscomb, who received his doctorate from Auburn University, has developed and patented an innovative braided open-structure technology that produces a very strong trellis- or lattice-type structure. Highland now owns the associated patents, and Barger said the technology has generated interest particularly in the aerospace and automotive sectors.
The Statesville facility will house $4 million in new equipment including braiding and filament winding machinery, autoclaves, ovens and Gerber cutting tables, among other machinery. All braiders will be equipped with robotic controls. The facility is expected to be 90-percent operational by August and fully operational by October.
Highland Industries is a subsidiary of Japan-based Takata Corp., a Tier 1 automotive supplier that has more than 50 companies in 20 countries on five continents.
May 27, 2014