As an association trying to support and promote the use of graphene over the last half-decade, The Graphene Council has rightly focused on the interests and developments of the graphene research community as well as those companies marketing graphene materials. In addition, the Council has also sought to serve as an educational platform to help inform other vertical industries about the impact graphene can make on their businesses.
The Graphene Council recently got a boost to its knowledge base on how graphene is perceived by its largest commercial market: composites. Composites One, the leading supplier in North America of materials and solutions to advanced composites manufacturers, recently joined The Graphene Council as a corporate member. Composites One positions itself as a team of composites experts that can provide insights on the latest advanced materials ranging from advanced fibers, to high-performance thermosets and thermoplastic systems, prepregs, and specialty core materials. The Graphene Council believes Composites One's expertise should reinforce its own knowledge that can then be distributed throughout our community.
To start this knowledge sharing, we took the opportunity to ask Jason Gibson, the Chief Applications Engineer at Composites One, a little bit about their business, how they came to graphene and what kind of outlook the company has for graphene in the composites market.
Q: Could you tell us a bit more about Composites One business, i.e. what kind of composites are you making and for what applications?
A: As North America’s leading provider of solutions for advanced composites manufacturers, Composites One stands ready to assist you, whatever your needs. We utilize the broadest portfolio of advanced raw materials to build comprehensive solutions, bringing you multiple options to meet your needs. Composites One supports our offering with strong technical expertise, along with local service and storage for reduced lead times. We are uniquely capable of handling complex requirements.
Our network of 41 stocking centers throughout the U.S. and Canada, including AS9120 and prepreg freezer locations, along with local delivery on our own fleet of trucks, ensures that your products are there when you need them. All of this is supported by a dedicated team of advanced composites specialists and our 80+ local technical sales representatives.
Q: What are some of the more advanced materials that Composites One has investigated for possibly integrating into your composite offerings?
A: From advanced fibers, to high-performance thermoset and thermoplastic systems, prepregs, specialty core materials, and ancillary products, we have the broadest product offering in the industry. Our Advanced Composites product managers are specialists in epoxy resin, prepreg, carbon fiber, high performance core, and many other advanced composites solutions.
Q: What made you consider using graphene as a material for your composites, i.e. have you seen other composite manufacturers employing the material, or is it simple due diligence for all emerging materials?
A: We have seen graphene enhance many of the physical properties across the portfolio of resin systems we distribute. Specifically, we've seen improved toughness, modulus and strength improvements allowing us to fill the needs of engineers and designers at many of our customers. Composites One focuses on evaluating and distributing cutting edge products that allow us to help our customers meet their goals of improved products.
Q: Can you outline the process by which you would need to test to see if graphene, or any other new material, could be, or should be, integrated into your composites?
A: Composites One works in partnership with our suppliers, industry organizations and academic resources to vet and validate many nano-particles, including graphene. We maintain a portfolio of diverse nano-particle products that enable us to provide objective solutions to our customers' needs. This allows us to focus on an optimized solution based on the unique requirements of our customer.
Q: Based on your initial impressions of graphene, where are you expecting the material to fit into your product offerings?
A: We offer graphene in masterbatch form in multiple resin platforms, but focused mainly in our epoxy offerings. Loadings can vary depending on the desired end results, and offering the masterbatch in the resin side of the epoxy allows for alternative hardening and additive solutions. We have seen these products have success in multiple markets including sports and recreation, oil and gas, automotive and aerospace.
Q: At this point, what seems to be the issues that remain unclear about graphene, i.e. industry standards, how it will actually integrate into your composites, etc.?
A: Implementing these products into an industrial manufacturing process can be difficult. Composites One has extensive experience in the process-ability of the nanoparticle enhancements we offer. We do this in order to help our customers get over the usual hurdle of incorporating it into their manufacturing process. It can be difficult to implement these solutions and our breadth and depth of experience in this product lines allows us to partner with our customers and help them move forward with minimal difficulties.