News Releases

News Release - Manitoba

September 11, 2012


Research That Could Boost Manitoba's Composities Industry Very Promising: Selinger

TIANJIN, China-Premier Greg Selinger today visited China’s Tianjin Polytechnique University to observe research using natural fibres of hemp and flax crops from Manitoba, which could lead to business opportunities for companies in this province.

“Technology is crucial to compete in a global economy and the research being undertaken with Winnipeg’s Composites Innovation Centre and Dr. Chunhong Wang of Tianjin Polytechnique University keeps Manitoba as a national leader in research and development in the composite sector,” said Selinger.  “Manitoba is proud to play a role in supporting this research.”

Wang and the not-for-profit Composites Innovation Centre are working closely on research that will further the development of natural fibres to support their use in industrial applications.

Specifically, the focus is on using Manitoba-grown natural fibres from hemp and flax crops to replace fiberglass fibres in composite parts such as bus doors and floor panels, motorcycle fender panels and snowboards.  Wang is helping the Composites Innovation Centre to better understand fibre properties and how to increase the strength of natural fibre-reinforced composites.

“International collaborations are critical to more rapidly develop technologies to support industrial adoption of these natural materials,” said Sean McKay, executive director of the Composites Innovation Centre.  “Our relationship with Dr. Wang is one of many global partnerships in which we connect with key researchers that have specific skills and capabilities that supplement those available locally; in this case, Dr. Wang provides her expertise in natural fibres and grading methods together with using her contacts within China to advance the knowledge required to build stronger composite parts.”

The Composites Innovation Centre is a not-for-profit corporation jointly sponsored by industry and government that began operation in October 2003.  Its mandate is to support and stimulate economic growth through innovative research and development, apply composite materials and technologies in manufacturing industries, and act as a catalyst for creating new business opportunities in Manitoba.

Composite materials, sometimes referred to as advanced materials, are made by embedding strong, light strands of material, like glass fibres or carbon threads, in a plastic material such as resin.  When cured, the final product is extremely lightweight and very strong.  Composites are commonly used in aircraft assemblies, body panels on buses, fibreglass boats, reinforcements in civil structures and house construction.  Composites replace metal parts to reduce weight and save energy, reduce the number of parts needed and lower assembly costs.

Winnipeg is home to the largest concentration of composite manufacturers in Canada and numerous companies that produce composite parts for a variety of applications from ground transportation vehicles to farm equipment, storage containers and caustic fluid handling systems, reinforcements for bridges and buildings, furniture and environmental technology products.

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