June 2018

44 45 bonded together with a fluid cement that hard- ens over time, and is used more than any other man-made material on the planet. One of the most common and familiar composites is fiber- glass, in which small glass fibers are embedded within a polymeric material, normally an epoxy or polyester. The glass fiber is relatively strong and stiff, but also brittle, whereas the polymer is duc- tile, but also weak and flexible. Thus, the resulting fiberglass is relatively stiff, strong, flexible, and ductile. According to Tom Dobbins, ACMA’s President, the Association has its roots in two earlier orga- nizations. “One root of the tree is the Fiberglass Fabricators Association, which was made up of small fiberglass fabricators and was original- ly formed in 1979 to network and share ideas and overcome problems. Like all associations, they wanted to come together to do what they couldn’t do on their own. The other root of the organization goes back to the old Society of the Plastics Industry (founded in 1937). There was a composites division within that organization. Around the late ‘90s or early 2000s, the two groups merged and became the American Com- posites Manufacturers Association.” “Again,” he continues, “the idea was that the in- dustry should be unified to be able to speak with one voice and to work together to forward our major goals, which are: to provide education to AMERICAN COMPOSITES MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION the industry at all levels – from the worker on the plant floor to the executive in the C-suite; to provide information and market intelligence throughout the companies; and to provide leg- islative and regulatory advocacy to make sure that we have commonsense regulations and legislation. The final, and, arguably, the premier mission of the organization, is market growth and development – to help grow the compos- ites market.” Today, the ACMA has about 500 members out of approximately 3,000 composite manufac- turers in the U.S. and Canada. But Dobbins says that, whether or not a company is member, the Association represents all of them in the work that it does: “So, when we open markets, we open them for all of them.When we fix a reg- ulation, we do it for all of them.We represent companies that are doing high performance work in aerospace and defense, and companies that are making boats and bathtubs.We’re the voce for the entire industry.”