CW Blog

From early work building carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) drones, Orbital Composites CEO Cole Nielsen wanted a better, faster means of manufacturing. Based in Silicon Valley, it’s not surprising that he and fellow employees opted for a different approach. “It took over a year just to identify the right questions,” says Nielsen. From there, they deconstructed every part of the conventional fused deposition modeling (FDM) process used to 3D print continuous fiber composites and redesigned it, including new hardware (and software) in order to achieve dramatic new capabilities:

Orbital Composites’ patented coaxial extrusion printing are being tested to produce continuous fiber composites onto curved surfaces and also offer the disruptive ability to print with wires and other elements for multifunctional composite structures.
SOURCE: CTC and Orbital Composites.

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CW Talks: Talking carbon nanotubes

The latest episode of CW Talks: The Composites Podcast features an interview with Joe Sprengard, president and CEO of nanomaterials specialist General Nano. Sprengard offers his insight on the role of carbon nanotubes in today’s composites manufacturing environment and how they might be applied in the future.

General Nano was named a Boeing Supplier of the Year in the Technology Category in 2016, for work the company did with Boeing in 2015. Sprengard talks about the award and the carbon nanotubes technology his company developed that helped the firm gain footing with Boeing.

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CCP Gransden (Belfast, Northern Ireland) has been in the Advanced Engineering sector for over a century.  Forty of those years have been specifically in the manufacture of advanced composites, beginning with large glass fiber-reinforced structures (2-3m diameter) for harsh environments. In 2012, the company identified opportunities for growth through the use of new advanced technologies and the manufacture of lightweight thermoplastic composites. “There was a lot of interest from both the aerospace and automotive markets,” says Scott King, Strategic Partnership Manager. “We saw a fit where we could offer improved performance to our customers using new innovative processes.”

One of the opportunities which CCP Gransden started to explore was overmolding. It worked with Engel (Schwertberg, Austria) through the local office Engel UK Ltd. (Warwick) to install vduo 1100 workcell and develop this into a state of the art high-volume advanced composite production system. The Engel workcell combines thermal-press forming and injection molding to achieve single-stage composite overmolding.

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CW Talks catches up with Chuck Miller

One of the newest episodes of CW Talks: The Composites Podcast, catches up with Chuck Miller, founder and president of California-based polyurethane tooling board manufacturer Coastal Enterprises.

Miller explains how he started as an engineer in the mid-1960s, working on development of the Saturn V launch vehicle, which would eventually take astronauts to the moon. When that program ended, and still with a family to support, Miller took polyurethane foam technology he worked with on the Saturn program and turned it into a business opportunity — one that is still thriving today. 

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New online Knowledge Base can help with mold release questions

A new online resource about all things mold release was recently announced by Stoner Molding Solutions (Quarryville, PA, US). This company, founded in 1942 and focused originally on rubber molding and aerosol applications, has worked over the years to develop thermoplastic releases for injection molding, cleaners, rust preventatives, releases for melt spinning lines, polyurethane molding releases, rotational molding releases and more. In 2014, Stoner added the Honey Wax and KantStik brands for composites molding.Stoner Molding Solutions has updated their Web site, and added a section called “Knowledge Base,” found under the News & Knowledge tab. Says Stoner’s Peter Taraborelli, responsible for marketing and public relations, “We are taking the time to bring together the knowledge that we’ve gathered from years of field experience, and post it in a public place, our Knowledge Base. Our goal is to publish one article per month.”

The first article, Mold Release Spraying: How to Optimize Processes for Best Results, looks at the spraying technology available in the market today for application of mold releases and how to get the best results. While simple, symmetrical molds can be treated by hand wiping or brushing, more complex mold designs require a spray applicator. The article stresses that one should not use spray equipment designed for paints or gel coats, as it will be oversized for the less-viscous mold release. Several equipment suppliers are recommended. Stoner recommends a high-pressure pump and a special airless sprayer, for less flyaway particles and mess. A special filter should be used to capture moisture when spraying, which can adversely affect the mold release application. And, computerized spray tips are an option, which eliminate operator variation and can be used in an automated factory setting. 

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