Meanwhile, back at Moses Lake...The making, shaping and treating of carbon fiber

Sep 24, 2012 | 06:00 PM | Jo Isenberg

With more than a hint of hyperbole and without much trying, James Palmer, an economic development manager with the Washington State Dept. of Commerce, stirred up the always simmering competitive materials pot a few weeks ago by recommending to anyone within reach that they should “Think of composites as the new aluminum.”

The message, delivered by way of a news release issued from the Office of Washington Lieutenant Governor Brad Owens, landed with a thud, so to speak, at the Washington D,C, offices of the Aluminum Association, which took exception to the statement, particularly coming from an employee of the state that is the ancestral home of one-time Seattle-based Boeing Co.

“Aluminum has been used in aviation since the birth of the industry, I don’t see it being replaced by composites any time soon,” Heidi Brock, Aluminum Association president shot back in a release issued the following day. “Lightweight, strong and durable with a positive environmental footprint, aluminum stands above competing materials, especially in the transportation sector,” Brock said, noting that transportation remains the fast-growing segment of the North American and global aluminum industry.
Palmer didn’t set out to antagonize the aluminum industry. His main mission, in fact, was to drum up support to help organize the composites industry in Washington state into its own economic sector. “It is a very rapidly growing industry in a highly innovative sector that has a lot of potential,” Palmer said in the statement. ....

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