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Strength and innovation in composites

Developments that solve problems with the potential to change markets.

21st October 2022

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Anaheim, CA, USA


The winners of the ninth annual CAMX Award were announced during the CAMX 2022 composites exhibition which took place from October 18-20 in Anaheim, California.

The award is divided into two categories– Combined Strength and Unsurpassed Innovation.

The Combined Strength Award acknowledges a product that incorporates composite materials and solves a problem through teamwork and collaboration, and the Unsurpassed Innovation Award recognises a product that incorporates low-cost materials for high-volume applications that can change the outlook of a particular market.

The 2022 Combined Strength Award winner is Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) for a new large-scale manufacturing process called AM-CM –  integrated large-scale additive manufacturing and compression moulding.

AM-CM combines the advantages of high fibre alignment that is possible in AM-printed parts with traditional CM, improving bead-to-bead interfaces and removing porosity. High fibre alignment, low porosity and selective bead placement can provide exceptional mechanical properties with precise control. In addition, an AM-produced preform can incorporate multiple materials for structural functionality, such as over-moulding, selective reinforcement and embedding electrically conductive pathways. All these benefits are possible in a very fast part production cycle time of two-minutes per part.

The 2022 Unsurpassed Innovation Award winner is Creative Composites Group for the development of its fire retardant composite utility poles for grid-hardening in fire-prone areas. The company’s FireStrong utility pole system incorporates an outer fire protection sleeve or shield layer with an inner StormStrong utility pole as the primary structure. The StormStrong inner core helps with storm hardening efforts to keep the utility grid intact when extreme weather events occur.

The pole system was developed to withstand a chaparral fire and has been independently tested to withstand 2,100°F for three minutes, which is twice the time of the average wildfire. Additionally, self-monitoring temperature recorders permit a utility company to inspect poles post-fire to gauge the level of strength retention for each pole with little to no guesswork. Previously, utility companies could only guess the strength retention post-fire, resulting in errors in replacing poles after fire exposure.

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