CW Blog

Composites Index expands for first time since June

The Composites Index reported expanding business conditions for the first time since June 2019, registering 54.3 in January. Index readings above 50 indicate expanding activity while values below 50 indicate contracting activity. The further away a reading is from 50, the greater the change in activity. Gardner Intelligence’s review of the latest data found that the Index was supported by expanding activity in production, new orders and backlogs. The Index was restrained by supplier deliveries, employment and exports.  All components excluding exports reported expanding activity during the month.

Production and new orders data reported expanding activity at rates not seen since the first half of 2019. The 10-point change in total new orders came despite a quickening contraction in export orders. The combination of these measures implies that domestic demand expanded even faster than illustrated by total new orders. January’s surge in business activity resulted in backlog activity expanding at levels not experienced since 4Q2018 and a resumption of expanding supplier deliveries after a three-month withdraw. 

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DYNAPIXEL: automated, reconfigurable molds

CIKONI (Stuttgart, Germany) is an engineering company that specializes in composites design, simulation, automation and process innovation. CW has reported on a number of the company’s developments, including its use of 3D-printed cores and 3D filament winding to produce lightweight truss structures (see “Filament winding, reinvented”) and its work with preforming, including draping simulations and tension devices to prevent wrinkles and other defects (see “Preforming goes industrial: Part 2”). The latter is actually how DYNAPIXEL originated.

“We do a lot of draping simulations,” says Farbod Nezami, one of CIKONI’s co-founders. “The OEMs have good material data, but we always need a mold to validate the simulation. We wanted a system that would allow us to iterate designs on a daily basis.” The conventional process chain for molds takes weeks: part design, mold design, quotation and purchase process, machining/production of the mold, surface preparation and delivery. “With DYNAPIXEL, we simply use the CAD data to generate the mold surface,” says Nezami. “Now, if we have a draping issue, we change the CAD geometry and have the ability to produce a small prototype in a couple of hours.”

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