From Space to Sea: the Value of In-person Networking

May 6, 2022 – It’s been two long years since IACMI and Composites One have co-hosted an in-person conference, and the composites industry is pumped to be back! With a line-up of leading composite industry speakers and demonstrations of cutting-edge technologies, From Space to Sea focused on advanced manufacturing opportunities for aerospace and marine industries, primarily for Eastern Florida’s Space Coast.

“There’s a synergy when people are in the same room,” says Joannie Harmon, IACMI’s Workforce Development Director. “They see new materials, they see new processes, but they also build their network, which is so valuable.” Andrew Hedger, Senior Director of Business Development at Magnum Venus Products (MVP), affirms the value of seeing and touching materials during demonstrations. “You can interact more easily with people, and you don’t have to worry about dropouts during video calls. It brings a closer feel to the processes.”

The two-day event April 12-13 in Cocoa Beach, Florida, featured keynote speaker and IACMI member Scott Lewitt, President of Structural Composites Inc., and Founder of Matrix Composites, David Nesbitt. Kim Harris with IACMI’s Workforce Development team moderated a panel discussing the needs and growing challenges of staffing companies that are manufacturing composites, like Blue Origin.

There were also four demonstrations where attendees could watch, touch, and yes, smell techniques in composites. For example, Composites One with MVP demonstrated Light Resin Transfer Molding (LRTM), highlighting process details and keys to success through labor savings, reduced emissions, and consistent parts. Other demos included composite preforms, reusable bag molding, and process materials for vacuum infusion.

Christine Mills, a composites materials engineer with NASA, found the demos her favorite part of the conference. “I’m particularly interested in the hybrid metal composites and how they can be used in the aerospace industry.” Scott Lewitt confirms, “This is a brand new space where we’re blending metals and composites, trying to grab the best of each, depending on what we’re trying to optimize. It’s largely unexplored, so we’re very, very excited about that.”

Highlighting and exploring new markets was a major focus for the conference. Seeing how the composites industry is branching out into transportation, infrastructure, and sporting goods is encouraging to Wes Hobbs, National Director for Composites Pathways at Davis Tech. “Cross industry networking is extremely important, and we can excel faster and more efficiently if we all work together. Companies like Composites One and organizations like IACMI are here to make that possible.”