If there’s been one constant in my 35-plus years in the polymer industry, it’s change. Composite materials, technologies and manufacturing processes are continually evolving. That was abundantly evident on the show floor and in educational sessions at CAMX 2022 in Anaheim, Calif., in October.
The excitement at CAMX underscored my belief that our industry is gaining momentum after the COVID-19 pandemic. There are some lingering impacts, but we’ve made another huge step forward. The ACMA Board of Directors revisited and revised the association’s strategic plan last year, and it’s put us on the path forward. We are engaging industry and political leaders to help ensure that composites become the sustainable material of choice. (The Legislative & Regulatory column on page 28 discusses two recently passed bills, the CHIPS and the Science Act, which create opportunities for composites.)
Sustainability is a focal point of ACMA’s new strategic plan. Under the plan, ACMA’s Climate Impact Project (CIP) will provide member companies with education and resources to succeed in a sustainability driven marketplace. This commitment was on display at CAMX, which featured sessions on the industry outlook for sustainability, the concept of net zero and much more. Beginning in 2023, Composites Manufacturing magazine will include a monthly column devoted to sustainability – and how ACMA can help you reduce climate impacts and market composite products as a sustainable solution – written by John Schweitzer, senior advisor to the president at ACMA.
One example of a sustainable composite solution is highlighted in this issue’s annual coverage of university R&D (page 17). Researchers at the University of Tennessee Knoxville have developed composite panel envelope retrofits to make homes more energy efficient. It’s one of four research projects covered in the article.
While these forward-thinking projects may not affect your business today, it’s important to stay informed about industry advancements. Earlier this fall, I attended Ceramics Expo 2022 in Cleveland and learned about the latest innovations in advanced ceramics and glass. One that caught my attention was ceramic prepregs. I didn’t know they existed! Since then, I’ve been contemplating what would happen if you mixed ceramic materials and carbon fiber to create a hybrid composite.