Owens Corning (NYSE: OC), a leading global producer of glass fiber reinforcements for composite systems and residential and commercial building materials, announced today that the company has established an excellence center for technical fabrics at its manufacturing facility in Zele, Belgium. The 5,500-square-meter (about 60,000 square feet) facility will have both pilot- and full-scale state-of-the-art production equipment for developing, testing and evaluating new fabric technologies before production and use in customer processes.
In addition to equipment for weaving, stitching and assembling multi-axial fabrics, the center will have a laboratory for testing new fabric technologies in infusion molding and other closed-mold processes.
"The new excellence center is a dedicated facility for partnering and working closely on new fabric developments with our customers using state-of-the-art equipment," said Mark Neville, vice president and managing director of OCV™ Technical Fabrics.
"By centralizing our fabric development activities in Zele, we will have more flexibility in scheduling and can continue the work 24/7 if necessary," added Neville. "The expertise at this center will also further drive standardization and quality in our manufacturing facilities to better serve our customers."
Dr. Chris Skinner, director of global technical marketing for OCV™ Technical Fabrics, says having a focused fabrics excellence center is a logical next step in the evolution of composite materials.
"A lot of development has already been in invested fabrics for composites," explains Skinner. "But our processes and our customers' processes continue to evolve and become more sophisticated, requiring technical solutions. As a major integrated company, we are able to work systematically on the design and optimization of the total reinforcement system as it is prepared for and used by our customers. The excellence center takes this ability to work on the total system to the next level."
Skinner says it is no small undertaking to set up equipment for running multi-axial fabric trials. "A production machine may have 1,000 or more packages of roving in the creel that is feeding it," he explains. "Even a pilot-scale machine requires changing many packages. The new facility gives us the flexibility to make multiple changes and stay with a project until we get the answers we and our customers need.
"The center enables us to deliver on what customers expect from the world's largest and most knowledgeable technical fabrics supplier," concluded Skinner. "We continue to be the partner of choice for major fabricators in existing markets like wind energy, pipe rehabilitation, marine and industrial."
Ashish Diwanji, vice president for innovations in the Owens Corning Composite Solutions Business, said the center is also a strong addition to the company's global science and technology network.
"The excellence center for technical fabrics has robust links to the company's major innovation centers in Chambery (France) and Granville (Ohio, USA), enabling rapid introduction of fundamental innovations by the fabrics business," explained Diwanji. "The center is a major tool for supporting our customers in developing new applications and markets for composites, and for continuing our more than 70 years of leading glass fiber materials innovation."