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AMERICAN COMPOSITES MANUFACTURERS • ASSOCIATION
That force is the American Composites
Manufacturers Association (ACMA), the
world’s largest trade association serving
the composites industry. It includes more
than 850 companies, ranging from small
fabricators to multibillion-dollar chemi-
cal firms to academics, representing the
entire supply chain in the industry.
ACMA’s services are instrumental in edu-
cation and training, regulatory compli-
ance and formulation, and market growth
and development.
To support market growth and develop-
ment, ACMA launched the Composites
Growth Initiative (CGI), which promotes
increased use and better understanding of
composite materials. The initiative
includes a public relations effort to
enhance the presence of composites to
potential end users, stronger interaction
between the academic community and the
composites industry, and coordinated
efforts of ACMA’s divisions, alliances
and councils to identify growth opportu-
nities.
For
example,
ACMA’s
Transportation Structures Council is
working on Capitol Hill to educate
Congress about the value of using com-
posites in bridges and other infrastruc-
ture. Also, ACMA members working
together in the CGI recently helped build-
ing off icials recognize composites by
establishing requirements for safe design
and application that is mandated in the
International Building Code.
“The CGI initiative works best in areas
where no single company can make the
same kind of difference as the combined
efforts of many companies,” Busel says.
“The CGI tagline says it all: ‘Multiple
strengths, infinite possibilities.’”
The ability of ACMA members to share
best practices and develop new technolo-
gies is critical as they seek to grow
their businesses, especially because the
largest markets in the composites indus-
try – transportation, marine and construc-
tion – have been in decline for the past
several years.
“The lead dog for the composites
industry in the near future will be wind
energy,” Busel predicts, adding that this
includes the production of lightweight,
durable blades, nacelles, and hubs.
Further, new opportunities are developing
for offshore wind installations where
composites corrosion resistance is a per-
fect match in an ocean environment.
According to the American Wind Energy
Association, wind energy provided just
1.8 percent of U.S. power in 2009, but it
accounted for 39 percent of all new gen-
erating capacity, and 36 states now have
utility-scale wind projects. “Meeting the
growing demand for renewable energy
will require increasing the amount of
composite materials and products used to
make wind turbines,” Busel observes.
He also predicts that composites will
become a more cost-effective, long-
term technology for the repairing and
retrofitting bridges and highways. Also, in
the construction sector, recycled materials
like glass will help to spark the use of
composites in the kitchen and bath market.
“As the industry continues to mature,
we’ll find new approaches and capabili-
ties to expand our reach,” Busel says.
“Wood is wood, and you can make only
minor adjustments to concrete and steel.
By comparison, composites are versatile
and customizable, without sacrif icing
strength or safety. Our power is our abil-
ity to listen, create and evolve.”
Tom Dobbins, CAE, is the executive director of the
American Composites Manufacturers Association
(ACMA), based in Arlington, Va. Details about the
association and the composites industry are located
at www.acmanet.org. He can be reached at tdob-
INDUSTRY TODAY 17
“Composites are integral to a wide range
of industries…in a marketplace in which
demands for product performance are
ever increasing, the materials have proven
to be effective in reducing cost and
improving performance.”
Pictured right (from top): Electric utility poles
fabricated from lightweight, durable composites
are easier to install than traditional wood poles;
composites rebar is often used to reinforce
concrete in a wide variety of construction appli-
cations such as bridges, tunnels and sea walls.