In his “Overview of Composites Manufacturing” session, Brent Strong, Ph.D., professor emeritus at Brigham Young University, shared eight rules for composites manufacturing when working either with FRP or advanced materials. Later in the day, Chad Duty, Ph.D., from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, gave a crash course on one of the industry’s newest technologies – additive manufacturing.

David F. Erb, Jr., senior R&D project manager at the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center, attended the tutorial “Thermoplastics Composites Technology” led by Arnt Offringa of Fokker Aerostructures. “His knowledge of thermoplastics processing was extensive and provided insight that will be valuable to our future research at the University of Maine,” says Erb.

3. Tackling New Technologies

New manufacturing methods and materials are storming the industry, and CAMX provided attendees a thorough look at many of them through technical paper and educational sessions. Several speakers explored the potential of new technologies ranging from additive manufacturing to out-of-autoclave manufacturing.

Paul Kladitis, a senior research scientist at the University of Dayton Research Institute, discussed one of those up-and-coming technologies – nanotechnology – in an educational session. Kladitis, the Carbon Materials Group Leader in the Multi-Scale Composites & Polymers Division at the University of Dayton, highlighted the use of nano-reinforcements in thermoset and thermoplastics.

Such technologies aren’t as far off as some may think. “Useful applications [for nanocomposites] in other industries, such as batteries and electronics, have recently helped nanotechnology mature in scale and price,” says Mike Nemeth, vice president of sales and marketing at OCSiA1. “Manufacturers who previously considered nanocomposites, even just a few years ago, are now reevaluating their role in creating next-generation products with improved conductivity and durability.”

With more than 300 educational sessions at CAMX, there was just one problem: “The selection of educational and technical paper sessions made it difficult to decide which sessions to attend,” says Beck. “Hopefully with the CD provided by CAMX, I can review the sessions I missed.”

4. Training Tomorrow’s Professionals

A recurring topic of discussion, whether you wandered the show floor or chatted with peers at a networking reception, was the importance of training the next generation of composites professionals. CAMX 2014 featured nearly 30 exhibitors focused on education and training, many of them congregating in the University Pavilion on the show floor. In addition, several sessions covered education and workforce development.

In a session entitled “Education Requirements to Support Market Growth,” Darren Greeno revealed how the nearly two-year-old Composites Washington Training Consortium is strengthening the composites training infrastructure across the state. Greeno is the dean of professional technical education at Bellingham Technical College, one of 10 community and technical colleges (CTCs) involved in the consortium. Working hand-in-hand with industry partners, the CTCs offer much-needed training in materials handling, fabrication, trimming, repair, assembly and more.