Do you see composites as thriving or failing in your sector and why?
Composites are thriving. There is a strong need for lighter and stronger planes, trains, cars, trucks, sporting equipment, medical devices, and so on. Composites are strong and durable with a lot of design flexibility which can be used in many market sectors. Addressing the price of raw materials and the high manufacturing cost will allow more companies to take composites mainstream. There are no limitations on the markets composites can aid, both FRP and high-performance composites. There is a huge need for both and the technology needs to catch up with the processes that are already out there so we can optimize them.
In your opinion, what would help the composites industry expand?
One major factor is awareness. Awareness is built through education, events and white papers. Education is key because, for example, if a manufacturer who uses metals begins to move into composites, they have a lot of decisions to make. Will they send composites manufacturing down the supply chain or will it go in-house? One example is an aerospace company that until recently used 97 percent sheet metal for its products. They made the decision to shift their vehicle to composites and are now deciding whether to farm-out the design and/or manufacturing work or keep it in-house. Those are tough decisions; those are the kinds of choices they have to make. To increase the market we have to help companies understand the tools available and how best to optimize them to get the results they expect.
What more would you like to see from composites and why?
Composites becoming more diversified into other industry sectors such as sports and leisure, medical devices, automotive and ship building on a larger scale, and less of a niche. There is no doubt we can build parts for these emerging markets. It is our job as an industry to make composites materials more affordable while optimizing the design, analysis and manufacturing processes so companies can bring affordable products to market faster.
What is your focus for 2011 and beyond?
In 2011, one focus will be to continue to educate the composites community. That could include companies already producing composites structures to make them more efficient or new companies entering the industry. We’ll also expand in other design and manufacturing areas to address the needs of the composites community.
How does your company stay competitive?