June 2018

48 49 which are made mostly of steel, new cars will be made mostly of composites, with steel compo- nents used only where they are absolutely need- ed. “And that will change the whole design pa- rameters for the car,” he declares. “You can make very complex shapes with composites that you can’t make with steel. So, you can do a lot of part production for automotive that will eliminate steel parts and manufacturing. And, once that happens, it’s a lot easier to attach composites to composites than it is to try to work them in and replace a steel part with a composite part.” “The second market that I think is going to show tremendous growth, and Canada has been a leader in this market, is composites in infra- structure,” Dobbins adds. “The composites industry makes rebar that’s lighter and stronger than steel and is completely corrosion-proof, so it makes sense to use that over traditional materials.We see that market with the potential to really take off, quickly. In fact, one of our leading suppliers, Owens-Corning, recently purchased a company that makes rebar, so they expect this market to take off, too.” Another market that is continuing to expand is aerospace. Indeed, Boeing’s latest aircraft, the 787 Dreamliner, is made primarily out of composites. “And they’re actually going back and retrofitting the 777s,” says Dobbins.“They’re making tail assemblies out of composites; the wings are being made out of composites. So, Boeing sees the future; Ford sees the future.And although we’ve taken over boats and windmill blades and other markets,when you’re moving from a niche technology, and you see major OEMs starting to look at composites, that’s a huge change.” In terms of future areas,Dobbins also sees a major push to market composites to design professionals AMERICAN COMPOSITES MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION such as architects and engineers.“That’s a whole new area,”he notes.“I think that, in addition to ther- mosets,which is a resin system that we use, you will see thermoplastics start emerging in composites with very quick adoption for certain applications.” (Whereas thermoset plastics always remain in a per- manent solid state, thermoplastics can be re-melted and cooled multiple times to form various shapes.) “So, I think you will start seeing more of a conver- gence and maturing of 3-D printing being done with composites for specialty applications and parts replacement.” Moreover,Dobbins says that the technology to make composites recyclable is close to becoming a reality.“Metals can be recycled, but it takes huge amounts of energy,”he explains.“We will actually be recovering energy as we recycle composite materi- als and so, that’s a huge game changer in terms of our ability to compete against steel, aluminum, and other metals.” Going forward, Dobbins says that the ACMA will continue to advocate for commonsense regula- tions on Capitol Hill and in state legislatures, just as it has done in the past. “We’ve tackled every- thing from federal issues with styrene exposure, dust, and fire safety regulations, to Proposition 65 in California, which requires labeling for chemi- cals.We covered odor issues in Texas, and operat- ing permits in Ohio and Indiana. The U.S. is work- ing on a major infrastructure bill as we speak and I anticipate, like the last three infrastructure bills that have been passed, there will be provisions in that bill that will promote the use of composites in U.S. infrastructure.” “The organization is dynamic and growing,” Dobbins says in summation.”It’s very proactive in terms of working to open markets and it’s creat- ing opportunities for its members to meet with current and new customers.We provide tangible work for our companies, and being a part of the Association is a tremendous return on investment in terms of opportunities for what they’re paying in dues. And there are some big things coming down the pike.”