Training Key to Composite Industry’s Future

Commercial aircraft experience lightening strikes on average every 10,000 hours, according to a presentation developed by Lou Dorworth, chief technical instructor for Abaris Training Resources. It’s no wonder, then, that repairing composites ranging from aircraft to wind turbine blades is a priority. Scott Beckwith, president of BTG Composites, led the seminar “Training the Next Generation of Composites Repair Engineers” for Dorworth, who was unable to attend the educational session as part of “Taking Composites to a Higher Level”.

Prior to covering the importance of repairs, Beckwith mentioned the common types of damage to composites. These include minor scratches and dings, as well as damage to the inner and outer layers, to the sandwich area and throughout the structure.

“The goal of composite repair is to reinstall and rebuild the fiber load path through the structure,” said Beckwith. “The ideal repair would match the original properties. But there are typically trade-offs.” He talked about the pros and cons of common repair methods, including bolted doubler, co-bonded doubler, stepped co-bonded and tapered-scarf co-bonded repairs.

Training composites repair engineers for the future is critical. “Larger and more complex composite primary structures are today’s big challenge,” said Beckwith. “Innovative repair techniques and methodologies will need to be explored.”

Green Manufacturing

Composites Firms Now Have USDA-Certified Way to Promote “Green” Products

Until now, many composites firms that offer products that include a percentage of biological or renewable agricultural materials have relied on their own marketing strategies to promote their green initiatives.

That’s about to change, announced Ron Buckhalt, manager of the BioPreferred Program at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). During an educational session at COMPOSITES, he unveiled details about a new consumer label that will certify biobased products and help firms promote them.

Under the voluntary labeling program, biobased products that meet the BioPreferred requirement—25 percent of biobased material based on molecular weight—will carry a distinctive label for easier identification by government, businesses and consumers.

“This is about increasing the amount of environmentally friendly content and new-carbon products in the marketplace,” Buckhalt said. “This new program is designed to empower the consumer to take into account that a product or package contains a verified amount of renewable biological ingredients.”

Attendees were eager to apply for the USDA-backed labeling program, which will be between $600-800 to apply. The program is scheduled to launch the end of February or beginning of March.

To read more about the label program, including details about eligibility and certification, visit