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Article

Historical Composite Industry Pioneers and Advances

Donald Rosato – Feb 14, 2020

TAGS:  3D Printing      Thermoplastic Composites    

Composites are essentially plastics reinforced with glass, aramid, or carbon fibers, or combinations thereof. These fibers are then set into a thermoset or thermoplastic resin to form sheets, or plies. Plies are laid on top of each other to form sub-components. The strength and stiffness of the materials depends on the direction at which the plies have been laid together.

Key composite benefits include:

  • Weight savings ranging from 15 to 50 percent
  • High impact resistance
  • Elevated thermal stability
  • Fatigue/corrosion resistance, and
  • Ease of structural component assembly
Composite Structure
Composite Structure

For further data, information, and analysis look at the following links:


Let's discuss the composite industry advances and pioneers in detail...


Earlier Advances of Composites in Aviation


Metal-to-plastic conversion of the U.S. 1940s WWII Vultee BT-15 Valiant military trainer aft fuselage (from the back of the cockpit to rear vertical fin) represented the first successful flight approved (March 24, 1944) airplane to fly with an all-plastic sandwich monocoque design.
Vultee BT-15 Valiant WWII Training Plane in Flight (L), Composite Aft Fuselage (R)
Vultee BT-15 Valiant WWII Training Plane in Flight (L), Composite Aft Fuselage (R)


It was constructed of S glass fiber impregnated with unsaturated polyester resin using a novel soluble core molding technology that was also applied to the later 1950s Korean War North American Aviation AT-6 training model lightweight composite wingspan.
North American Aviation AT-6 Korean War Training Aircraft (L), Composite Wing Span (R)
North American Aviation AT-6 Korean War Training Aircraft (L), Composite Wing Span (R)


Pioneers in the Field of Composites


The late George Lubin, a reinforced plastics pioneer in the development and implementation of advanced composites for primary structures, had a long and distinguished career.

  • Starting with the preceding WWII Army Air Force non-metallic lab developments in collaboration with other early composite engineers namely the late Robert Schwartz, non-metallics laboratory director and the late Dominick Rosato, assistant laboratory director.
  • He had a long and distinguished career at Grumman Aerospace Corporation from which he retired as Chief Scientist, ably assisted by his key assistant the late Samuel Dastin who later was Director of Composites.
  • Notable composite material and process developments included the E-2C, A-6A, EA-6A, B-1, and F-14A military aircraft, as well as breakthrough involvements in the NASA Lunar Lander and the Space Shuttle wings.
  • He was the first to recognize the importance of fiber orientation as related to the properties of composites that in turn permitted optimized designs for weight-critical aircraft and space structures.
Advanced Composite Pioneers George Lubin (L), Samuel Dastin (R)
Advanced Composite Pioneers George Lubin (L), Samuel Dastin (R)


Leonard Poveromo, the forimer Engineering Fellow and Director of Technology Development at Northrop Grumman’s Aerospace Systems and successor to George Lubin and close colleague of Samuel Dastin, who is the Founder and Executive Director of the Composite Prototyping Center (121 Express Street Plainview, New York 11803 USA).

All three of these gentlemen George, Sam, and Lenny shared a life-long commitment to advanced composites & advanced manufacturing, and are secure in this collective legacy as globally recognized fellows of SAMPE (Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering), the gold standard of accomplishment in the advanced materials and processing industry.

Leonard Poveromo, Executive Director, Composite Prototyping Center, Technological Heir to  George Lubin and Samuel Dastin, and Advanced Composite Pioneer
Leonard Poveromo, Executive Director, Composite Prototyping Center,
Technological Heir to George Lubin and Samuel Dastin, and Advanced Composite Pioneer


The Composite Prototyping Center (CPC), staffed by leading industry experts, is a highly specialized entryway into and across smart composite material, processing, and manufacturing technologies. End use market focusses include:

  • Aerospace
  • Automotive
  • Energy
  • Infrastructure, and
  • Consumer products

A full gamut of services is offered for product designing, prototyping, testing, and training, all under a single roof. CPC further collaborates with other industry associations and institutions of higher learning to advance workforce development.


New Technologies for Advanced Composites


It is interesting to see how advanced composites continually adapt to new technologies. In the early 21st Century, emerging 3D Printing easily comes to mind as follows:

  • Fortify has developed a breakthrough technology that uses magnetic fields in concert with digital light processing to produce next generation tailored composites. Fiber orientation is magnetically aligned voxel by voxel to specific part load needs. Highly technical UV (Ultra Violet)-cured acrylic and epoxy resins are used in concert with glass, carbon, and ceramic fibers and particles.
  • Fortify’s Magnetic 3D Printing Composite Technology
    Fortify’s Magnetic 3D Printing Composite Technology

  • Desktop Metal, noted for its metal 3D Printing capabilities, has recently expanded its technology into continuous fiber composites, based on unidirectional thermoplastic tapes for high performance parts. Their 3D Printing technology is capable of processing a broad range of thermoplastic composite tapes, but is currently focused on PolyAmide 6 (PA6, nylon) in combination with glass and carbon fiber, and with carbon fiber reinforced PolyEtherEtherKetone (PEEK) and PolyEtherKetoneKetone (PEKK).
  • Desktop Metal’s New Continuous Fiber for Composites Desktop 3D Printing System
    Desktop Metal’s New Continuous Fiber for Composites Desktop 3D Printing System

In closing, as a measure of how far advanced composites have come technologically since the early 1950s Korean War North American Aviation AT-6 training model lightweight composite wingspan, one only needs to look at the recent introduction of the Airbus A400M military airlift aircraft. It has a 20% weight reduction in its expansive wings as a result of metal replacing advanced carbon fiber composites with a dramatically improved strength to weight ratio.

Airbus A400M Military Airlifter Aircraft
Airbus A400M Military Airlifter Aircraft


Automotive Plastic Innovations in 2021 for Light-weight ICEs & Emerging EVs


Join Dr. Donald Rosato to ease your automotive plastic material selection for ICEs and EVs by gaining insights on the latest plastics resins, composites, additives… innovations in EVs as well as internal combustion engine vehicles. Understand the current challenges as well as opportunities for OEMs by reviewing the changing landscape of consumer attitudes, product availability, electronic vehicles economics, and regulatory tailwinds.

Automotive plastics



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