CW Blog

Swiss engineering company Scheurer Swiss GmbH (Volketswil, Switzerland) recently combined 3D printing and years of experience using carbon fiber-reinforced composites for motorsports to develop lighter, stronger bearing cages for the Moonwave catamaran.

The Moonwave is a privately-owned, luxury sailing yacht refitted from a carbon fiber composite Gunboat 60 catamaran built by Gunboat (La Grande Motte, France; owned by Grand Large Yachting Inc.). The boat has been upgraded with high-tech gadgets like a custom hybrid propulsion system, and is outfitted with a carbon fiber hull, spars, steering wheel, propeller, and retractable rudders and dagger boards, as well as aramid fiber shrouds with carbon fiber chain plates.

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Both the aerospace and automotive industries are interested in applications using thermoplastic prepreg tapes. As might be expected, the quality of the finished parts is significantly affected by the quality of the raw material for the laminate. Though thermoplastic prepreg tapes have been used for decades, the push for quality has intensified as many seek to consolidate in-situ, without further application of pressure or heat. The French engineering and advanced manufacturing R&T organization Cetim (Nantes, France) has developed a system for quality assurance of these materials, which in turn, increases quality control for finished parts.

Cetim has developed several technologies for producing thermoplastic composite parts. One comprises a laser filament winding machine for thermoplastic prepreg tapes. The goal for the machine is to manufacture tank and tube applications that, until now, were limited to metallic and thermoset composite materials.

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3D printing of continuous fiber-reinforced composites continues to expand and advance. Many new companies and developments have emerged since Markforged announced the Mark One continuous fiber 3D printer in 2014. I have blogged on many of these, and I will continue to explore the rapidly developing landscape and players for CW readers.

CEAD (Delft, Netherlands) was introduced in Karen Mason’s March 2019 feature, “Moving continuous-fiber 3D printing into production”. In this blog, I give more details based on my interviews with co-founder Maarten Logtenberg, including why the company sells its extruder separately and the company’s vision for the future of continuous fiber printing.

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Bombardier’s aerostructures manufacturing facility in Belfast, Northern Ireland, is for sale. Bombardier actually has six manufacturing facilities in the Belfast area, all of which are for sale, and all of them fall under a single corporate entity called Short Brothers plc.

Who might acquire these facilities, and whether or not certain intellectual property will come with the acquisition, will be key not just to the facilities and the buyers, but to the larger aerocomposites industry.

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It’s April 9 as I write this and this week CW senior editor Scott Francis and I are in Colorado Springs, Colo., attending the 35th Space Symposium, a four-day conference and exhibition that, as the name implies, is focused on the exploration, use and development of near-Earth space, as well as technologies to transport cargo and people to the moon, Mars and beyond. 

This event, however, is not focused strictly on the benign use of space for scientific and exploration purposes. Indeed, within just a few minutes of arriving at the Space Symposium, it is obvious that there is a serious and substantial military component as well. The event is replete with uniformed U.S. Air Force personnel of all types, ranging from very young U.S. Air Force Academy cadets to seasoned, decorated generals. In addition, there are uniforms of other countries, including the U.K., France, Netherlands, Germany and more.

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