MISSION AND OVERVIEW
Maine’s composite industry is comprised of small and mid-sized shops proud to deliver innovative, high-quality, cutting-edge design and manufacturing services for the marine, automotive, aerospace, architecture and industrial industries in Maine, as well as for businesses throughout the United States and around the world.
Maine’s composite industry is at the core of the state’s world-class custom yacht and boat building industry. Maine’s high-tech custom composite work can be seen today in the 155-foot Scheherazade, the largest sailing vessel built in the western hemisphere when it was completed in 2003, the U.S. Navy’s Special Operation’s Mark V and the Airbus. The major innovation in composites is the use of resin infusion in closed mold processes. Compared to the older technologies, resin infusion processes, in particular vacuum infusion, provide a means to significantly reduce emissions in the workplace. In addition, this process yields stronger and higher performance boats.
Composites technology in Maine reflects national and international growth rates of about 7% a year. Maine’s largest segments are boatbuilding and marine infrastructure and construction materials. Maine has developed strong products through research and development, particularly in boatbuilding. In other areas, composites have built upon both natural and man-made fibers, such as composite wood products. Over the next several years, wind energy, transportation, and construction are expected to be the dominant markets driving growth in the use of composite materials. Some niche applications such as thermoplastic composite applications, infrastructure applications, military and defense applications, industrial rollers, fuel cells, and others are also expected to show healthy growth.
Composites are increasingly the material of choice because they are environmentally friendly while offering significant performance improvements. Traditional materials such as wood, steel, and steel-reinforced concrete deteriorate, creating both environmental and structural problems. Composites are resistant to such deterioration, and also offer additional advantages of easier installation and the elimination of toxic coatings or chemicals used to improve corrosion performance of the more traditional materials.