Laura Gray is the director at Springboro, Ohio-based Renegade Materials Corporation, a manufacturer of prepregs, adhesives, resins and fibers, founded in 2008. Through funding from the Ohio Third Frontier Wright Program, Renegade has partnered with the University of Dayton Research Institute (URDI) for composite material R&D within a brand new state-of-the-art facility.
What sector of the composites industry do you focus?
Aerospace composites are a high growth market. In general, military, commercial and general aviation airplanes, helicopters, UAVs and space vehicles are all incorporating these light-weight, high-strength materials. We are primarily in the aerospace industry, with the focus on military and commercial airlines, especially the U.S. Air Force and NavAir. The aerospace industry is strong right now, especially here in Ohio. Airbus and Boeing are reporting record growth and there is continued support from military programs, which gives composites a lot of room for growth.
Why is nanotechnology a trend in the composites industry?
Within aerospace especially, companies, universities and R&D facilities are working to create a lighter multi-functional material that will make aircraft more fuel efficient. This is big for the aerospace industry.
How did Renegade begin its collaboration with UDRI?
We received funding from the Ohio Third Frontier Wright Program, which is a granting agency in the State of Ohio that we heard about through the Dayton Development Coalition.
The proposals requested by the Third Frontier were for how composites materials transition from a research lab (like the UDRI) to another environment (our company) to produce a “multi-functional” end user product. The hope for the collaboration was to create advanced composite materials and be the corridor for new job growth.
Has any R&D come out of the partnership?
Dr. Khalid Lafdi from the UDRI has been developing this composite for several years from government funding sources, mainly the Department of Defense. The composite manufactured is called a “fuzzy fiber”. This fiber is a fabric that is up to 60 inches wide and is the first “Nano Adaptive Hybrid Fabric.”
How has the composites industry impacted the revitalization of manufacturing in Ohio?
Programs funded by the Ohio Third Frontier Wright Program are designed to revamp industries that have been hit hard by current economic conditions. Ohio used to be a big center for manufacturing but over the years the industry has been hit hard and the workforce was depleted. To utilize the great workforce that had already been established, funding for projects that produce better composites has created new jobs for the industry. Hopefully this is just the beginning.